In recognition of National Financial Literacy Month the Montana Financial Education Coalition (MFEC) in cooperation with the Montana Society of CPAs (MSCPA) is pleased to announce the launch of www.FREDMT.org. FRED, the Financial Resource Education Database, is a collaborative project between to the two organizations to provide accessibility of financial education programs to Montanans.
FRED is accessible to all Montanans as a database of programs throughout the state, including more rural communities. The database allows people to go online and search for information about credit card debt, buying their first home, debt counseling, retirement, student loans and so much more. If you are looking for information about budgeting, FRED will allow you to search budgeting resources. Some resources are available by web, others by making a simple phone call and each resource has been vetted by a team of volunteers that ensures it is legitimate.
Organized by life stages, FRED is modeled after the award-winning 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website (www.360financialliteracy.com) developed by the American Institute of CPAs. The Life Stages include resources for:
• small businesses,
• native communities,
• in crisis,
• college students and
• local communities.
Whether you are a teacher looking for speakers and resources for your students or a retiree looking for articles and tips to stay on top of your finances, FREDMT.org can help all Montanans. “We are exceptionally proud of our involvement in FREDMT.org,” explained MSCPA Executive Director Jane Egan. “There are so many great programs available to Montanans that so few people have known about . . . until now. FRED will change that by making this information accessible to people across the state.”
Financial illiteracy has become a national crisis and the MFEC and MSCPA feel it is crucial to provide financial education. The stats below offer some sobering evidence to support this need:
• Americans spend $1.22 for every $1.00 they earn (according to the Securities Exchange Commission).
• Young Americans have the second highest rate of bankruptcy, just after those aged 35-44.
• The average college student who takes out student loans graduates $20,000 in debt and with $2,000 in credit card debt.
• Between 1983 and 2001, credit card debt for 25 to 34 year-olds nearly tripled, according to the Federal Reserve, from $3,989 to $12,000.
These national statistics reflect the financial situations of Montanans. MFEC and MSCPA strive to improve the personal financial knowledge and decision making ability of Montana citizens by promoting public awareness of the need for personal financial education. “By uniting MFEC partners and building the capacity of their financial education offerings we can improve these statistics and the lives of Montanans,” stated Jolene Bach, President of MFEC. “We can empower people to take control of their finances.”
About the Montana Financial Education Coalition (MFEC)
Founded in 2004 the Montana Financial Education Coalition is a collection of organizations, businesses and interested individuals who believe that financial literacy is essential to the economic advancement of our state. MFEC strives to improve the personal financial knowledge and decision-making ability of Montana citizens by promoting public awareness of the need for personal financial education, and by uniting and building capacity of financial education programs. MFEC’s efforts reach out to Montanans of all age groups and financial situations.
About the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA)
Founded in 1913, the Montana Society of CPAs is a professional association with approximately 1,800 members throughout the state, nation and world. We strive to empower our members to make a difference in their local communities in the area of financial literacy through our Speaker’s Bureau which reaches out to high school students and low-income audiences throughout the state