Extension's 4-H teaches financial literacy to youths

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Extension 4-H faculty are helping the next generation of Oregonians understand how to manage their money into the future.
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High schoolers learn to save money, budget and prioritize needs and wants

When the Oregon State University Extension Service asked 51 representatives from community organizations in Columbia County what educational topics would be most helpful to residents, three-quarters of them ranked financial literacy as the No. 1 priority.

That shouldn't be surprising given that U.S. consumer debt stood at $2.8 trillion at the end of 2012. That works out to be about $8,900 of debt for every person in the U.S.

So Extension's 4-H program developed an in-school and after-school financial literacy curriculum for high school students. Its four lessons focus on earning money, creating a spending plan, savings and banking options, and the real cost of living after high school.

Extension 4-H taught 102 financial literacy classes to 1,285 youths in Columbia County in 2011. About 100 participants were later asked what they learned. Three-quarters said their knowledge of budgeting increased, and 80 percent said they now better understand how to choose a bank or credit union. More than 80 percent said they would share the information they learned with their family.

After the lessons, one student wrote, "I had never thought about the importance of health insurance. After learning about it and discussing with friends, I know I need it!"

Sources: Jenny Rudolph, a family and community health educator with OSU Extension; U.S. Federal Reserve; U.S. Census Bureau.

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