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March 18, 2020

Depending on where you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance that little green sprouts are emerging outdoors while anxieties about tax season are emerging indoors. Taxes are one of many “money matters” that affect everyone. Sometimes seeking sound advice about taxes can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can’t give tax advice to students or their families, of course, but there are ways you can help the families in your community improve their financial literacy. Here are a few things to think about.

No One’s Too Young to Learn About Money

Experts have recognized that financial literacy, or the lack thereof, has been a growing obstacle to success. This can be true for families at all socioeconomic levels. Luckily, this subject is being increasingly built into even elementary education. Y4Y has compiled a Financial Literacy Book List to offer interesting reading that will build students’ financial literacy. You can use tax season as an opportunity to help them understand where their parents’ hard-earned tax dollars are going, including the very books in their hands!

Thinking Ahead Is a Valuable Skill

A common mistake people make is to claim a high number of allowances on their W-4 withholdings form so they can enjoy more money in their paychecks. Some people end up owing a lot of taxes as a result, or incurring a fine. Maybe they’re not aware of this, or maybe they think they’ll be able to save up enough to pay their taxes once the holidays have passed, or that some other windfall will come along. Too many adults don’t fully understand how to sit down and write out a realistic family budget that takes the present and the future into account. Y4Y’s course on financial literacy can put your families on the right path for thinking ahead. You’ll want to assess what your families actually need, and Y4Y’s Adult Financial Literacy Needs Survey can help you.

Don’t Fall for Scams

Knowing who to trust is only half the battle during tax season. Knowing who NOT to trust is also key. The IRS has publicized many known scams that prey on the fears of honest taxpayers. These scams may be designed for identity theft or to extort money from the people who can least afford it.

Let Families Know About Free Tax Help

These cautionary tales paint a less-than-cheery picture around tax season, but there’s good news too! The IRS offers free volunteer tax preparation for families with low incomes, limited English or disabilities. The majority of families who use this service receive a refund, especially families in lower income brackets. Best of all: a large segment of lower-income families pay no federal income taxes.

You don’t have to be a tax expert or a financial whiz or a tax accountant to let families know about resources like the ones described here. By the time those little green sprouts turn into beautiful blooms, tax season will have come and gone, and everyone will be a little bit wiser!



January 22, 2020

Knowing how money works can help people make smart choices. When you think about money management, spending wisely may be the first thing that comes to mind. There are other things to consider too, like different ways to increase earnings, how to use credit and manage debt, when it makes sense to insure against risk, and how saving and investing can help make dreams come true. The term used to describe financial know-how across all of these areas is “financial literacy.”

Wouldn’t it be great to give students a head start on financial literacy? What if they started thinking early about the difference between wants and needs? If they knew the power of compound interest, might it motivate them to work and save toward big dreams instead of spending now on “wanted” things that won’t last? What if they suddenly “got it” that classes like math, science and foreign language study will affect their career options and income later in life?

“Sure,” you might be thinking, “but our 21st CCLC program doesn’t have the time, knowledge or resources for that.”

The good news is, you don’t have to be a money whiz to make financial literacy part of your program, and you don’t have to start at square one. Y4Y’s new Financial Literacy course walks you through planning and implementing financial literacy activities for students of all ages and their families. It shows how to enlist local people and resources to create powerful learning experences. It has tips for coaching and training your staff to support financial literacy activities and community partners. As with all Y4Y courses, you’ll also get tools to customize or use “as is.”

If you learned from Y4Y’s Building Financial Literacy Click & Go last year, and you’re ready to take the next step, this course is for you. Let Tawanda, the host, guide you through planning and implementing high-impact program activities. Investing in student and family financial literacy now can pay off in attitudes and habits that last a lifetime.



August 9, 2019

Did you ever wonder why there are so many idioms around sound financial decisions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” For generations, parents have talked about money when passing along life’s wisdom. But our complex world has moved past simple rhymes.

Your 21st CCLC parents may envision their children becoming first-generation college graduates, or simply fitting in after arriving here from another country. They understand the importance of planning, are dedicated to their children’s futures and know that money talks. Unfortunately, common sense may not be enough to navigate modern-day financial decisions and talk back

The Y4Y Building Financial Literacy Click & Go is a great resource for you to help children and families get to know the basics outlined through an international effort to improve personal financial literacy. Many states now include financial literacy in learning standards and curriculum. The Y4Y Financial Literacy Standards Overview and Crosswalk tool can be a guide for building these crucial concepts and life skills into your program as you support multiple academic disciplines. Adult financial literacy courses offer a perfect opportunity to engage parents. You can invite in-depth conversations around how to make smart financial decisions in a notoriously complex arena. Be sure to check out Y4Y’s Evaluating Financial Literacy Resources to become confident about sharing the right information.

“Money talks” just means that money makes things happen. Even if they’re not tomorrow’s Rockefellers, citizens who understand basic financial concepts — earning income, spending, credit and debt, saving and investing, and protecting and insuring — are better poised to participate in personal and public financial decisions. Give your families that voice to talk back.