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La Pine's op-ed featured in The Gainesville Sun, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and Tallahassee Democrat

Patrick La Pine: Learning financial literacy

As part of our ongoing legislative priorities for the 2014 legislative session, the Florida Credit Union Association is proud to actively participate and promote Financial Literacy Month this April.

The association believes that learning how to manage personal finances and become financially solvent in a sustainable, responsible manner should be part of our youth’s education and the transition to becoming independent adults. Already, legislation has been filed in both the Florida House and Senate that would require high school students to take a one-half credit hour in financial literacy to become eligible for graduation.

If this legislation is successful, Florida’s high school students would be armed with critical information on how important it is to successfully start building their financial security and what tools are available to them in working toward that goal.

There are 41 student-run credit union branches in Florida alone, but lawmakers and the general public should continue to work to engage our youth in the discussion of why becoming financially solvent is important and how that can progress into a more stable and accountable future in any field.

There is a myriad of tools and information resources available on how to establish healthy and sound financial habits, and its is our goal to connect Florida’s youth with these tools in order for them to start fostering these good habits early on.

This month, the association and its members will actively participate in, and prioritize, activities to further this goal, including offering savings accounts specifically designed for members age 18 and under. The BALANCE Program by Community Credit Union of Florida, offers online courses or podcasts on creating a budget, reviews and discussions on credit reports, as well as financial literacy courses for students, parents and teachers.

Other programs are pushing the envelope on innovation, such as the Centsables provided by Florida Credit Union, which is a multi-media, kid-friendly platform to reach and teach children about money management skills. The National Credit Union Foundation also participated in Financial Fitness Day to raise awareness of credit unions’ financial education activities and the importance of financial education.

Financial responsibility or lack thereof transcends into every aspect of an individual’s life and the ability to plan for the future. As leaders in the financial world, the Florida Credit Union Association will work to help ensure Florida’s youth has the right access at the right time to the information and tools they need to achieve just that.

Patrick La Pine is president and CEO of the Florida Credit Union Association.

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