Financial Literacy

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As awareness of the general populace's lack of financial knowledge has increased, many organizations have been created or have begun to provide various types of financial education. Financial literacy and personal money management programs operate at various levels, ranging from national to statewide to local. Some programs are preventative, targeting middle and high school students through regular curricula or special programs that aim to educate young people before they encounter financial choices. Others focus on counseling adults who have already experienced credit trouble, or on helping them achieve a specific financial goal, such as owning a house or building a retirement nest egg. Some people join programs voluntarily; others are required to participate through court action, employer policy, or state law. America needs the development and then implementation of a national financial literacy strategy. While the focus of financial literacy is on individuals, the promise of better financial outcomes leads to a stronger more efficient American economy that is better able to deal with the many challenges facing it. Improving financial literacy should be a life-long process that begins in childhood and continues through to old age. Raising financial capability means giving people the tools they need when they need them. It also means providing individuals with clear information about the costs and benefits of their financial choices. While all Americans would benefit, particular at risk groups warrant special attention. For low income citizens, improving access to government income supports, as well as incentives towards better decisions on saving and investment in education are important first steps towards a more equitable and inclusive American society. Similarly, as a nation reliant on immigrants, we cannot afford to have newcomers alienated or excluded from full participation in the American economy because of weak financial literacy or capability. A...
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