North Carolina CPAs Help Families 'Make Cents' of Financial Future

By Deanna C. White
 
A survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) indicates that many American parents are still reluctant to engage their children in significant conversations about money, with only 13 percent of parents indicating they have daily talks about finance with their children. 
 
But as every CPA knows, when money is a taboo topic at the dinner table, children often founder when it comes to their own financial futures.
 
This fall, CPAs from the North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA) will step up to help families in their state fill that financial literacy gap when the association hosts its fifth annual Making Cents: A Financial Literacy Program.
 
According to NCACPA officials, Making Cents reinforces and promotes the integration of financial literacy into student curriculums by offering free information sessions on financial literacy specifically designed for students in grades seven to twelve as well as their parents and teachers. Session topics include student loans, credit cards, budgeting, saving, and more. 
 
The information sessions – conducted by CPAs, accounting professionals, and NC State University Jenkins Master of Accounting Program students affiliated with the NCACPA – are meant to fortify financial literacy lessons North Carolina students are already learning in the classroom, and to serve as a springboard for family financial literacy discussions in the home, said Holly Bazemore, community relations coordinator for NCACPA.
 
"NCACPA's accounting professionals support this event because it is vitally important that our nation's upcoming generations are prepared for their financial future," Bazemore said. "[We are coming] together to make a life-changing impact on students, parents, and teachers. In today's uncertain economic times, it has never been more important to teach our youth about financial literacy."
 
Bazemore said Making Cents was created in 2009 as a result of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction order to incorporate financial literacy into the state's course curriculum. The NCACPA is continuing to expand the program by hosting an increasing number of events across the state to reach a larger demographic of North Carolina citizens.
 
"For the last four years, this event has occurred at various locations around Raleigh, from high schools to a college campus. We have seen growth each and every year, and we are anticipating 2013 to break last year's record attendance," Bazemore said.
 
This year's first Making Cents event will be held 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 26, at Nelson Hall on North Carolina State University's campus. Subsequent events will be held Saturday, November 16, at Piedmont Natural Gas in Charlotte from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. 
 
Bazemore said the free information sessions are broken down into two components: one for seventh to twelfth grade students and one for their parents and teachers. Student sessions focus on such topics as opening a bank account, compounding interest and credit card debt, and saving for college.
 
Parent and teacher sessions focus on the same topics, which are elevated to a higher level to accommodate an adult audience and the particular issues families face. Bazemore said hot-button topics for today's parents include how to pay off debt and how to pay for college.
 
Audience members at the Making Cents sessions are of comprised of local families, school and church groups, and individuals who simply want to learn how to better navigate their family's financial waters. 
 
There is no shortage, Bazemore said, of CPAs and accounting professionals like Mark Soticheck, CPA, chief operating officer at Fidelity Bank in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, who are willing to volunteer for the events.
 
Soticheck, who has volunteered with Making Cents since the program's inception five years ago, said it has been a privilege to be part of planning, teaching, and volunteering for a program that makes such an indelible, positive change on future generations.
 
"It's critical to educate young adults on financial issues at middle school and high school age so they don't learn financial lessons the hard way. We also provide education for parents of our student participants so they better understand our financial topics and can help continue the conversation within the family," said Soticheck. "In one day, we touch on important topics, such as budgeting, saving, credit, and the important role that education in general has in helping individuals reach financial freedom." 
 
Erin Campbell, CPA/PFS, CFP, co-owner of Beacon Financial Strategies in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Making Cents is one of her favorite NCACPA events because it allows her to give back to her community by delivering financial literacy lessons that are desperately needed in today's society.
 
"It is so vital for young people to hear the message that it is important to save money and be responsible for their own financial future. Unfortunately, this message is not conveyed enough," Campbell said. "Everyone, not just young generations, needs to understand fiscal responsibility in order to be successful. Future generations need to figure out a way to live within a budget, reduce debt, and save for their future. The Making Cents event makes great strides in introducing financial concepts to kids and getting them to ponder their own financial future and how to take control of it."
 
For more information on the NCACPA's Making Cents: A Financial Literacy Program, visit http://www.ncacpa.org/MakingCents.aspx.
 
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