LONG BEACH, Calif. – Dozens of Southern California residents “hungry for the knowledge” about financial matters turned out here for an all-day workshop taught in part by credit union industry professionals. The program, which helped wrap up the state’s declared Financial Literacy Month in April, was aimed at providing women with financial and entrepreneurship information. “They were really hungry for the knowledge,” said Rita Fillingane, development department project manager for the California Credit Union League and one of the presenters at the April 30 program. The free “Women’s Money, Finance and Tax Conference” was sponsored by the state Board of Equalization and state Sen. Betty Karnette and state Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, both Long Beach-based Democrats. It was open to the public. A similar program, also sponsored by the state Board of Equalization, was held March 22 in West Covina. Additional sessions are being considered, Fillingane reported, adding that the league has indicated it would again be willing to participate. Also taking part in the April program was Linda Price, chapter manager and training consultant with the league, and Barbara Bannister, senior vice president of human resources and organizational effectiveness at Xerox Federal Credit Union in El Segundo. The program also featured attorneys, investment officers and representatives from the California Franchise Tax Board, Internal Revenue Service and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Representatives from Riverside County’s Credit Union took part in the March 22 workshop along with league personnel and others. “The conference was geared to provide women information on money, finances and taxes,” Fillingane said, adding that several men were in the audience of about 65 people. Participants ranged in age from the 20s to the 50s, she said. Audience members, she said, appeared to be “gobbling up the information and were anxious to get it and learn all they could.” They also asked numerous questions. “They were very participatory,” Fillingane said. The workshop focused on fiscal responsibility and planning – including how to prevent identity theft, the importance of managing and using credit and controlling finances -as well as entrepreneurship. Fillingane discussed the league’s “Match-Up” program, an on-line database that matches people with credit unions they may be eligible to join in 24 states and the District of Columbia, and talked about how credit unions can help people build credit. She also provided participants with bookmarks prepared by the California Department of Financial Institutions and the California Jump$tart Coalition that list 10 steps consumers can take to improve their knowledge of personal finance. Price explained the credit scoring system and told audience members about how to repair a bad credit report. She also offered suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Fillingane said audience members ranged from those with an entrepreneurial bent to those employed by small and large companies. Bannister encouraged workshop members to take control of their lives by taking control of their finances, such as participating in a 401(k) plan if their employer offered one. Fillingane said she felt participants came away with information to help make them more financially savvy. She said presenters also felt good about imparting the information. “It was so refreshing to have so many questions and people wanting to learn the information,” she said. “Even after we were done, several people came up to us and thanked us personally. That’s always a good feeling. We did make a difference.” -

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