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Weekly Column: April--Promoting Financial Literacy For Idaho Youth

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Responsibly managing taxpayer dollars is, and always has been, a bedrock principle of my public service.  It also motivates my support for efforts to promote financial education, particularly for young people.  Sensible personal finance decisions young Idahoans make now can help set them up for a sound fiscal future.

In April 2024, the U.S. Senate will likely again pass a resolution designating April as Financial Literacy Month to raise public awareness about the importance of financial education in the United States.  This will mark the 20th anniversary of the first designation of “Financial Literacy Month” in 2004.  Notably, this was preceded by a 2003 resolution designating April 2003 as “Financial Literacy for Youth Month.”  

The resolutions recognize that “increased literacy (1) empowers individuals to make wise financial decisions; and (2) reduces the confusion caused by an increasingly complex economy” and it also finds that “a greater understanding of, and familiarity with, financial markets and institutions will lead to increased economic activity and growth.”  I agree with the need for increased public awareness of the importance of personal financial education and the benefits to individuals, families and our nation, which is why I co-sponsored the initial and subsequent resolutions.  However, we should not lose sight of the original resolution and the need for increased financial literacy among young people.  

Following passage of the first resolution in 2003, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 was enacted.  This important law that protects consumers and strengthened our national credit reporting system also established a Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) and directed the development of a national financial education website,  The federal website includes resources for youth, educators and researchers.  Individuals can also call 1­800-FED­INFO for question about federal agencies, programs, benefits or services related to financial literacy and education.

A bill I sponsored and helped get signed into law, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018, directed the FLEC to establish best practices for teaching financial literacy skills at institutions of higher education and providing information to help students with borrowing decisions.  Additional higher education financial education information is available on the FLEC website.  Further, information to improve financial literacy is also available from Idaho resources.  The Idaho Financial Literacy Coalition, at, has helpful information for improving financial knowledge for kids, as well as their families.  University of Idaho Extension also has useful information on family personal finance in many of its publications.  Additionally, Idaho’s Legislature passed legislation in 2023 to require Idaho high school students to take a financial literacy course beginning next school year.  

In the most recent Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking report, in 2022, the share of adults who said they were worse off financially than a year earlier rose to the highest level since the question was first asked in 2014.  At 35 percent, this share is more than double the 14 percent who reported they were worse off financially than a year earlier in the 2019 report.  Increased financial literacy and the associated planning is a bulwark against such dramatic shifts in our economy and economic well-being. 

I have read reports Albert Einstein stated that “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” Actively teaching young people how to manage money from an early age is much like the power of compound interest.  The knowledge builds upon itself.  Young people armed with this education can build strong financial foundations and avoid crippling financial mistakes.  They can be active participants in increasing the economic activity and growth of Idaho and the nation’s economies. 

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