Nearly 80 percent of American workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by CareerBuilder. Almost 75 percent are in some form of debt and most assume they always will be. About 25 percent did not save any money month to month according to the same report.
Those were a few facts displayed Monday on a screen inside of The Home of Philanthropy prior to Central Kentucky Community Foundation’s announcement of a $65,000 endowment fund to pay for financial literacy curriculum and programs in Hardin County’s four high schools beginning this school year.
The money, named the Financial Foundations Fund, came from Mark and Sheree Nelson.
Mark Nelson, president of operations for Planet Fitness, said he first noticed a need to push financial literacy when entry-level managers had no idea about budgeting, cost control or economy of scale. When the company began offering 401(k) retirement plans, he also noticed there were employees who didn’t want to take part because they didn’t understand it.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a lot of young professionals with talent not think about their financial future and that really bothered me,” he said.
Nelson said financial illiteracy is a large problem and must be fixed.
“I really want to challenge any leader in Hardin County to make sure that we can be a real brick wall against the negative trend that continues in our society when it comes to financial literacy,” he said.
Tiffany Spratt, a Central Hardin High School business education teacher, said teaching financial literacy would help educate students about the basics of finances, such as credit cards.
“A lot of our young people don’t know about a savings or checking account until they get in with us,” she said.
For her classes, Spratt said the money will be used to pay for an updated Dave Ramsey financial program and pay for speakers.
“So they (the students) can have real-life connections,” she said. “I think that it’s wonderful for them to have the real-life connections and ... not just see it on a screen or taking notes or having an assessment over it.”
William Abel, a first-year Elizabethtown Community and Technical College student who shared his experience of financial literacy, said it was important for people to know finances, especially when it comes to personal budgets.
“The economy is not going to prosper forever,” he said. “At one point we’re going to need to know what to do with our money.”
Completion of a financial literacy course or program will be a high school graduation requirement for incoming freshmen next school year.