Financial literacy

Dear Editor:This letter is in response to Wil Stanton's financial literacy activities and new book "Finance for Youth: the Book" appearing in the Sep. 2, 2010 issue of The Downey Patriot. His new book details financial information for teens who want to buy a new car or look for a new job. Wil claims that the government regulates facets of personal finance, such as interest rates and loan eligibility, but does not teach future generations. He states, "…they get some cheerleader from the local bank. And that is why all of their answers start with people having to go into the branch for more information." First, the basic principle of credit unions is that they exist for the well being of the members and potential members they serve. One activity that credit unions do very well is to educate members about financial matters to help them become more financially literate. Serving Downey for over 50 years, Downey Federal Credit Union is no exception to the distribution of financial information. In addition to providing free financial workshops on a variety of topics such as identity theft, credit scores, and budgeting, DFCU has created a position at the credit union dedicated to educating school-aged children in the Downey schools, and community members at large. This is NOT a "cheerleader" position. The person who teaches the classes is our Community Education and Development Representative, Kari Johnson, an employee who is knowledgeable and who provides financial education on a practical level. She has made well over 100 presentations to classes and community groups over the last two years. Elementary school children learn about saving, spending, and sharing their money. Middle school children learn about the true cost of spending habits and basic budgeting skills. From interactive assemblies and films, the students learn realistic money habits. For teens, Ms. Johnson has taught many classes at Downey and Warren High Schools, going over basic financial facts such as the difference between a debit and a credit card, how to obtain credit, how to write a check, and how to reconcile a checkbook. Students have learned basic financial literacy in these interactive workshops. Downey Federal Credit Union also sponsors a program entitled: "Making the Right Money Moves" for teachers. The teaching materials, the instructor's guide, and the student workbook are all provided by DFCU. Teachers can use the guided curriculum in their classrooms to teach high school students how to manage their money, whether they are working or not. This knowledge will enable any teen to manage their finances once they finish school, go on to college or enter the workforce. As an added bonus, the character traits of Responsibility and Citizenship from the "Character Counts!" program can be incorporated into financial literacy education. At Downey Federal Credit Union, we encourage people to come into the branch to find out more about our products and services. Our tag line, "Count On Us Through All Stages Of Life," promotes the openness we have towards community members of all ages to grow with the credit union. We want people to become more financially literate whether they are an elementary school, middle school, or teen student; an adult, or a senior citizen. And, credit unions, such as DFCU, do indeed teach future generations. Furthermore, teaching future generations is an ongoing process, with people starting at a young age, and moving towards senior citizens. At DFCU, we take pride in providing financial education of all types to improve financial literacy. Although we provide financial education to students and community members at large, we realize that people learn at their own pace over time. One book may not have the ability to provide a competent level of financial literacy in our environment today. In summary, DFCU is doing its part in Downey to provide the much-needed financial education teens and all age groups need to be financially educated. Financial education is one of our initiatives, and we will continue to carry it forward. -- Marianne Noss, Marketing Manager Downey Federal Credit Union

********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25

OpinionStaff Report