Building a culture of financial literacy

More than 21 years ago, retired U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge John Ninfo II began visiting Churchville-Chili schools to share lessons on managing personal finances, handling credit and saving for the future. Since then, his engaging Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) presentation has been an annual highlight in the district’s high school economics classes. 

“It’s never too early to start these important conversations about money management,” said Churchville-Chili Middle School teacher Ernest Orlando, who invited Ninfo to speak with his eighth-grade classes recently. “The younger our kids are when they learn how to be smart with money, the better prepared they will be to make good financial decisions throughout their lives.”

Ninfo covered a wide range of critical topics with the eighth-graders, including being a smart shopper and using comparative pricing. He helped students understand the difference between being frugal and being cheap. He explained the vital roles of cash, credit and interest, and shared tips on how to use credit responsibly and avoid crushing credit card debt. Most importantly, students got a new perspective on the value of money — that making and managing it is all about hard work and saving for the things we really want in life. 

Ninfo believes that beginning financial education at an early age is critical to a young person’s long-term financial well-being. People who are financially literate make smarter decisions about saving, planning for retirement and investments. He created CARE in 2002 to teach students about responsible use of credit. The organization (https://care4yourfuture.org) is now a national nonprofit dedicated to financial literacy for students and young adults.

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