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Financial Literacy Month events to emphasize education for teens

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

April is Financial Literacy Month and the Airman & Family Readiness Center is hoping to educate service members and their families on the whys and hows of building a financially secure future. Victor Villarreal, personal finance manager with the AFRC, knows that financial responsibility starts early.

“The younger you put money into an investment, the longer it's there to invest, the faster you're going to duplicate your money over a lifespan,” said Villarreal. He provides financial education to service members, their families and civilians, covering everything from saving to investing to budgeting. His services range from mandatory readiness touchpoints at major life events to one-on-one financial guidance. While handouts and slideshows might be fine for adults, reaching teens and kids requires a different approach.

Villareal will schedule between eight and 10 evening classes on finance for teens in the R. P. Lee Youth Center, each a half-hour in length. He's going for an interactive discussion with plenty of time for questions in lieu of slideshows.

Last year Villarreal focused on teaching younger children, bringing in financial educator Sam X. Renick. His “Sammy Rabbit” children’s books, such as “It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit” and “Sammy’s Big Dream,” make concepts like compound interest accessible to young audiences. Villarreal also uses enticements for audiences of all ages, ranging from “Sammy Rabbit” books to piggy banks and more.

For teen audiences, Villarreal will focus as much on avoiding debt as on building wealth. He’ll be discussing student loans, a subject that has only grown in importance.

“When you're a young adult, and you come into the workforce with $100,000 to $140,000 or more of student debt, it puts you in a hole right off the bat,” said Villarreal.

Villarreal hopes to give teens the tools they need to start conversations with their parents about money.

“The hope is to get them to discuss it, and then they can come in and see us,” said Villareal. “That's what we're here for. That's the guidance that we provide to them before they are in deep trouble financially.”

Villarreal’s office can be reached by phone at 719-556-0004 or by e-mail at victor.villarreal.6@us.af.mil

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