New AICPA '360 Degrees of Financial Literacy' Web site debuts

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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has debuted a new 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy Web site to provide Americans with personalized tools and information to better manage their finances and make intelligent financial decisions. Reliable financial information is more important than ever as people continue to experience hardships and are forced to make difficult economic decisions under the strain of the recession.

The AICPA introduced 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy in 2004 as a national volunteer effort of the CPA profession to improve the financial understanding of all Americans. CPAs, either through state CPA societies or individually, volunteer their time and expertise to help Americans improve their financial literacy.

"The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy Web site gives Americans the resources and information they need to gain power over their personal finances", said Jordan Amin, CPA, chair of the AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. The commission comprises 15 members, plus one state CPA society representative. "We believe financial education is a lifelong endeavor from encouraging children to get into the savings habit to helping adults plan for retirement."

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the AICPA in recognition of April as Financial Literacy Month found that more than half of Americans (54 percent) were unable to save money over the last year. Forty-six percent of the survey respondents said they managed to save, and many did so by curtailing their spending on discretionary items.

The new 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy site is designed to provide a more personalized experience with an increased emphasis on user interaction and streamlined content delivery. The site features a 'My 360' tool which allows registered users to create a customizable dashboard featuring articles and resources to help them make informed financial decisions based on their responses to questions pertaining to their life stage and employment status.

By registering with the site, individuals can sign up to receive monthly newsletters, consumer alerts, and weekly tips and learn about financial literacy events organized by their state CPA society. The 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam all have independent CPA societies, which partner with the AICPA in advancing financial literacy in their communities; the AICPA provides a wide range of resources to assist state societies with their local initiatives.

Content on the financial literacy site is organized by 10 life stages, from 'Tweens & Teens to Retirees, and 13 key topics, including Credit & Debit and Home Ownership, to allow for all visitors to easily identify the resources most useful for their financial situation.

Additional new features include:

  • Increased user interaction through the ability to rate and comment on articles
  • An enhanced 'Ask the Money Dr.' section for consumers who are looking for guidance about personal financial matters, staffed by AICPA members who hold the Personal Financial Specialist credential
  • RSS feeds for each of the 10 life stages and 13 financial topics
  • A 360 widget to add to Web sites and blogs

All associations with 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, from the national Web site to grassroots events, are free of charge and free of marketing and advertising.

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