Economy experts to host forum and teach people how to balance their budgets

Monday October 15, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The American Institute for Economic Research will be hosting its first symposium to help educators teach their students about finance.

The day-long Massachusetts Financial Educators’ Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24 at AIER’s center in Great Barrington. The program is being presented in partnership with the Massachusetts chapter of the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

"One of our greatest challenges today is people graduating from high school or college without the ability to effectively manage money or comprehend basic economics," said Declan Sheehy, director of development and outreach for AIER. He is also a former financial adviser working in the U.S. and Ireland, and serves as a member of JumpStart Massachusetts.

"We teach Ph.D. archaeologists but they can’t balance a checkbook," he said.

Sheehy said the symposium and AIER’s Women’s Financial Em powerment workshop series in finance are two examples of making financial literacy more accessible.

"We’ve found that collectively, people don’t really understand finance. It’s hard on teachers to find room in their schedules to teach it. The other challenge is that many teachers have not necessarily learned finance in college or life even, so they’re teaching a subject in which they might not have a lot of knowledge," he said.

The Oct. 24 symposium will bring in experts in the field of financial literacy -- from JumpStart to the Internal Revenue Service -- to come and teach teachers, community leaders, youth workers and other interested parties looking to start or enhance an existing financial literacy

Session topics will include economics, taxes, credit, college financing, budgeting and retirement strategies.

"Most people will buy a car, have a credit card, get a mortgage or rent something. It’s basic grassroots finance but hugely necessary," said Sheehy.

"Hopefully we can get to teachers so we can teach kids not to get into the same mess we did with our own economy," he said.

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