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$eeds for $uccess: The Importance of Financial Literacy Education

Launched last year, the $eeds for $uccess Financial Literacy Program is focused on helping students with developmental disabilities grasp financial management skills they’ll need to succeed in their adult lives.

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Launched last year, the $eeds for $uccess Financial Literacy Program is focused on helping students with developmental disabilities grasp financial management skills they’ll need to succeed in their adult lives.

By Dan Swedits, Jennisie Nadeau, Paige Raposa and Chloe Corsi 

In just a few weeks, two groups of students from Cranston East and West High Schools will complete the blumshapiro $eeds for $uccess Financial Literacy Program, and – as blumshapiro employees and volunteer instructors for the program – we couldn’t be more proud of the hard work these students put in throughout the year to dive into the curriculum and pick up all kinds of new skills.

We launched the $eeds for $uccess program last year with the goal of making it an annual educational offering at local high schools. Working closely with school department leadership, teachers and school administrators, a team of blumshapiro employees wrote a comprehensive, year-long curriculum and lesson plan aimed at teaching students with developmental disabilities the basics of financial literacy. Over the course of the program, students practice day-to-day financial management habits like creating a monthly budget, saving for a specific goal or building credit.

We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play a role in this year’s $eeds for $uccess program and to work at a company that not allowed us, but encouraged us, to take time out of our workdays to teach this program. It has been an absolute joy getting to know these students, hearing about their goals for the future and helping them create financial roadmaps to achieving them. Most importantly, though, our experience in the classroom has opened our eyes to the importance of financial literacy as a whole.

Concepts like budgeting and balancing a checkbook may seem simple – but they’re not. These skills are tough to learn, and even tougher to employ in everyday life. Financial literacy is an issue people of all ages and background struggle with every day. According to the 2019 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, released last month by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, just two in five American adults say they stick to a closely monitored monthly budget. Around the same percentage say they regularly track how much they’re spending and how much they’ll need to have saved for emergencies.

These statistics are quite alarming, especially when you consider the difficult financial situations many people are forced to navigate in today’s world. Student loan debt is ballooning, doubling over the last decade and still showing signs of steadily increasing. More than 60 percent of adults have had credit card debt in the last year, and nearly 40 percent carry debt every month. According to a 2018 report from the Federal Reserve, less than half of surveyed families have enough cash saved away to cover an unexpected $400 expense.

Anecdotally, these obstacles are playing a role in preventing people from buying houses, going on vacations or getting married. More generally, they’re simply stressing people out! This stress is, unsurprisingly, particularly familiar to millennials. A Wells Fargo study says more than half of millennials consider long-term debt their “biggest financial concern.” Fidelity reports that more than 40 percent of millennials worry about their finances on a weekly basis. Bank of America says just 16 percent of millennials feel optimistic about their financial futures.

Of course, we understand financial literacy education will not be the magic bullet that solves all of these problems overnight. But, based on our experience in the classroom this year, we strongly believe that comprehensive financial literacy education from an early age will help people gain the knowledge and preparation they need to better manage their personal finances and start building a safety net for their futures.

It’s a start. And it’s a start we and our colleagues at blumshapiro are proud to support.

Dan Swedits, Jennisie Nadeau, Paige Raposa and Chloe Corsi are employees at Cranston-based business advisory firm blumshapiro. Launched last year, the $eeds for $uccess Financial Literacy Program is focused on helping students with developmental disabilities grasp financial management skills they’ll need to succeed in their adult lives. Learn more at www.blumshapiro.com.

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