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April 20, 2017

Connecting With Partners on Financial Literacy

By Laura Fortunato

Buying a video game for your Xbox console that turns out to be a dud isn’t likely to impact your overall financial goals. But decisions on buying a home, attending college or starting a business are likely to affect your income and long-term financial well-being, explained Matthew Martin, senior vice president and regional executive for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte Branch.

Martin addressed 100 attendees of the kick-off program for North Carolina’s upcoming Money Smart Week North Carolina. His message: “Information is key to making good decisions.” Presented April 18 in Charlotte, the program included a competition for high school students delivered in partnership with the North Carolina Council on Economic Education. A lunch discussion followed with representatives of 40 organizations involved in financial literacy efforts. 

“The cost of making an uninformed choice is higher for some decisions than others,” Martin explained. “Financial literacy or economic education, however we think about it, it’s not only about the concepts of dealing with financial products or making decisions around spending, it’s also decisions around income including things like education.”

Martin, who serves on NCCEE’s executive committee and Yolanda Ferguson, Richmond Fed economic education outreach specialist, worked with NCCEE’s Executive Director Sandy Wheat to integrate the student competition with the Fed’s program for Financial Literacy Month. The Money Smart Week North Carolina public awareness campaign runs from April 22-29 and includes more than 180 financial literacy events by organizations.Created by the Chicago Fed, Money Smart Week® (MSW) programs are held annually in 48 states.

Earlier in the day, the Richmond Fed’s Charlotte staff also hosted the Personal Finance Challenge competition, a 15-round, quiz-bowl tournament aimed at testing student’s knowledge of personal finance. Eight teams faced off in answering questions about economic concepts, budgeting, insurance and the Federal Reserve. Examples of tournament questions included:

  • Assets minus liabilities equal what?
  • How many companies make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average?
  • If you do not own your home, what type of insurance should you purchase to protect your belongings?
  • Our nation’s central bank is known by what name?

When the rapid firing of questions ceased, the emcee declared Providence High School’s “Panthers of Trade Street” as state champions. The Charlotte-area school also fielded a squad called “The Money Team” that won second place. The team from John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, also known as the “H&R Block Party,” took third place in the competition. The teams were recognized during lunch.

Carl Samford teaches principles of business and finance at Providence High School and coached both of its teams. Samford said he tries to get his students to think of themselves as the “business manager” in their lives and tells them that having good personal finance skills is critical. “If you look at it that way, you don’t really have a choice in managing your business if you want to be successful,” he said.

The Richmond Fed holds programs year-round, and has a collection of resources available on its website at, including the Invest in What’s Next: Life After High School tool.

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Jim Strader
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Laura Fortunato
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(804) 698-0927 (mobile)