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The Importance of Financial Literacy Month

Fin Lit Month 2015 2In a few short months, millions of new college graduates will enter the job market with an average of $30,000 in student loans. Student loan default rates are rising as recent graduates struggle to pay down their debt. The reason? New graduates will have degrees that have prepared them for careers or graduate school, but most will not have the knowledge to make sound financial decisions. That is why financial literacy is so important.

April is Financial Literacy Month and this year the AICPA marks the occasion with a renewed sense of purpose. With CPAs as our champions, the AICPA has advanced the financial literacy cause for over a decade, and we will continue to provide leadership in improving the financial understanding of future generations. It is critical not only for their individual success, but for the financial success of our country. For more than 10 years, the AICPA, its members and state CPA societies have been leaders in financial literacy by providing free programs, tools and resources for consumers, educators and more.  The AICPA’s flagship 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program is the national volunteer effort of CPAs to help all Americans understand their personal finances through every life stage. The program combines grassroots advocacy with free public resources and tools for CPAs to educate Americans of all ages. In addition, Feed the Pig, the AICPA’s award-winning public service campaign with the Ad Council, provides tools and resources aimed specifically at Americans aged 25-34, an age group that is making major life decisions, often with little financial experience or guidance.

Thousands of CPAs across all 55 states and jurisdictions volunteer their time to educate consumers so they better understand their personal financial situation and goals. The AICPA, along with state CPA societies and like-minded financial education organizations, play an essential role in educating all Americans so they have the knowledge to make decisions for a lifetime of financial well-being. And there’s evidence that these efforts are paying off. A recent Harris survey poll conducted for the AICPA showed that since the 2008 recession, 58% of Americans surveyed have started following a monthly budget in order to more closely track their spending based on their income levels. 

The AICPA plans to bolster our efforts with the launch of new, free financial education resources. In collaboration with the American Red Cross and National Endowment for Financial Education, the AICPA will be releasing Disasters and Financial Planning: A Guide for Preparedness and Recovery. This free resource will provide the knowledge to best prepare for, and subsequently recover from, any natural or manmade disaster. Through our continued collaboration with the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, the AICPA is cosponsoring the annual Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill this Friday, April 24, to educate members of Congress and their staff on the importance of financial education programs. The event is free and open to the general public. The AICPA has also unveiled an updated 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website, the centerpiece of our financial literacy program, with revised tools and content to provide enhanced guidance and support to consumers everywhere.

Financial education plays an important role in the lives of all Americans. CPAs can educate all Americans about sound financial management so they can prepare for a lifetime of financial well-being. The AICPA saw a concerning trend in the need for financial education and for over 10 years, CPAs have put their unique skills to work on a solution. 

 Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, President and CEO, American Institute of CPAs.



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