Need For Financial Literacy
As Comptroller, my
primary responsibility is overseeing how the City manages its
finances. How we balance the budget, how we manage our debts,
how we invest the City’s pension funds, and all of our financial
decisions, play a pivotal role in determining the resources we
have in the present, and what will be available in the future.
The same holds
true for family finances. Unfortunately, statistics show that
more and more Americans are having trouble managing their money.
Bankruptcies are at an all-time high. Credit Card debt has grown,
with the average American household carrying over $8,300 in debt
last year. This represents an increase from an average of $2,985
although 70% of Americans feel confident that they will have sufficient
funds to retire, almost half of all workers have saved less than
$50,000. Too many Americans are underestimating the resources
they will need upon retirement.
Much of this can
be attributed to a lack of financial literacy. Families that understand
the basics of money management—from selecting a checking account
to maintaining good credit —are better able to meet the challenges
of today and plan for the future.
I am pleased to
be a part of an innovative, new program to help New York families
learn basic tips about managing their finances. The program is
called MoneySmart, and it was developed by the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to increase financial literacy in
program is easy to teach and learn. Topics include basic bank
services, obtaining credit and buying a home. Volunteers lead
the sessions in their own communities, and local banks offer hands-on
My office has
joined forces with the FDIC to bring the MoneySmart program to
communities in all five boroughs of New York City. On April 12th,
we inaugurated the program at York College in Jamaica with a special
event co-sponsored by North Fork Bank. The volunteers who trained
that day will soon be leading MoneySmart seminars at their local
religious institutions and community centers—so look out for a
MoneySmart event in your neighborhood!
Plans are underway
to hold volunteer training sessions in additional communities.
I invite members of every community to get involved in this important
program, as volunteers or as participants. For more information,
please contact Linwood Smith of my office at (212) 669-3078.
Help build a brighter
financial future for yourself, your family and your community.#
C. Thompson, Jr. is the Comptroller for New York City and former
President of the New York City Board of Education.
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