The people of this country have become all too familiar with the consequences of financial troubles. Too many have experienced the crippling effects of debt and the sense of helplessness and discouragement that it leaves in its wake. Moving forward, we can’t settle for more of the same. Rather than enabling a future riddled with financial problems, we must look to the younger generations and help them learn how to manage money and make smart and responsible financial decisions.
Whether it is a recent college graduate organizing his finances for the first time, a young entrepreneur building his business from the ground up, or a North Charleston boy raised in poverty by a single mother, I’ve seen firsthand the positive effects of this kind of knowledge and awareness. My journey, although personal, parallels that of so many others, and that’s why I’m confident that encouraging financial literacy can provide a much-needed sense of hope, empowering countless individuals to seize the wealth of opportunity that this great country has to offer.
April is National Financial Literacy Month, and I believe that one of the best things we can do for our youth is empower them to become financially literate.
Financial literacy is incredibly important for families across America, and especially for those families and students who will be taking out student loans in order to advance their education. That is why financial literacy continues to be a significant part of my legislative agenda because all Americans deserve the opportunity to succeed – it’s as simple as that.
Last March, I introduced the Empowering Student Borrowers Act (S.781) with Senator Joe Donnelly, which would aim to improve the financial literacy of college students and ensure that student borrowers have access to the best tools and information to make responsible borrowing decisions. This legislation is necessary if we are going to get serious about not only our children’s future, but also the future and economic growth of our great nation.
On the same topic, last year, I also worked with Visa on a game called Financial Football and distributed it to more than 500 schools throughout South Carolina. Recognizing the need to start young in teaching the value of financial literacy, this game serves as a fun tool developed to teach teenagers basic financial skills, highlighting how critical they truly are. These two solutions are just first steps in the right direction. As we look to generate more solutions to secure the brightest possible future for our country, I’ve found that it’s useful, and almost necessary, to first consider the past – to take a look at where we’ve been in order to determine where we’re going.
For me, that means looking back to growing up in a single parent household in North Charleston, South Carolina. My mom worked 16-hour days to provide for my brother and me, and I got my first job at 13. Although not always remaining on track, the constant love of my mom and the power of a mentor, I ended up graduating college, starting my own small business, and eventually working my way to where I am now, proudly serving the people of South Carolina.
What has remained a consistent theme throughout my journey is the power of financial literacy and getting a grasp on that simple information changed my life, providing me the possibility of financial mobility and opportunity. It taught me that, despite where I started, I could achieve prosperity, and it has the power to do the same for others.
By laying a solid groundwork for financial literacy and education, we can help reduce loan debt, ensure more of our youth have the opportunity to reach their education goals, and help more families map out financial goals, empowering them to take control of their futures. I will continue to promote financial literacy for the sake of our youth, our state, and our country.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott is a junior senator from South Carolina.