Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg offered some wise financial advice today to fifth graders at Johnson Crossing Academic Center in Fremont and took part in a financial roundtable discussion with high school students in Arlington.
He also stopped by Midland University where he delivered a check for $4,153 to President Jody Horner. The money was from 11 different properties, including more than $3,900 in death benefits from Midland National Life Insurance Co. for a long-time Fremont resident and business owner, Verna I. Hudson, who died in 2011.
In all, he said, the Treasurer’s Office is holding more than $88,000 for residents of Dodge County. Nebraskans can search for unclaimed property on the Treasurer’s website at https://treasurer.nebraska.gov.
A spokesperson for Midland University said Verna and her husband, Buddy, were long-time friends of Midland University, contributing faithfully through the annual fund. They were charter members of the Midland Endowment Society, now called the Victory Society, which recognizes individuals who have made planned gifts in their estates.
“We're honored to recognize Verna's legacy through this gift,” Midland President Horner said.
“The best money management advice I can give you is to spend less than you earn,” Stenberg said in remarks prepared for delivery to 300 fifth graders and parents at Johnson Crossing Academic Center. He was at the school to participate in a town hall event with students asking questions and to congratulate the students for completing the Treasurer’s NEST Financial Scholars online financial education course for elementary and middle school students.
Passing on words of advice from his late mother, Stenberg said, “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.”
Johnson Crossing Principal Brent Harrill said students enjoy the Vault program and find it easy to use and engaging.
“One part they found most interesting is when they assessed the difference between a need and a want when planning how to spend money. We appreciate State Treasurer Stenberg coming to encourage and celebrate our students at Johnson Crossing and to show his support for public education in Nebraska," Harrill said.
At Arlington High School, Stenberg joined in a roundtable discussion with 25 juniors and seniors who had completed the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars online course for high school students. He also presented certificates to the students for completing the course.
Teacher Shawna Koger said Arlington Schools has made a commitment to provide financial education to all students.
“We believe this real-world education will prove invaluable as they move into adulthood and become productive members of our society. Students in these courses are engaged and willing to learn about their financial future,” she said.
The Treasurer talked with the Arlington students about today’s financial challenges, the value of learning about personal finance at a young age, how to save for college, leadership, and public service. He urged students to look for alternatives to borrowing money for college.
He encouraged students to get summer jobs to save for college and to work hard to earn academic or athletic scholarships to help pay college expenses. He also encouraged students to consider community colleges or technical schools as alternatives to traditional four-year colleges. Skilled trades like welding, plumbing, construction, and electrical work are in high demand and pay well, he said.
“Many young people and their parents forget to consider whether they will be able to make enough money when they graduate from college to pay back the loan with interest and still pay for a car, gas and insurance for the car, an apartment, groceries, electricity, and so forth,” Stenberg said.
“Whatever direction you choose, I encourage you to build on the financial skills you have learned in high school and become as knowledgeable as possible about personal finance. Learn to save, spend, and invest wisely. Learn to go to trusted sources like your parents or banks for information and advice. Make sure you understand credit cards, debit cards, interest rates, credit scores, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and contracts. Know how to protect your personal information,” he said.
Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars is an online financial literacy program developed by EverFi of Washington, D.C., and offered to Nebraska schools at no charge to schools, students, or taxpayers through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
The Johnson Crossing fifth graders completed Vault—Understanding Money, an online program for elementary and middle school students. The Arlington students completed a separate course for high school students. Both programs may be accessed at https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/financial-literacy/.
Now in its second year, Vault was used in 68 Nebraska schools in 2016-17, with 3,178 students taking part. The Nebraska NEST Scholars program for high school students, which has been available since 2013, was used by 132 schools in 2016-17, reaching more than 6,600 students.
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.
“Thank you for using our Vault program to learn about personal finance,” he told the Johnson Crossing fifth graders. “You are very lucky that your administrators and teachers offered the Vault program 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.
“The valuable lessons you have learned through Vault will serve you well into high school and college and for the rest of your lives,” he 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 said.
About NEST 529
NEST 529 is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm 529 Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 275,000 accounts, including over 89,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About First National Bank of Omaha
First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $23 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.