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Knowledge is power.

In any given year, some segment of the population ascribes great wisdom to the voters of California. And, regardless of your political leanings, one would be tempted to think that California voters represent a slightly more concerned and definitely more informed segment of the population. Well, maybe not.

In a recent survey commissioned by CalCPA, 40 percent of California voters reported carrying over some level of credit card debt every month and 58 percent don't save any fixed amount of their earnings monthly.

It's alarming to think of the millions of Californians who are so financially insecure--especially given the increasing cost of living in the Golden State. That's what makes CalCPA's financial literacy initiative so imperative. Who better to arm Californians with the knowledge they need to make sound financial decisions than CPAs.

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COMING TO THE FORE

CalCPA's financial literacy initiative has packed a powerful punch during its first year--the California Legislature specifically recognized CalCPA's role in working to improve the financial literacy of Californians when it unanimously declared April 2004 Financial Literacy Month.

After the California Legislature's declaration, CalCPA encouraged California cities to proclaim Financial Literacy Month locally. Dozens responded to the call, creating an increased awareness and momentum to activate the grass roots.

Also, CalCPA's financial literacy initiative has received an American Society of Association Executives' 2004 Award of Excellence as an outstanding program that has resulted in a significant benefit to American society. The honor is part of ASAE's Associations Advance America program.

GET INVOLVED

CalCPA has created myriad ways for you to participate in the financial literacy initiative:

Dollars & Sense: This program teams CalCPA members with legislators and local government leaders, who host town hall-style workshops that feature brief overviews from CPAs on financial literacy topics, such as setting financial goals, creating a budget, credit and debt, money-saving strategies, making college a reality and tax tips. The workshop's formal presentation is followed by a Q & A session.

The first Dollars & Sense workshop, held in January in Irvine, attracted about 100 people and received rave reviews. CalCPA is scheduling others throughout California--including events targeted at high school seniors and senior citizens.

CalCPA/California Jump$tart Coalition: Several CalCPA members serve on the California Jump$tart Coalition's board, including chairman Stanley Breitbard. They also form the core instructor group for Financial Smarts for Teachers, an innovative program that educates preservice teachers on personal finance topics. California Jump$tart is the state arm of a national nonprofit that focuses on financial learning for young people.

Also, in January 2004, 40 CalCPA volunteers participated in a CalCPA/Junior Achievement Day. The volunteers spent a fun-filled morning teaching almost 800 second- and third-graders in Los Angeles-area elementary schools about how business and good financial practices are essential for a viable community. CalCPA and JA will expand their collaboration to grades K-12 this fall.

Community Outreach: CalCPA's financial literacy speakers bureau is developing presentations on a variety of topics for you to deliverto community groups, including business groups, schools, service clubs, churches and temples. Already CPA speakers and volunteers have become mainstays for programs like San Diego's Community Self-Sufficiency Collaborative.

Tax Call-Ins: CalCPA collaborates with several radio and television stations and newspapers across the state on highly popular tax and financial planning call-ins featuring CPA experts.

Ask a CPA: For almost five years, CalCPA has provided a popular feature on CalCPA.org that allows the public to submit their questions to members. To become an Ask a CPA volunteer, e-mail Bill Spaniel at bill.spaniel@calcpa.org.

To learn more or volunteer for any of CalCPA's financial literacy activities, visit www.calcpa.org/FLC.

Californians won't become financially literate overnight, but with your help. Californians can rest a little easier knowing that CalCPA members will be there, providing objective financial guidance to help them build their financial security.

BY MICHAEL M. EISENBERG, CPA/PFS

Michael M. Eisenberg, CPA/PFS is the principal of a Los Angeles-based financial planning practice and chair of CalCPA's Financial Literacy Committee. You can reach him at Eisenbergcpa@aol.com.
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Title Annotation:FinancialLiteracy
Author:Eisenberg, Michael M.
Publication:California CPA
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:674
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