The month of April is Financial Literacy Month and serves as a reminder that we are all responsible for our fiscal security. As a co-chair of the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, this issue is especially important to me.
I believe we can take steps now to ensure financial security in the future. These steps can include learning about IRAs and mutual funds, regularly contributing money into a savings account or even starting a retirement plan for the first time. Taking these small steps can mean the difference between retiring at a time of your choosing versus continuing to work well past retirement age.
A factor in ensuring financial security in the future is saving enough money for healthcare expenses. One way many families save money for healthcare services and items not covered by insurance are through Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). These can pay for expenses such as doctor copayments, prescription drugs, medical supplies, vision and dental services. Recently, I introduced legislation that will make it even easier for families by allowing the un-used money in FSAs to be saved for large medical expenses.
If you are interested in learning more about how to ensure financial security in your future, I would recommend the U.S. Treasury Department’s resource center, which can be found at http://www.treasury.gov. Another good resource available through the FDIC is the Money Smart website, which can be found at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html.
Our own financial literacy is important, but we also need to teach our children how to make good financial decisions. There have been studies that have found that freshman college students who had taken a financial literacy class while in high school were significantly more likely to be fiscally responsible than students who had not taken such classes.
These classes give students an excellent opportunity to learn more about managing finances before college, where many students can fall into financial trouble. In fact, a study by EverFi and Higher One featured in a USA Today article shows that students who have this opportunity in high school are generally more opposed to debt and more inclined to pay credit cards bills in a timely manner.
As the father of two young children, I understand that there are also little lessons I can teach them well before high school. Right now, my daughter Sarah, who is five, is learning the difference between quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies and why she should save her change in her piggy bank.
If you are interested in learning about more to help your children begin learning about fiscal responsibility, a great resource is the Jump$tart website at http://www.jumpstart.org/.
I hope you will take time this month to consider learning more about finances and visit some of the available resources to ensure a secure financial future for you and your family. If you have any questions about this, or any other federal issue, please feel free to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster at (740) 654-2654, or Wilmington at (937) 283-7049.