Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Kids learn to manage their money at camp

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Maria Sweeney, 13, wants to be a piano player or an electrical engineer when she grows up. She's got some time to decide, but was already preparing her resume on Tuesday.

Sweeney is one of about 30 students in grades 8-12 this week taking part in the second annual "Bringing Home the Gold" financial fitness camp at Northern Kentucky University.

Along with resume writing, the kids are learning how to research careers, open bank accounts, manage credit, invest, buy insurance and start a business.

The class was organized by the NKU Center for Economic Education and paid for by Citigroup and the Procter & Gamble Fund.

"It's important to get to people when they're young, before they get into a financial fix," said Johnna Fasold, vice president of public relations for Citigroup.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, there were about 300,000 personal bankruptcy filings in the United States in 1980. In 2003, the number of filings hit a one-year record of 1.625 million.

Kimberly Code is an assistant professor of education at NKU and one of the camp instructors. She sees some kids come to college with no idea how to manage their money.

"They get to college and they're bombarded with credit card applications, which is where problems can begin," said Code. "I wish more schools could fit it into their curriculum to teach the kids about finances before they get to college."

The same goes for resume writing, according to Emily Howard of Southern Ohio College, who taught the kids Tuesday.

"I've seen some kids who have a lot of experience in writing resumes and some who don't even know what a resume is," said Howard. "I just think some high schools don't think it is applicable to high school students, but it is."

So far, instructors say they've been impressed with the kids in this year's camp. A speaker on Monday talked about auto, home and life insurance. Code said she told the speaker it would last about 20 minutes.

"It took about an hour-and-a-half because the kids asked so many questions," said Code.

The rest of the week includes mock interviews, budgeting, the risk of investing and how to succeed as an entrepreneur.

"This camp is helpful," said Kelli Skelton, 17, of Alexandria. "You have to deal with finances your whole life, so why not learn all you can about it?"

Number of households per bankruptcy filing from March 31, 2003, to March 31, 2004

• State Households per bankruptcy filing National rank

• Indiana 46.26

• Kentucky 59.716

• Ohio 53.412

• National average: 72.8 households per bankruptcy filing

Source: American Bankruptcy Institute



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