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Ventriss: Financial Literacy Training

A few times a year I take the plunge and buy a handful of lottery tickets, especially when the prize money catches my attention.

I absolutely understand the statistical probability of my winning, but as the adman says, “You just never know!” And that’s enough to motivate my occasional purchase and fuel my imaginings for a posh retirement.

But we know that’s not the way to build a retirement nest egg, and in fact, doing it the right way requires knowledge and informed decision-making as early in life as possible.

With benefit of hindsight, we can see how lack of consumer knowledge about credit, investing, and financial planning was at the heart of the Great Recession. Now a decade later, and with a shrinking number of summer employment opportunities for high school students, their connection to the economy and world of personal finance is delayed at best – at worst, altogether unfamiliar.

A recent survey by George Washington University found only eight percent of Millennials could be described as possessing a high level of knowledge about personal finance.

Enter the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College, which is convening a Summer Institute for New England’s middle and high school educators, to increase their own literacy and instructional skills so they can better train their students in financial literacy topics. It’s a timely opportunity for Vermont’s teachers - and by extension, students and their families as well.

In the future, middle class workers are almost certain to face daunting challenges with structural unemployment, a high tax burden, increasing health care costs, and flat real wages. Finding additional funds to tuck away each month for retirement is likely to be more of a challenge than ever. So it’s important that younger Vermonters, and their parents, develop healthy personal finance habits early on, to benefit them later in life.

It seems especially appropriate for the K-12 education system to bring the benefits of financial literacy and future economic independence to all socio-economic communities. And The Center for Financial Literacy’s Summer Institute offers precisely that opportunity.

And for accepted educators – it’s free.

Lisa Ventriss is President of the Vermont Business Roundtable, which seeks to inform and engage the public on the State’s most complex policy issues. She summers on Lake Dunmore where she enjoys the varied activities that surround her husband, three sons, and her delightful canine companion, Miss Savannah.
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