Financial literacy in youth: Key to economic recovery

Youth gain knowledge and skills in money management that can help the economy now and in the future.

For teens and those just graduating from college, future financial stability can seem very far off and look very daunting with so much debt and lower than expected salaries. Many teens and young adults today can recall the crash in 2007. They may have had to live with belt tightening and economic hardship in their households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, wages dropped to levels similar to 1999 during this bleak period. Now average incomes are slowly rising and we are starting to pull ourselves out of this recession. This slow progress coupled with seemingly insurmountable college debt, a tougher job market and lower starting salaries is making managing money and utilizing financial skills even more essential.

The 2012 college debt crisis is not over. College costs are raising and more jobs are demanding post-secondary education. This can put a heavy financial burden on the household. Budgeting loans, paying off credit card debt, saving for college or retirement, financing a home, or buying insurance are just a few of the challenges Americans face and youth will encounter soon. From day-to-day budgeting to long term financial planning, it is crucial to have the skills and knowledge to manage your money. Teens, parents and those that returned to educational endeavors have to be creative and wise with their money.  

Michigan State University Extension offers programs in financial literacy. Programs look at topics such as goal setting, financial services, buying insurance and controlling cash flow. They are designed to educate youth about the value of money and how they can make it best work for them to obtain their goals and be financially secure. Tips on planning, writing loan applications, tracking, investing and risk management are covered with the use of interactive lessons, designed to be fun practical and applied to everyday life situations. The skills learned can aid this generation fueling our recovery and helping sustain a strong economic future for themselves and their community.

A financially literate workforce should ultimately help during this economic stagnation. Learning to live within their means, not above it, and being financially competent will lead to educated consumers that make sound decisions for their households and for their future. For programs and more information, visit MSU Extension.

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