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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

January is Financial Wellness Month, and there is no better time than now to create a financial wellness plan to help you achieve your goals for the years ahead. Your Money Matters website You can take simple steps to ensure you’re on the right path to financial success.

You should consider these basic questions when assessing your state of financial wellness:

  • Is saving a priority for you? Having a bank account reduces many transaction fees charged for cashing checks or making payments and encourages you to save. Most financial institutions offer free direct deposit of paychecks, and especially during this time of year, many will offer credits or a bonus for opening a savings account.

  • Have you recently reviewed your credit score? Each year, consumers can obtain a free credit report by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling Annual Credit Report Request Service at 1-877-322-8228. Having a good credit score is important to achieving your financial goals, such as buying a car or home, and it is important to closely monitor your credit activity for potential fraud or reporting errors.

  • Do you have a realistic budget? Budgeting, which includes saving, will help you pay your bills on time, prepare for unexpected emergencies and reach your financial goals. Take the time to write down your expenses, so you are able to keep track of what you’re spending, and make adjustments to ensure you are saving - even if it is a small amount each month.

My Department works to assist Floridians with increasing their financial knowledge. Our financial education website, Your Money Matter$, offers a variety of financial tools and resources for each stage of life. I hope you will visit the site to learn more. As always, our Consumer Helpline stands ready to help Floridians make more informed financial and insurance-related decisions. Our experts can be reached by calling 1-877-693-5236.

I encourage you to take time this month to review your current financial situation, and to set goals to become more financially well.

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

The Florida Times-Union: Better World: Economy is looking up

Sun-Sentinel: Report: Venture capital investment in Florida doubles

WLRN: State lawmakers want to add financial education

Tampa Bay Online: Amping up our financial literacy rates

Pensacola News Journal: Teach your children well when it comes to finances

Miami Herald: Florida shows how to increase access to higher education

Sun Sentinel: More international tourists expected in Florida in 2015

CFO Atwater Keynotes Thrift Week Celebration

~State-issued proclamation presented to The James Madison Institute to recognize the importance of thrift and fiscal responsibility from the halls of the Capitol to the homes of Floridians~

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater was the keynote at a Thrift Week celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 21 where dozens gathered at The James Madison Institute (JMI) to hear how Florida sets an example for the nation in fiscal responsibility. CFO Atwater also presented a state-issued proclamation signed by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet to JMI to recognize Thrift Week.

"Being thrift-minded doesn’t just mean pinching pennies – it’s often about finding a way to increase quality without increasing spending, being innovative and focusing on getting more out of less," said Dr. Bob McClure, JMI president and CEO. "In comparison to other states in our nation, Florida understands this."

As part of his introduction, Dr. McClure played a clip of the CFO on Your World with Neil Cavuto to highlight the New York vs. Florida sparring that took place after the Empire State ran a "START-UP NY" ad campaign to lure new businesses to the state.

"As CFO Atwater was quick to point out New York may say its business climate is top-notch, but facts are people are fleeing their state to come to ours -- and not just retirees," McClure continued. "According to the five-year American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census 78 percent of the people who migrated from New York to Florida between 2007 and 2011 were under age 60. Additionally, Florida spends roughly 60 billion less than New York and we now have more people living in our state – doing more with less."

In his address, CFO Atwater illustrated many of these points during a presentation on the numbers behind Florida’s success, which can be viewed on The Florida Channel.

"Fiscal discipline attracts capital. Even though the numbers are important, this story is not so much about the numbers. This is a story about a belief in the human spirit and an understanding that every policy has a consequence," said CFO Atwater. "I want you to see the numbers across time and note the results of public policymaking. Whatever you are a part of, you didn’t achieve success by accident. Public policy is no different. Public policy has a value proposition."

The CFO stated in his remarks that Florida needs to continue its efforts to foster an environment that attracts the greatest minds, the most entrepreneurial individuals to help Florida thrive and prosper. His priority is to focus on making certain that money stays in the pocket of Floridians because he believes it is the best way, and most enduring way, to ensure a vital economy in the Sunshine State.

Guests were also given a copy of "How to Deliver a Bigger ‘Bang-for-Buck' in Education" from the JMI Journal to illustrate how Florida leads the nation in delivering a higher quality K-12 education for less cost. The article shows Florida had the lowest increases in per-pupil spending of all 50 states; yet, Florida ranked among the highest in student learning gains.

Thrift Week kicks off nationally on Jan. 17, Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. JMI has honored this celebration in a variety of ways in past years. The organization continues to promote the "Thrift Ethic: Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." throughout the year through our classroom curriculum, "All About the Benjamins," which has been used by more than 350,000 students across the state.

For more information on JMI, visit www.jamesmadison.org.

Stop Adult Financial Exploitation

Operation S.A.F.E.Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • The Psychology of a Scam
  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft
  • Resources to Keep You Safe

Find out more in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event.

  • Thursday, January 22nd - Hollywood
    Hollywood Beach Community Center, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
    1301 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, Florida 33019
  • Wednesday, January 28th - Tampa
    Memorial Hospital of Tampa, 12 p.m.-1 p.m.
    2901 W. Swann Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33609

Florida Economic Briefs

Retail activity in Florida increases 8.6 percent over the year
Taxable sales in Florida have increased 8.6 percent from October 2013, according to the Taxable Sales and Index of Regional Economic Activity report from the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Building investment saw the highest year over year increase (12.2%), followed by Tourism and Recreation (10.3%), Consumer Durables (10.2%) and Autos and Accessories (10.2%).
Source: Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research

Florida venture capital investment increases by 103 percent in 2014
In 2014, Florida attracted $862.5 million in venture capital investment (45 deals), an increase of 103 percent from the prior year ($425.5 million, 49 deals). Much of this increase was accumulated in the fourth quarter, with $580.2 million invested into 10 deals. Nationally, $48.3 billion was invested into 4,356 deals in 2014.
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association

Outlook on 2015

This issue of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights opportunities that lie ahead of us in the coming year, as well as issues from 2014. It includes economic forecasts and expert analysis on Florida from leading economists, and insightful outlooks on key industries from the industry leaders themselves.

Fostering Financial Prosperity