Monday, April 03, 2006

Be it Resolved...April is Financial Literacy Month

RESOLUTION
Designating April 2005 as ‘‘Financial Literacy Month’’.
Whereas at the end of 2004, Americans carried 657,000,000
bank credit cards, 228,000,000 debit cards, and
550,000,000 retail credit cards;
Whereas based on the number of total United States households,
there are now 6.3 bank credit cards, 2.2 debit
cards, and 6.4 retail credit cards per household;
Whereas Americans consumer credit debt continues to increase,
and has reached a level of in excess of
$2,100,000,000,000 as of year end 2004, of which
$791,000,000,000 is revolving consumer credit;
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Whereas a United States Public Interest Research Group and
Consumer Federation of America analysis of Federal Reserve
data indicates that the average household with debt
carries approximately $10,000 to $12,000 in total revolving
debt;
Whereas Americans owe $766,200,000,000 on home equity
loans and lines of credit, more than twice as much as in
1998;
Whereas Americans converted $41,000,000,000 in real estate
equity into spendable cash in the third quarter of 2004
alone;
Whereas the current level of personal savings as a percentage
of personal income is at one of the lowest levels in history,
2 percent, a decline from 7.5 percent in the early
1980s;
Whereas through November 2004, 1,869,343 individuals filed
for bankruptcy;
Whereas a 2002 Retirement Confidence Survey found that
only 32 percent of workers surveyed have calculated how
much money they will need to save for retirement;
Whereas only 30 percent of those surveyed in a 2003 Employee
Benefit Trend Study are confident in their ability
to make the right financial decisions for themselves and
their families, and 25 percent have done no specific financial
planning;
Whereas approximately 10 percent of individual households
remain unbanked, i.e., not using mainstream, insured financial
institutions;
Whereas expanding access to the mainstream financial system
provides individuals with lower cost, safer options for
managing their finances and building wealth;
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Whereas a greater understanding and familiarity with financial
markets and institutions will lead to increased economic
activity and growth;
Whereas financial literacy empowers individuals to make wise
financial decisions and reduces the confusion of an increasingly
complex economy;
Whereas the Spring 2004 Student Monitor Financial Services
Survey found that 46 percent of college students have a
general purpose credit card in their own name and 37
percent carry over a credit card balance from month to
month;
Whereas 45 percent of college students are in credit card
debt, with the average debt being $3,066;
Whereas only 26 percent of 13- to 21-year-olds reported that
their parents actively taught them how to manage money;
Whereas a 2004 study by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal
Financial Literacy found an increase in high school
seniors’ scores on an exam about credit cards, retirement
funds, insurance, and other personal finance basics for
the first time since 1997; however, 65 percent of students
still failed the exam;
Whereas a 2004 survey of States by the National Council on
Economic Education found that 49 States include economics,
and 38 States include personal finance, in their
elementary and secondary education standards, up from
48 States and 31 States, respectively, in 2002;
Whereas personal financial management skills and life-long
habits develop during childhood;
Whereas personal financial education is essential to ensure
that individuals are prepared to manage money, credit,
and debt, and become responsible workers, heads of
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households, investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders,
and citizens; and
Whereas Congress found it important enough to ensure coordination
of Federal financial literacy efforts and formulate
a national strategy that it established the Financial
Literacy and Education Commission in 2003 and designated
the Office of Financial Education of the Department
of the Treasury to provide support for the Commission:
Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the Senate—
2 (1) designates April 2005 as ‘‘Financial Lit3
eracy Month’’ to raise public awareness about the
4 importance of financial education in the United
5 States and the serious consequences that may be as6
sociated with a lack of understanding about personal
7 finances; and
8 (2) calls on the Federal Government, States, lo9
calities, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses,
10 and the people of the United States to observe the
11 month with appropriate programs and activities.
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