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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Today’s youth must learn sound financial principles, because they will not have access to many of the financial benefits afforded previous generations, Dallas Morning News Business and Finance Editor Scott Burns told attendees of a Financial Literacy Month Celebration Breakfast last week. The breakfast was hosted by Texas Jump$tart Coalition, an organization comprised of government agencies, associations, educational institutions, and for-profit and not-for-profit financial providers, including credit unions, that is committed to the improvement of personal financial literacy among young Texans. “We are looking at a major shift in this country,” Burns said. “The paternalistic days of an employer are history, and Social Security and Medicare are starting a period of extraordinary stress. Every bit of financial support we have been accustomed to is disappearing. Our children and grandchildren need to learn to take care of themselves and their money, because there will be no one else to do it.” Burns advised young people to save more and take on less debt. “Never spend the same dollar more than once, and make saving automatic. People think they will save whatever they have left over after they pay the bills. Money is never left over. We have to learn to impose limits on our own spending.” The breakfast was an effort to highlight the financial literacy efforts of members of the recently reorganized Texas Jump$tart Coalition, which is hoping to serve as an umbrella group for all parties interested in financial literacy. Elaine Laroa, Texas Jump$tart Coalition chair and executive director of Texas Credit Union Foundation, is optimistic about the group’s influence across the state, saying that its diverse membership is focused on a common goal. “It doesn’t matter what materials we use to educate – NEFE, Money Matters, Jr. Finance – there are many good ones out there. The goal is financial literacy. Our primary focus is on what we can achieve collaboratively. All agencies need to take ownership of financial literacy. Jump$tart wants to keep its message on the importance of K-12 financial education in front of the legislators in Austin, but while we are doing that, our members are sharing resources as we work for systematic change in our communities,” she said. Several financial education bills and resolutions have been introduced during this legislative session, but prospects for funding are dismal considering the state’s current financial crisis. Still, the Coalition is pleased the legislature recognizes the importance of financial education. “We realized that we would not necessarily have been prepared if they had passed a mandate this session for financial education in the schools. The coalition will be taking a look at crafting the wording for a bill for the next legislative session,” Laroa said. Breakfast attendees also heard from several area students who have participated in the JrFinance Literacy Academy program. Recently crowned Miss Teen Dallas-Ft. Worth U.S. Galaxy 2003, Griffin Kelly Johnson ran on the platform of financial literacy. She told attendees that financial education should be included in school curriculum. “If we are not educated on how to better manage our money, we will continue to trade our financial security for possessions,” Johnson said. Dejorian Moore, a high school senior, said his money management skills have enabled him to save and invest his paychecks to meet his current and future goals. Neighborhood Credit Union’s Mary Aguirre, who conducts financial education classes for ESOL and GED students, said Jump$tart efforts are especially valuable during a period of economic difficulty and cutbacks. Years ago, when she first volunteered to help at Consumer Credit Counseling Service, “they really didn’t take volunteers. They told me they paid their instructors. Now, they would like dozens of volunteers to come in like that.” -

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