April is Financial Literacy Month

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April is Financial Literacy Month and there is a lot of talk about the current state of financial literacy in America. And the news is not good. According to a 2016 FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation study, most adults in the US have little knowledge of best practices when it comes to financial literacy.

– 18% spend more than they earn
– 32% pay only the minimum due on their credit cards
– 63% failed a five-question basic financial knowledge test

So, what does this mean for current and future generations hoping for financial independence?

To find out answers I spoke with Peter Morgan, the founder of Morgan Franklin Fellowship (MFF), a nationwide financial literacy program for youth. He is not surprised by the statistics. “Teens spend 98% of their own money, which means they are only saving 2%. Most teenagers are simply following in the footsteps of their parents – they don’t know any better. The trend in America’s spending habits is unsettling and savings rates are miniscule. One of the reasons I started MFF was a desire to change that.”

Morgan Franklin Fellowship launched in 2014 with a mission to teach financial literacy to youth from all socio-economic groups. As stated on the website, the vision statement of MFF is to help current and future generations build secure, stable and satisfying lives. “One thing I’ve learned from my involvement with the MFF program over the last four years is just how necessary this program is for people from all walks of life in our society,” said Morgan. “The MFF program was conceived in a very deliberate way and designed to be scalable,” he continued. “Our online program gives us the ability to reach a large number of youngsters and change lives. And that is pretty exciting.”

Students apply to the program and take 3 online courses which include a variety of financial literacy topics such as budgeting, managing credit, loan approval process, financial planning and investing. The courses include reading material, links to informational website, videos, and exercises, such as designing a student budget. Each program participant is assigned a Financial Mentor that they work with one-on-one. “This year we have an impressive roster of 25 Financial Mentors,” said Morgan. “These include business owners, educators, bank executives, and stock brokers, just to name a few.”

86% of the students in the MFF online program reported that the conversations they had with their Mentor was helpful. “Based on this conversation {with my mentor}, I am excited about implementing my new plan for budgeting and saving!” replied one participant. Another student stated: “The conversation with my mentor was helpful in assessing the actual attainability of these goals. She walked me through the concepts of liquidity…and we talked about the importance of saving, the benefits of investing, and the anticipated struggles of the job search.”

When Peter Morgan was asked what piece of advice he might share with a student, he didn’t hesitate: “Start saving early,” he said, “but it also takes guidance and practice.” It sounds like the Morgan Franklin Fellowship Program may just provide all three.

To learn more, visit the MFF website at www.MorganFranklinFellowship.com.

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