The ABC’s of Financial Literacy

Maria Financial LiteracyToday at training, Project CHANGE was treated to an expert  financial manager, Maria McElhenny, former Chevy Chase bank manager and entrepreneur. Maria did not pull any punches and said her passion is to scare young people into facing financial realities, the realities we so often avoid.

Rule number one was “Credit is King” and rule number thirty is “Credit is King.

Maria told us how things look from the desk of a bank manager and how little people know about how to handle their money. She gave ideas to the members how to build good credit and how to avoid the “dings” to your credit rating. She insisted that the two debtors you cannot ignore are the IRS and Student Loans. Before you pay off anyone else, be sure you pay these debts off. She insisted “Never co-sign on a loan for someone else.” When some of the members said that this was the only way they could take out a student loan, having their parents co- sign, she still insisted on her rule.

The team were engrossed as well as shocked, to learn about the hidden life of money and credit and how moving from an address and not knowing you owe  15 dollars on your credit card can do severe damage to your credit rating. The financial history we are  making now, Maria said, lasts 7 years in your credit file and a good credit rating is worth its weight in gold. It means the banks trust you enough to loan you money and not insist on huge regular repayment amounts.

Thanks Maria. As the director, I always enjoy our faculty when they come to teach, but I must admit today that I left as shocked as the members at what I did not know.