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Bankers Across Virginia Celebrate Financial Literacy Month in April with Financial Tips for All Ages

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The Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) and banks across Virginia are promoting Financial Literacy Month throughout the month of April.

The below tips, quotes, graphics and statistics are available for members of the media to use in their publications at any time during the month. Please consider using the hashtag #vabankerstips if you share this information on your social media channels.

April 1-7 is a Focus on Kids - Tips for Raising Money-Smart Kids:

The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. “Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad,” says Bruce Whitehurst, VBA president and CEO.
  • Tip #1: Set the example of a responsible money manager by paying bills on time, being a conscientious spender and an active saver. Children tend to emulate their parents' personal finance habits. Share this Roadmap to Financial Responsibility with your kids.
  • Tip #2: Talk openly about money with your kids. Communicate your values and experiences with money. Encourage them to ask you questions and be prepared to answer them – even the tough ones. See this list of eight ways to talk openly with your kids about saving money.
  • Tip #3: Explain the difference between needs and wants, the value of saving and budgeting and the consequences of not doing so.
  • Tip #4: Open a savings account for your children and take them with you to make deposits so they can learn how to be hands-on in their money management.
  • Tip #5: Let friends and family know about your child’s savings goal. They will be more likely to give cash for special occasions, which means more trips to the bank.
  • Tip #6: Put the literacy in financial literacy. Encourage your children to read books that cover various money concepts. Not only will they become strong readers, but they will be smart money managers, too. Click here for a list of titles for all ages. Click here to learn about the Virginia Reads One Book program, sponsored by the VBA Education Foundation and banks across Virginia.

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April 8-14 is a Focus on Young Adults - Tips for Smart Money Moves for Young Adults:

“Living expenses add up quickly once you’re out on your own, and many recent college graduates and young adults who didn’t plan ahead are delaying major milestones like getting married or buying a home because of their financial situation. The good news is that you can have a bright financial future if you think strategically about money right out of the gate,” says Bruce Whitehurst, VBA president and CEO.
  • Tip #1: You are in charge. It’s your job to manage your money. Set yourself up for success by creating a realistic budget and sticking to it. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.
  • Tip #2: Pay bills on time. Missed payments can hurt your credit history for up to seven years and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider working with your bank to set up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills. Take advantage of any reminders or notification features. You can also contact creditors and lenders to request a different monthly due date from the one provided by default (e.g., switching from the 1st of the month to the 15th).
  • Tip #3: Build credit without racking up too much debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Credit history is one of the five areas that the credit agencies consider when calculating your credit score. It is important to start using credit now so that when you apply for a car loan, a personal loan, or a mortgage, you will have a credit history, which will help your credit score. To start building your credit history, shop around for a card that best suits your needs and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.
  • Tip #4: Plan for retirement. It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to retirement accounts like a Roth IRA or your employer’s 401(k), especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over time. Automatic retirement contributions quickly become part of your financial lifestyle without having to think about it.
  • Tip #5: Prepare for emergencies. Hardships can happen in a split second. Start an emergency fund and do your best to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start saving immediately, no matter how small the amount. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings. Put your tax refund toward saving instead of an impulse buy.
  • Tip #6: Get free help from your bank. Many banks offer personalized financial checkups to help you identify and meet your financial goals. You can also take advantage of their free digital banking tools that let you check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track your budget.

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April 15-21 is a Focus on Adults - Tips for Adults Interested in Financial Spring Cleaning:

VBA encourages consumers to add financial organization to their spring cleaning to-do list. “People are motivated to get things done when the weather warms up and spring is also an ideal time to look closely at your savings and spending habits,” said Bruce Whitehurst, VBA president and CEO.

  • Tip #1: Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
  • Tip #2: Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Tip #3: Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
  • Tip #4: Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Tip #5: Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Tip #6: Manage your money on the go. Utilize your bank's mobile app to check your balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, deposit a check and send money to friends from wherever you are.

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April 22-30 is a Focus on Elder Financial Exploitation - Tips for Preventing Elder Financial Abuse:

“Scammers are always developing new ways to rip people off, and sadly, they often targeting our seniors for numerous reasons,” says Bruce Whitehurst, VBA president & CEO. “Almost 90% of the financial abuse committed against older Americans are at the hands of someone they know and trust.” 

  • Tip #1: Know the warning signs of scams. Scammers are always thinking of new ways to steal from seniors; knowing the warning signs of scams will help stop fraud in its tracks. Paying fees or taxes for sweepstakes or lottery “winnings”, acting immediately on an offer or insisting on secrecy are characteristics of some types of fraud. When in doubt, talk to a trusted advisor, family member or friend.
  • Tip #2: Protect your financial identity. Some scammers are more interested in stealing financial identities to open new credit cards or loans in seniors’ names. Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Tip #3: Choose a responsible financial caregiver. Sadly, family members and friends can also take advantage of seniors and leave them in financial ruin. Plan ahead for the day that you may not be able to manage finances on your own.
  • Tip #4: Never sign something you don’t understand. Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document that appears suspicious or unclear.
  • Tip #5: Always trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their efforts to exploit you. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be.
  • Tip #6: Talk to your banker about options to ease financial caregiving responsibilities. Banks offer a wide range of services to help seniors and financial caregivers manage finances in accordance with seniors’ needs and desires.
The VBA also warns trusted financial caregivers about the red flags for spotting elder financial abuse*:
  • Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
  • A new “best friend” accompanying an older person to the bank.
  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
  • Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
  • New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
  • Altered wills and trusts.
*If you suspect elder financial abuse is happening to a family member or loved one, please make a report to the Adult Protective Services (APS) unit of one of the 119 local Department of Social Services or call the toll-free, 24-hour APS hotline at 1-888-832-3858. Reports can be made anonymously. Banks are continuously enhancing their capacity to spot elder financial abuse through on-going training and enhanced fraud detection technologies. Victims should also report the suspected abuse to their local bank and enlist their help in fixing and preventing fraud.

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If you would like to schedule an interview with Bruce Whitehurst, President and CEO of the VBA, either by phone or in-person, please email Chandler Owdom at [email protected]. To see pictures of statewide financial literacy events and more information about banks’ financial literacy and community service efforts, please click here.

About Financial Literacy Month
In 2000, the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy began promoting April as Financial Literacy Month. In 2003, April was declared as Financial Literacy Month for the first time by the U.S. Senate and Financial Literacy Day on the Hill was founded. The goal of Financial Literacy Month is to highlight the importance of financial literacy as an essential life skill.

About the Virginia Bankers Association
The Virginia Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes and charters and has served as the unified voice for Virginia’s $615 billion banking industry and its 42 thousand employees since 1893. To learn more about the VBA and the VBA Education Foundation click here.