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Montecito Bank & Trust to Teach Children the Value of Saving Money

Volunteers will spend Tuesday helping students at local schools learn the basics of finance, including analyzing needs vs. wants

Imagine being stranded on a desert island and having only $50 to spend on items needed to survive. Montecito Bank & Trust volunteers will use that hypothetical situation on Tuesday in their efforts to teach students how to spend and save their money effectively and efficiently for Teach Children to Save Day.

“Kids learn basic math, reading and writing but not how to make smart financial decisions as adults,” said Janet Garufis, bank president and CEO. “If those conversations aren’t taking place at school or at the dinner table, they probably aren’t happening.”

Montecito Bank & Trust volunteers will teach the basics of finance to students throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. They will honor Teach Children to Save Day by letting them know the importance of saving, how to plan to spend money, analyzing needs versus wants, and how to make money grow.

Garufis said many students don’t learn about these concepts from school or their parents.

“I can’t imagine as a country why we wouldn’t think it’s important to educate our next level of leaders about money; it’s basic stuff but really important,” she said.

As students understand what they need vs. what they want at a young age, they will have a more financially responsible future, Garufis said.

“In a society where consumerism is king and people are so needy of gratifying every whim, analyzing needs versus wants is important at all ages,” she said, adding that children often don’t have an understanding of what’s required to survive and thrive.

Garufis said the topic particularly resonates more today because nearly everyone has been affected by the financial crisis in some way.

“They have seen what’s happening to their parents and can’t help hear stories of people losing their business, jobs or homes,” she said. “If you connect the dots for kids now, it will have a meaningful impact.

“It might have fallen on deaf ears five or six years ago because they think there will always be a lot of money. The fact that it has happened over all social strata is really eye-opening.”

Garufis will be one of 52 bank volunteers teaching 1,500 students at 21 local schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We have learned firsthand what happens when you don’t do good job handling finances or don’t pay attention to a contract you sign,” Garufis said. “You can’t rely on other people to do that work for you.”

She said children may have questions about how to handle money partly because of their parents’ lack of understanding.

“What’s been apparent to us over the last couple of years and the economic crisis is customers often don’t understand what banks do with their money,” she said. “I think it’s alarming that people don’t have a better sense of what it takes to budget.”

National Teach Children to Save Day has provided education programs that lead to financial literacy since 1997, as a part of the American Bankers Association Education Foundation’s Teach Children to Save Program.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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