Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 10:00 am | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

Business

Montecito Bank & Trust Invests Time in Financial Literacy

Company volunteers teach the basics to 1,500 students at 21 local schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade

Montecito Bank & Trust employee volunteers spent Thursday morning teaching kids about financing basics at Santa Barbara County schools.

Nearly 60 volunteers participated in the American Bankers Association’s National Teach Children to Save Day by teaching fifth- through 12th-graders at Adelante Charter School and Santa Barbara High School.

Montecito Bank & Trust president and CEO Janet Garufis previously told Noozhawk that local schools haven’t put enough emphasis on financial literacy.

“Kids learn basic math, reading and writing, but not how to make smart financial decisions,” she said. “If those conversations aren’t taking place at school or at the dinner table, they probably aren’t happening. It’s basic stuff but really important.”

The volunteers discussed the importance of saving, how to plan to spend money, analyzing needs versus wants, and how to make money grow.

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

“They have seen what’s happening to their parents, and can’t help but 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.”

Montecito Bank & Trust executive assistant Brianna Aguilar said a student’s understanding of money often directly correlates to his or her parents’ financial literacy.

“It’s an issue that most people don’t want to talk about, but people are aware of,” she said. “Many people have a lot of shame around the topic, and don’t feel comfortable asking questions.”

A lot of that has to do with starting the conversation, Aguilar added. One of the students told her he was starting to be less afraid about credit and budgeting and more curious.

“When the topic is brought up to teens, they will open up more than adults, but it usually requires someone else starting the conversation,” Aguilar said.

Overall, Montecito Bank & Trust volunteers will teach 1,500 students at 21 local schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Volunteers will head to Ventura County schools next Wednesday.

“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,” Garufis said.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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