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Cascade: No. 64, Winter 2007 — Special Issue: Financial Literacy

Message from the Community Affairs Officer

By the time this issue reaches you, the holidays will be long gone. For some, however, the expenses incurred during the holidays may not be gone, just delayed, until those credit card bills arrive. For them the variety of financial education and asset-building programs that we have featured in this issue of Cascade may come in handy.

A good starting point may be understanding how other people are faring. Are they saving more and borrowing less than you? Are they richer or poorer than you? The Survey of Consumer Finances, conducted by the Fed every three years, can answer some of these questions. Fed researchers compare present and previous information, looking for trends related to income, education level, race, and age. The Fed’s analysis of the latest data is extensive, and we have tried to distill it for you in our cover story. For more detail, be certain to read the original report.

Throughout Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, there are dozens of organizations that help families and individuals overwhelmed by debt. Through classes and individual attention, consumers have an opportunity to understand how to build a financially secure future. In the Delaware Money School, adult learners recommend topics for future classes and have a sense of ownership of the school.

In New Jersey, two cooperative extension educators have combined forces and are now teaching a course that combines health and wealth issues. It is not hard to see that the discipline of one is necessary for the other. As we all know, at least on an intellectual level, preparing and keeping to a plan are important for both.

Bankers clearly understand that the habits you learn early contribute to your well-being and their ability to keep a customer. We have highlighted several financial institutions that are going the extra mile to encourage school-age children to save by collecting deposits and giving educational presentations in schools.

And one financial institution, Bank of America, has decided to see how much people will save if their “extra change” is rolled into a savings account. It has been enormously successful and demonstrates that even little steps can change your future.

All financial educators look for that teachable moment when students are most receptive to learning. You’ll read about different ways to reach people, giving them new strategies and changing behavior.

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