Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg today shared words of financial wisdom with sixth graders in three Grand Island middle schools.
“The best money management advice I can give you is to spend less than you earn,” Treasurer Stenberg said in remarks delivered to sixth graders at Walnut, Barr, and Westridge middle schools. “That sounds easy enough, but many adults have trouble doing that. How does someone spend more than he or she earns? By borrowing money. So, you need to look for alternatives to borrowing money.”
Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen, who has been instrumental in helping develop a financial literacy curriculum in Grand Island schools, also spoke.
Stenberg talked to the students about personal finances and congratulated them on completing Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, an online financial literacy program offered to Nebraska schools at no charge to schools, students, or taxpayers. The Grand Island sixth graders completed Vault—Understanding Money, an online financial education program for elementary and middle school students developed by the educational technology company, EverFi, Inc., of Washington, D.C.
Vault is one of three online financial literacy programs available to Nebraska schools through the Treasurer’s Office. The programs can be accessed at https://treasurer.nebraska.gov.
The Grand Island sixth graders are among the first students in the state to complete the Vault program, which was launched last fall. As of January, the Vault program was in place in 29 schools with more than 1,330 students taking part.
The Nebraska NEST Scholars program for high school students has been in place since 2013. In the 2015-16 school year, 115 schools took part, reaching more than 6,500 students. This semester a separate online EverFi course, Venture—Entrepreneurial Expedition, also has been available to high schools.
Stenberg said the financial literacy initiative has been a good way to introduce Nebraskans to the Nebraska Educational Saving Trust (NEST), the state-sponsored 529 college savings program, which provides significant tax advantages to account owners. As State Treasurer, Stenberg is Trustee of NEST. First National Bank of Omaha is Program Manager. The financial literacy programs are made available to Nebraska schools through NEST.
“I want to thank you and your teachers for using our Vault program to learn about personal finance. You are very lucky that your administrators and teachers offered the Vault program to you because many young people your age do not have the opportunity to learn this important information in their schools, and they struggle with money issues later on when they go to college or start their first jobs,” Stenberg told the students.
“The valuable lessons you have learned through Vault will serve you well into high school and college and for the rest of your lives,” Stenberg said. “Lessons about making good decisions; about going to trusted adults like your parents for financial advice; about distinguishing between wants and needs, short-term and long-term goals, and setting priorities; and about beginning to understand the responsibilities that come with money.”
Stenberg thanked the teachers for encouraging their students to learn more about money. Those teachers are Rick Brown and Blake Teichmeier, Walnut Middle School; Kari Ekberg and Ben Emeigh, Barr Middle School; and Stacey Sybrandts and Phil Zlomke, Westridge Middle School.
“Our population seriously needs help in this arena,” said Teichmeier, financial literacy teacher at Walnut Middle School. “While some students have parents who are talking to their kids about their financial decisions, we have a larger number who never hear about. It is awesome to have the opportunity to explain to the students when a parent uses a debit card, it is actually coming out of their bank account, not just magically out of the air, or how a credit card has both benefits and costs - especially costs that could be very costly.” Stenberg also shared words of advice from his mother. “Don’t spend all your money in one place. Never spend more than your earn. And make wise choices because once you spend the money you have, you don’t have any more to spend.”