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Consumers from California to the East Coast are facing challenges of epidemic proportion in understanding personal financial matters. Studies have shown that the public lacks adequate understanding of how to manage their financial situations. Growing personal bankruptcies, increasing credit card debt, rising loan balances and prevalent “buy now, pay later” attitudes have all fanned the flames of a burning problem—the public is in trouble and needs information and resources for handling personal finances and making the right decisions. Knowledge is power, and in this case, the right financial literacy resources and training will empower Californians to put out the fire.
As the distinguished guests—and the Honorable Assembly member Lieu—have noted here today, the need for personal finance education in California is extremely urgent. What we collectively do today will have tremendous impact on the future financial literacy of your constituents.
In 2003, as part of its mission to help protect the public interest, the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA) began an evergreen program to improve the financial literacy of Californians. CalCPA members—CPAs—have the knowledge and skills to help educate consumers in the state. Understanding personal finance is a fundamental part of a CPA’s core skill set, so it was a natural fit for CalCPA members to help the public gain the knowledge and understanding necessary to overcome financial illiteracy. Serving as a free, public resource in this area helps CPAs fulfill their core mission to protect the public interest.
CalCPA has more than 30,000 members to help deliver personal finance education into California classrooms, donating their time to achieve a greater good. To demonstrate our commitment to raising the bar, CalCPA created the CalCPA Institute as a nonprofit organization formed specifically to promote financial literacy in California. This has helped CalCPA members to work with more than 7,000 California students annually and educate them about personal finance matters. The students our members work with are as diverse as our great state. They represent all races, faiths and cultures. They range from children working 40 hours per week to support their families to college-bound students who have had every penny they ever spent handed to them by parents. Interestingly, what our members have found is that many of those children who work full time and attend school full time are among the most astute with money and the lessons learned about money management; wisely using credit, budgeting, saving and investing resound strongly and are put into practice immediately.
CalCPA has numerous free resources available for teachers to help improve their students’ financial literacy, including these highlighted below:
Involved in hundreds of financial literacy efforts statewide, CalCPA and its members have been able to contribute to improving the situation for the public by educating them and improving their knowledge. Below is a sampling of some of CalCPA’s accomplishments: