This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
is National Financial Literacy Month in the United States. As the country faces a deep recession,
Americans are paying closer attention to personal finance. Some critics partly blame the crisis on
Americans’ low savings rate and high personal debt.
efforts to increase financial knowledge have grown in the last ten years. Government, community and business leaders
have pushed for teaching young people about the importance of saving, budgets
and the true cost of credit.
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is based in Washington,
D.C. It is an organization of about one
hundred eighty groups, government agencies and businesses. Its goal is to provide financial knowledge to
children and young adults before they get into debt.
Jump$tart’s Executive Director
Laura Levine says many young people misuse credit cards without meaning to. She says they often start by making the lowest
payment required. Over time, their
credit limit is increased, but they do not pay off their debt. Laura Levine says young people can take on
more debt than they can deal with.
government says forty-five percent of college students have credit card
debt. The average amount owed is more
than three thousand dollars.
High credit limits are especially
dangerous for college students. John
Ninfo is a bankruptcy judge in Rochester, New York. He started the Credit Abuse Resistance
It provides resources on its Web site for parents,
teachers and students about financial issues. Judge Ninfo says he often sees
people in their late twenties seeking bankruptcy protection in court. He says the combination of credit card debt
and big student loans is burying young people in debt and driving many of them
The results of bad credit can be serious. Seventy percent of employers look at the
credit histories of job candidates. In
some fields, like law enforcement, bad credit means you cannot get a job.
Former President George Bush formed the President’s
Advisory Council on Financial Literacy last year. That group has called for students at all
grade levels to receive financial education.
Currently, only seventeen states require personal finance to be taught
at least as part of other courses.
that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Transcripts and archives are at
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.