Saturday, November 22, 2008

UPDATE: Larimer County Financial Literacy Summit

In response to the critical letter I recently sent to the Larimer County Commissioners (see previous blog post) regarding the "cold shoulder" I got when asking to be involved with their upcoming (and taxpayer funded) "Financial Literacy Summit" being held in my own community, Frank Lancaster, the county manager sent me back a very nice letter addressing some of my concerns.

While I am very appreciative of his time and input, Mr. Lancaster also automatically assumed my desired involvement to include the blatant selling of books at the event, which was never my intention (nor have I ever done at any similar events). However, he did not address my chief concern, which is being denied media access to cover the event for our documentary movie about the state of financial literacy (illiteracy), currently in production. It seems as though a double standard exists insofar as they have given interviews to the local newspaper begging the question: Why are we not being given equal access? Click here to see my response letter to Mr. Lancaster, which was sent yesterday.

You may have heard me talking about this controversy last Monday on the local KCOL-600 Morning Show, and I have received queries from several investigative journalists who are closely watching how this event unfolds, considering the use of public funds. I appreciate the hundreds of supportive emails I have received regarding this situation and will continue to keep everyone advised. In the meantime, feel free to send your letters to editors of the various local papers and/or share your concerns in writing with the county commissioners and CSU.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Larimer County Gives Braun "Cold Shoulder" for Upcoming Financial Literacy Summit

Larimer County, Colorado (where I am based) recently authorized the allocation of approximately $19,000 in public funds to host a Financial Literacy Summit in December to bring together various community resources. As a passionate advocate of this important cause, I reached out to offer my assistance, research and resources, only to get the cold shoulder. Check it out:

Click Here to Read my E-Mail Correspondence with Larimer County

Click Here to Read my Letter to the Larimer County Commissioners

I forwarded this to about 100 other leaders in the community, and here is a just a sample of the over 75 responses I have received so far:

"Good, well-written, and fair response. This is the way a lot of higher-education (and secondary K-12 education acts). It's the ivory tower and again: "Once you eliminate profit as a motive, all that's left is turf."
- Local Attorney

"I have read this correspondence twice, and the content of Ms. Kubin's correspondence angers me and saddens me all at the same time. It upsets me that she obviously did not take the time to learn about you, and to fully understand how beneficial your partnership would be. I feel like she quickly threw the "vendor" label on you, and then dismissed you. It is so frustrating that FOX News will have you come to NYC to learn from you, but folks in our own backyard ignore a wonderful opportunity."
- Local Educator

"This is very disappointing to read. What a fantastic opportunity Larimer County missed! Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident."
- Local Business Leader

"I liked your response. What a dork. But don't you know, that's the idiocy and unfairness we are facing from much of the public sector who is supposed to be looking out for us."
- Local Rancher

"Honestly, it's unfortunate they did not want you to participate. If they had understood your positive impact on Northern Colorado then they certainly would have rethought their decisions. It's a shame too - you weren't making a profit off of the event, you were merely wishing to put it in your documentary; that would only had enhanced the image of Larimer County as a county that is concerned with financial literacy."
- Local College Student

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is Financial Illiteracy Tantamount to Child Abuse?

Below is another op-ed article which was recently published by the following papers:

San Gabriel Valley Tribune (11/9/08)
Nashua Telegraph (11/9/08)

We teach our children to walk and speak, to brush their teeth and hair, and to not talk to strangers, so why aren’t we teaching them about money management and financial wellness?

We deal with money in our everyday lives. Starting at a young age, more so now than ever before, we are exposed to the various aspects of money management and fiscal tools. But, while the nation places an importance on teaching the youth of America about mathematics, science and even sexual health, we neglect to prepare our children for the inevitable matter of personal finance.

Child abuse comes in many forms. Neglect is a failure to provide for a child’s physical needs. Emotional abuse is any behavior that interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. How is not teaching your child about at least the basics necessary to lead a financially healthy adult life not abuse, too?

Financial illiteracy among all Americans is truly reaching epidemic proportions, but it is most prevalent among the young – the generation of tomorrow. The results from a 2008 survey conducted by the Jump$tart Coalition – a financial literacy advocacy group for students ­– show how dire the situation has become. More than 6,500 high school seniors took the group’s 31-question survey and, in general, could only correctly answer 48.3 percent of the questions. That’s down from the 2006 survey when the mean score was 52.4 percent.

Likewise, the average score at for participants less than 18 years of age is 29.8 percent. The scores tend to increase with age, perhaps due to experience, but the overall score average score on the quiz is only 53 percent.

Perhaps likening financial illiteracy to child abuse feels like a stretch, but let’s think about the consequences. A child who is neglected is denied adequate supervision, shelter, food, clothing, medical care and/or hygiene. Each of these elements is essential to leading a decent life and also provides the child with a roadmap for adulthood. Will a neglected child grow to be a neglectful parent? Where would he or she learn otherwise?

I’m sure that there are many neglected children that have grown to be responsible adults and loving parents – after all, things like food and shelter are really common sense. But children who do not learn about things like savings and credit are not likely to magically stumble upon the information as they grow up. Instead, they will learn the hard way, through trial and error, sullying their credit and overall financial well being along the way.

Consider the millions of Americans who have lost or are loosing their homes. Or the increasing number of individuals who turn to payday loans — carrying interest rates of up to 400 percent — because they cannot budget for their living expenses. If as children these individuals were given basic guidance in money matters perhaps some of these hardships could be avoided.

Financial illiteracy can be debilitating. Money might not be everything, but fiscal responsibility is key to the American dream – a house, a happy family, a stable job. Beyond that, knowing the basics of personal finance is paramount to survival in an ever-more-complex environment. As a nation, we need to provide the next generation with the financial basics just as we provide them with other necessities of life. To not do so is misguided and even cruel.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CRM Magazine: The Boomer Boom

I was recently interviewed for the November issue of CRM Magazine to discuss "The Boomer Boom" in America and what it means from an economic perspective. Click here to read the article online or click here to read the scanned .PDF version.

Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964 (now age 44 to 62), and their biggest financial concern is outliving their savings. From a political perspective, their biggest concern is the economy and how that relates to Social Security and Medicare. Read the article for more interesting and in-depth details!

The "BoomerCafe" blog also posted the article.