Money management: Local program teaches teens how to balance their budget

ANDOVER — In a class called "Money Smart for Young Adults," nine Andover High students learn to balance their checkbooks, understand interest rates and navigate their way through the college financial aid system.

This is one lesson that the teens — among a demographic often called "Generation Debt" — will most definitely use later in life. They are, after all, growing up during a recession.

The Savings Bank, with branches in Andover and surrounding areas, tapped Vice President of Marketing Raichelle Kallery to instruct the free, eight-session extra curricular evening class to the select group of girls every other week until February.

"Many teens and 20-somethings don't even know how to balance their checkbooks," said Kallery, who underwent special training to teach the class. "This group of high school girls is able to learn from each other. It's nice for them to share their experiences of overdrawing their accounts and trying to balance checks."

The teens in the class are residents of A Better Chance house, a nonprofit organization offering exceptional female students from urban high schools across the nation a chance to attend Andover High School.

Daniel Hall, ABC's chairman of development and a member of its board of directors, approached the bank about having the girls in the program take the class last fall.

"It struck me as really important for our students at a time when the economy is troubled," he said. "So many people have trouble saving money, and it's these basic skills that are so important."

In today's society, teens must brace themselves for the burdens of growing college enrollment costs, cell phone and credit card bills.

At ABC house, Kallery has taught the girls in hour-and-a-half long sessions about the different financial institutions, budgeting, and protecting their financial rights. The bank offers the series through a program by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Last April, the FDIC created the "Money Smart for Young Adults" curriculum as a spin-off of its Adult Financial Literacy Program to help teens learn the basics of handling their money and finances.

Now offered all over the country, it intends to equip young people with the basics of financial education can give them the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to manage their finances once they enter the real world.

"We're looking to reach teens and give them confidence and skills and help them understand what their options are," Kallery said. "Their eyes are being opened of how one things leads tot he next."

She said the bank is hoping to teach the class to other community groups in the future.

COLLEGE COSTS

19,000 — The average dollar amount that the average undergraduate student owes upon college graduation, according to a recent study by Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

16 — The anticipated percentage increase of undergraduate four-year college enrollment by 2014, according to America's Student Loan Providers.

95 — The percentage that debt owed by college seniors has increased over the past decade.