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Bringing financial literacy to young people

Students in the T Rowe Price Finance Lab at Towson University
Posted at 11:16 PM, Feb 18, 2019

TOWSON, Md. (WMAR) — How much do your children know about buying and selling stocks or investing their birthday money or allowance?

It turns out increasing a child's financial literacy early can mean retiring much earlier or affording the costs of life easier. Students like Frankie Vasilios, an 8th grader at St. Joseph School-Fullerton, are getting a head start on a bright financial future.

“I've been learning about how you can buy and invest in stocks,” said Vasilios. “How it can either lead you in a good way with money or a bad way.”

The Maryland Council on Economic Education trains thousands of teachers that reach more than 200,000 students every year. At Towson University, more than 12,000 students will go to their financial lab and learn about smart investing through the stock market game.

“When you see a fourth and fifth grader talking about their portfolio and how they had to write out the correction, the Tsunami effected their coffee beans or whatever it might be. It suddenly brings the global economy much more in focus and real for them where most kids at that age don't know how everything is interconnected,” said Jeannie Kihn with MCEE.

MCEE was awarded a $75,000 grant from Suntrust Bank to grow their financial literacy program. Allen Cox, MCEE Assistant Director of Financial Education, said gives these young people a leg up.

“Saving, investing, budgeting, taxes, identity theft, fraud, all the things that make up those life skills that people need to have,” said Cox.

Apps like Acorns and YNAB (You Need a Budget) are changing the way young people look at saving.

“That money gets saved for you and eventually you can put that into an exchange credit fund,” Cox said. “There are options for which one you want to put that into. It's kind of an easy way of building up a nest egg for yourself without really seeing the money. Therefor there is no incentive to spend it since you don't see it.”