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Personal finance education at your fingertips

Whether the issue is creating and sticking to a budget, setting and working toward long-term goals or making sound investment decisions, knowledge is power. Lack of knowledge can lead to problems like overwhelming credit card debt and lack of emergency savings.

To address this situation, Junior Achievement and The Goldman Sachs Foundation have partnered to provide an Internet-based program called the JA/Goldman Sachs Foundation Personal Finance Program. The interactive program is a fun and practical instrument for parents and teens to learn personal financial literacy skills.

“Junior Achievement is proud to be providing such a useful tool in educating every American about financial literacy,” said David S. Chernow, president and CEO of Junior Achievement Inc. “Everyone needs personal financial knowledge in order to make sound decisions regarding their finances.”

The program, which is free to users, can be accessed through the “Personal Finance Center” on the Junior Achievement Web site at www.ja.org/personalfinance. This is a hands-on site that helps students relate to the real world by showing them how to make informed decisions to reach personal financial goals. The site includes video clips, games and activities that appeal to computer-savvy teens.

Based on JA’s popular in-school curriculum, the program focuses on five aspects of personal finance:

The Income section examines wages, business ownership and human capital as sources of income as well as the factors that affect them:

The Money Management area teaches users about personal financial responsibility, basic financial operations, financial decisions and their opportunity cost, budgeting, and short- and long-term financial goals;

In the Spending and Credit section, users learn about the consequences of spending now and spending later, the different uses of income through cost/benefit analyses, types of credit, transaction instruments, factors affecting the cost of credit and consumer protection laws;

The Saving and Investing component focuses on a variety of savings and investment options and decisions, evaluates short- and long-term saving and investment strategies and examines the impact of taxes, government policy/regulations and inflation on savings and investments; and

In the Risk Management area, students learn more about ways to manage financial risk through emergency savings and insurance.

Users start with the “Count on It” section, where each of the five topics is covered in depth, accompanied by family discussion questions, links to related Web sites and suggested activities. At the end of each section, students complete a quiz to test their new knowledge.

After completing this phase, users go on to the “Money Might” section, where they help a recent college graduate work out a budget that allows him to move out of his parents’ home. The site includes two other sections. “Toolbox” incorporates many useful worksheets and calculators, including a needs vs. wants calculator, a student loan calculator and a buy vs. rent calculator. The “Links Library” provides a wealth of internet resources on topics ranging from consumer action to building a better credit rating.

The Personal Finance Program was developed through a unique partnership between JA and The Goldman Sachs Foundation. The Foundation provided $2 million to Junior Achievement for development and implementation of both the classroom and the public version of the program.

- Courtesy of ARA Content

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