Volume 3 Number 33
August 14, 2006

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PROGRAMS GEARED TOWARD YOUNG CONSUMERS

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 financial future.

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, www.yourmoneyyourlife.org, a comprehensive public education initiative designed to help students, young people and families learn the basics about personal finances. CONTINUED

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 identity fraud.

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 www.yourmoneyyourlife.org to 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 hardship.

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 1-800-342-2762.