In April Financial Literacy Month, LeConte Wealth Speaks to High School Seniors on Importance of Wise Credit Use and Savings Alcoa, Tenn. –
With spring graduations fast approaching, it’s time for high school seniors to finish their last days of classes and soon take the much-anticipated walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. With this life transition, these young adults must also prepare for their futures and the responsibility of managing their own finances. April is Financial Literacy Month, and Alcoa-based LeConte Wealth Management is taking part in local educational outreach by coaching high school seniors on the right way to maintain a good credit standing post-graduation.
The firm presented “LeConte’s Financial Real-World Challenge” April 9 at Maryville High School, where Kevin Painter, co-founder and managing partner, and Andy Oaks, financial planner, led interactive discussions and activities with graduating seniors as part of an effort to teach the importance of financial literacy.
With these activities, LeConte Wealth Management hopes to influence young adults to take their financial decisions seriously so that they will not accumulate damaging long-term debt. The firm also aims to teach young adults the benefits of saving money and building good credit for a stable future. According to LeConte Wealth, students’ need for financial literacy and good practical advice is more urgent than ever. “Debt for college students and young adults has always existed as a common concern – but in this economy, it’s even more of a challenge and a potential threat to young people’s financial futures,” Painter said. “With rising tuition costs nationwide, students are legitimately more hard-pressed to stretch their educational dollars along with their living expenses,” Painter said. “Plus, back at home, parents can easily be facing financial instability of their own with lost jobs and depleted savings, so students often have less of a safety net. It’s especially critical for students to get started on the right foot financially and to stay on track long-term.”
A September 2009 report by The Wall Street Journal indicated students now borrow more than ever for college, with the U.S. Department of Education reporting a steep rise in the 2008-2009 academic year alone, with total student-loan disbursements rising 25 percent over the previous year. A 2008 survey by Sallie Mae found that 84 percent of college students had a credit card, and of those cardholders, 92 percent used their card for college-related expenses. The average college graduate faces an average credit card debt of more than $4,100. “Maryville High School offers our Senior Seminars as a proactive approach to help prepare our seniors even more for life after high school,” said Maryville High School Principal Mike Casteel. “We are thankful to all of the outside presenters who volunteered to talk with our seniors during these seminars on such important topics as credit and money management.” In the Maryville High School session, LeConte Wealth taught the five C’s of maintaining good credit: capacity, capital, collateral, conditions and character. With the knowledge learned from the seminar, students will be more aware about maintaining good credit. “When students accumulate debt, they also have the potential to accumulate bad credit,” Painter said. “Credit is something that many young adults do not fully grasp until they are faced with their own credit problems.”
LeConte Wealth Management also offered the following tips on how to build a sound credit history:
- Keep your own checking and savings account. Use care not to overdraw your account by maintaining an accurate knowledge of account balances with every check written and debit card use.
- Establish a credit card in your own name, and use it responsibly.
- Pay bills before the due date, including at least several days for payments to process through the mail.
- Limit the number of credit cards you own. Too much open credit, even if the accounts have zero balances, will negatively affect your credit score.
- Close unused accounts—do not just cut the cards up—or the account will still show as an open line of credit on your credit report. Ask the issuer to state on your credit report, “account closed by consumer.”
- Limit the number of credit inquiries. Every time you apply for credit, it shows as an inquiry to your credit report. Too many inquiries are viewed negatively by lenders.
- A large number of recently established credit accounts may hurt your ability to be granted credit.
- Periodically obtain a copy of your credit report to verify that information reported is accurate and to look for ways that you can improve your credit.
LeConte Wealth Management is also available to speak to community groups about financial and wealth management topics. Groups interested in scheduling a presentation from LeConte should call 865-379-8200.