House Passes Biggert's Financial Literacy Month Resolution
The House of Representatives last night passed a resolution sponsored by U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) to designate April as Financial Literacy Month. The resolution raises public awareness about the importance of financial education and calls on the President to issue a proclamation of support for Financial Literacy Month.
"Most of our children haven't yet grasped the most basic financial and economic concepts that will enable them to prepare for their future," said Biggert, Co-founder and Co-chair of the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus. "Financial education has been linked to lower delinquency rates for mortgage borrowers, higher participation and contribution rates in retirement plans, and improved spending and saving habits."
A 2004 study by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy found that high school seniors know less about principles of basic personal finance than did high school seniors seven years earlier. Sixty percent of preteens do not know the difference between cash, credit cards, and checks. Only 26 percent of people between the ages of 13 and 21 reported that their parents actively taught them how to manage money, and 92 percent of college students acquire at least one credit card by their second year in college.
"Americans are not saving for life's expensive, and at times unexpected, needs, such as education, retirement and healthcare," said Biggert. "Now is the time for us to encourage our children and adults to learn about finance and economics and engage in good budgeting and long-term savings habits."
A Retirement Confidence Survey conducted in 2004 found that only 42 percent of workers surveyed have calculated how much money they will need to save for retirement and four in 10 workers say that they are not currently saving for retirement. Studies also show that as many as 10 million households in the United States are unbanked' and without access to mainstream bank products and services.
In 2003, Biggert worked to establish within the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. The Commission was tasked with establishing a website (www.mymoney.gov), a toll-free hotline (1-888-MYMONEY) and a national financial literacy strategy.
On Tuesday, the Commission unveiled its national strategy report "Taking Ownership of the Future: The National Strategy for Financial Literacy." The report highlights best practices and outlines outreach and education goals for the public and private sectors. It serves as a roadmap for how Americans can improve their understanding of issues such as credit management, savings, and homeownership.
"It is my hope that this national strategy can serve as a focal point for the hundreds of groups out there who are stepping up to the plate on financial literacy," said Biggert. "There are so many issues and so many groups of individuals who need help and want help."
Last year, Biggert and Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15) founded the bi-partisan Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, which now has 68 members from both sides of the aisle. The goal of the caucus is to provide a forum for members of the House to promote policies to advance financial literacy and economic education at home in their congressional districts and across the country.
"Since we launched the caucus, literally hundreds if not a thousand not-for-profit groups and private sector organizations have called on us to offer their help or tell us about their financial literacy programs," said Biggert. "Financial literacy may not garner much in the way of headlines, but it is an issue that should command our attention, but is a problem that is serious, urgent and can be solved through education."
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