PROGRAMS GEARED TOWARD YOUNG
Today's students are a purchasing powerhouse.
Teenagers spent $175 billion in 2004, according to Chicago-based Teenage
Research Unlimited. The average American teen spends $103 a week!
But while teens are spending billions of dollars, most of them have little
or no "real world" financial experience. Many young people do not realize
that the financial decision they make on a daily basis will affect their
The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) has taken an active
role in helping young consumers — including students, singles and young
married couples — learn more about financial responsibility.
In 2004, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher launched the Web site,
comprehensive public education initiative designed to help students, young
people and families learn the basics about personal finances.
This Web site is tailored to meet the needs
of Florida residents. It offers clear, reliable, helpful advice on financial
topics confusing to many — yet absolutely vital to all of us.
With the help of some of Florida's most trusted financial institutions, the
Web site aims to cover every important money topic under the Florida sun —
from buying a home or car, to saving for retirement, investing, reducing
debt, establishing good credit, planning for college, and defending against
Wheels, Deals & Spiels is a program designed by DFS for high school and
college students to introduce them to the concept of making financial
decisions on their own.
The program discusses important financial topics such as credit card
management, purchasing consumer products, how to calculate payment options,
auto insurance, verifying licenses of car dealers, lenders, and insurance
agents and other businesses, as well as identity theft.
Students have the opportunity to use the interactive calculator at
see what their monthly payments would be on purchases such as an automobile.
There are nine interactive calculators to help consumers see where their
finances stand and where they may need to improve.
DFS takes an active role in assisting local governments and community
agencies that provide HUD-approved first time home ownership training.
This training provides many young people with the decision-making tools to
make the many financial choices involved in purchasing their first home.
DFS provides the future homeowners an educational class that explains the
essentials of homeowner's insurance, the features and benefits of their
policy and what the policy does or does not pay for.
The Florida Fair Lending Act and how to avoid deceptive loan tactics are
also a part of the presentation. The Web site offers a mortgage payment
calculator to take consumers through the process of finding out how much
they can borrow.
A consumer fills in the data entry fields and clicks on the "View Report"
button to see a complete amortization schedule of their mortgage payments.
The goal of the first-time home ownership training is to make sure young
consumers purchase a home they can afford and maintain (taxes, insurance and
repairs) over a reasonable amount of time without causing a financial
Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher's annual essay contest is a part of
DFS's statewide public education initiative aimed at encouraging investor
education among middle and high school students.
The contest, "Cash in on Your Money Smarts," offers teens a chance at more
than $7,500 in prizes statewide.
Finally, I'd like to challenge businesses and chambers of commerce to
work with their school districts to create a financial literacy programs at
all grade levels, if they do not have one already.
Young consumers will be purchasing, saving and investing their money for a
long time. The more enhanced their financial decisions, the more they will
increase Florida's economic growth for many years to come.
If your school, business, chamber or community group would like to
sponsor a program or want more information about DFS's Financial Literacy
programs, contact us at the phone number below. You can also visit our Web
site, www.MyFloridaCFO.com, or contact the division of Consumer Services at