Courses on financial literacy now available

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 26, 2016

About a dozen young men and women, none older than 21 but some already with children, got a lesson in financial literacy Wednesday at the Washington Parish Adult Education Learning Center in Franklinton.

The learning center is currently offering a free weekly course for anyone interested in saving money and more generally how the banking system works. For some, like one girl in the course who said she did not use banks at all, that system is an unknown, untrustworthy entity.

Bryant Buttoni, one of the two instructors in the class, said after Wednesday’s lesson, he was not surprised to meet people who’d never used banks. Buttoni and Jessica Constant, the other instructor, were both from Regions Bank.

“I’m honestly not surprised,” he said. “I’ve worked in different markets. I remember when I used to work in St. Bernard Parish, people would bring in CDM (coffee) cans (full of money) they’d buried in their yard. They’d come in and the can was covered in mud.”

Buttoni said there are good reasons for trusting banks, and among the best reasons are house fires and thieves that can can wipe out someone’s savings kept at home.

“That trend of cans in the ground or money under the mattress, that needs to stop,” he said.

Besides security, Buttoni said banks offer financial guidance.

“You need start a trusting your bank and get to know your banker,” he said. “They have got to know who to call should anything come about, like a lifestyle change.”

Constant led the class through some basic steps on listing their wants and their needs. Wants included items like coffee, guns and cigarettes, while needs included items like gas or diapers, and Constant told the class that saving money is like “paying money to yourself.” The way to do that is to cut back on some of the wants and hide that money in a bank.

“If you’re not spending it on what’s not needed, then put the rest in a bank, somewhere where it is out of sight and out of mind where it’s not burning a hole in your pocket,” she said, to the class.

Constant told the group that 42 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and she hopes she can educate people in Washington Parish on how to avoid that stressful situation.

“Finances are a big burden on people’s shoulders,” she said. “We don’t want that for the young America. We want to educate them so they have that step ahead.”

There will be three more courses, all of which are free and open to anyone over the age of 16.

The next course will deal with credit, then the second course will review the basics of banks and the last course will give tips on money management.

Each course will be held at the Washington Parish Adult Education Learning Center behind the school board office at 800 Main St. The courses begin at 10 a.m. For more information, call 985-839-7786.