MONROE — Long a leader in working with its customers to become better at personal financial management, Monroe Bank & Trust (MBT) played a major role again last month in helping clients get the tools needed in order to achieve lifelong financial success. April is Financial Literacy Month and MBT was active on a number of fronts focusing on topics that can be overwhelming for some.
One involved a seminar, The Psychology of Spending. “Because too much spending can lead to debt problems, understanding the psychology of spending can be helpful for many consumers,” said Jennifer Tucker, marketing officer at Monroe Bank & Trust. “Through this free workshop, we helped our community understand how to manage the external factors that influence our buying behavior.”
According to Bettina Bartolo, financial counselor at GreenPath Debt Solutions, MBT in partnership with GreenPath sponsored the workshop. “We provide financial counseling to customers of Monroe Bank & Trust through our GreenPath Referral Program,” Bartolo explained. “Specifically, we help their customers with budgeting, debt management, credit report reviews and counseling.”
The workshop was held the last week of April during Money Smart Week 2012. Money Smart Week is an initiative spearheaded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to promote financial literacy within communities.
“This workshop is usually very interactive – the participants are not only eager to point out their own money personalities and buying habits but also ways to overcome the struggles they may face. Everyone learns from each other in this workshop – it is a win-win for sure,” Bartolo added.
Seminar topics included:
• How to manage valuable resources
• The external factors that influence buying behavior
• Money personalities
• Methods to control spending
• Overcoming the forces that make us spend
“In this workshop we talk about how many of us purchase first and figure out how to pay second,” she said. “Understanding why we buy is really not that simple but, once you learn the psychology of spending, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to overcome the urge to splurge.” According to Bartolo, not having a budget written down and followed is the biggest mistake consumers make.
“Let’s face it. We love to buy things here in America,” Tucker noted. “And, as Americans, if we are going to do something, we go all the way. Sometimes, however, we overspend and wonder what happened. Understanding why we buy is really not that simple. But, once you learn the psychology of spending, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to overcome the urge to splurge.”
MBT’s Financial Literacy Focus is Comprehensive
Monroe Bank & Trust offers a number of programs assisting customers, along with high school and elementary students on the importance of financial literacy in daily life. As Tucker noted, the time is now since in today’s global economy community banks can play a major role helping consumers meet their informational needs for financial planning information.
According to Tucker Monroe Bank & Trust has long recognized the critical need to provide financial literacy assistance, and have developed new programs addressing educational needs in Monroe and Wayne Counties. “Our programs include MBTeach, our adult financial literacy program; Partnership in Education, our elementary school banking program; The Monroe County Learning Bank Network, our public/private adult educational partnership andEverFi, the leading online financial literacy platform for teens and young adults, provided at no cost to Wayne County’s Flat Rock High School and all Monroe County High Schools.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 32 percent of high school seniors use credit cards, but more than half of these students did not know that paying off a credit card more slowly will result in higher finance charges. The survey also found that:
- 83 percent of high school seniors did not know that stocks are likely to yield higher returns than savings bonds, savings accounts and checking accounts over the next 18 years.
- 60 percent of high school seniors did not know that they could lose their health insurance if their parents become unemployed.
- 52.3 percent of the high school students did not know that they could check their credit report free for once a year
The situation worsens as these students go off to college. A staggering 75 percent of college students have credit card debt, with an average balance of $2200. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt nationwide.
Introducing the MBT/EverFi High School Financial Literacy Program
Tucker said financial education empowers people to make informed and responsible choices. This is especially important for the next generation. Financially literate children are more likely to become financially literate adults. Public and private support is necessary for this effort to be successful, so Monroe Bank & Trust is partnering with Monroe County high schools and Flat Rock Community High School to make this new financial literacy program initiative successful.
Through EverFi, Monroe Bank & Trust is supporting the expansion of technology within the classroom. It kicked off last year and is a leading online financial literacy platform designed for how students learn today.
Tucker explained it is a performance-based, turn-key and flexible tool that requires minimal teacher training and limited administration resources to implement; it aligns with state standards. The platform has the ability to report on every student’s score, completion rates, pre and post testing, etc. EverFi handles all integration, orientation, training, login information and ongoing customer and technical support.
EverFi will be used in more than 3,500 schools nationwide this school year. Partners include major companies and leading non-profits across the country. MBT/EverFi High School Financial Literacy Program Basics include:
- Most Monroe County High Schools and 1 Wayne County High School are currently participating.
- Interactive computer-based training is integrated in junior/senior classrooms.
- MBT has paid the EverFi program and licensing costs for all schools to reduce the burden on local districts.
“Together we are tackling this critical issue using the tools that teens love – digital learning and gaming. Teens today came of age in a tough economic time, together we can partner to show that not only do we want them to be wise financial consumers, but that we can serve up this important content using 21st Century tools,” she emphasized. MBT became interested in the EverFi program due to the endorsement of the Michigan Bankers Association.