Scouts to Get Rewarded for Creating a Budget with Mom, Dad as Part of Life Skills Training

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 21, 2005) - Pointing to a new study showing that six in 10 college students never pay their credit card balances in full, the Boy Scouts of the Los Angeles Area Council announced today that “boys can now get smart about money” under a new program, Teaching America Money, being launched with ABC Radio host and money expert Jennifer Openshaw.

Under Openshaw’s “Teaching America Money” Program, Scouts will be able to receive a free copy of Openshaw’s Quick & Easy Budget Kit CD. Scouts who complete a budget with either parent will then be rewarded with a Money Skills patch and certificate of completion.

“This program can make a real difference in the lives of our Boy Scouts,” says Israel Cobos, Director of the Rio Hondo District. “Our hope is that it will become a national model so that kids learn some of the most basic money lessons, from budgeting to avoiding bad debt.”

“Everywhere you turn, companies and even colleges are encouraging our teens to take on credit card debt,” says Openshaw, host of “Winning Advice with Jennifer Openshaw” airing nationwide on ABC Radio and CEO of Openshaw’s Family Financial Network. “This program is about helping every Scout and every family avoid the bad debt trap and get on the path to financial security early on.”

Cobos, who is leading the Teaching America Money program on behalf of the Scouts of Los Angeles, said that the biggest benefit of the program is the availability of the Budget Kit program, which “provides boys with a simple tool to put words into action.”

The Budget Kit, which has been featured on CNN and in the Washington Post, comes with easy-to-use budgeting software and an electronic copy of the Budget Workbook. The Kit normally retails for $19.99, but copies are being donated free by Openshaw and LendingTree.com, a website where banks compete to give borrowers the best loan offers. More information about the Quick & Easy Budget Kit is available through www.winningadvice.com.

“One of a Scout’s major purchases will hopefully be their first home,” says Doug Lebda, founder and chief executive officer of LendingTree, LLC. “A big part of getting the key to that home – and building long-term financial health -- is to budget and save. This program is a win-win for Scouts and their families and underscores the importance of developing financial literacy skills in our kids.”

Openshaw says, “Not enough is being done to teach our kids about finances at a time when money is getting more complicated.” Today, she points out, 70 percent of Americans live paycheck-to paycheck and 40 percent spend more than they earn, according to the Federal Reserve. As a result, consumers face a record level of debt, with the average household carrying $9,000 in credit card debt, according to CardWeb.com, and as many as one in 10 families expected to file bankruptcy by the end of the decade. Among college students surveyed recently, half max out on their credit cards and six in 10 never pay their balances in full. The average credit card debt among students surveyed by Smith College was $2,400 with 14 percent of students carrying a $5,000 balance. The survey also found that most college students use their credit cards to pay for day-to-day living expenses instead of long-term needs.

“It’s our responsibility as adults to equip our kids with skills to manage the money they will bring home as adults,” said Steve Barnes, chief executive officer of Boy Scouts of America, Los Angeles Area Council. “By helping our kids become financially savvy, we can help them to reach their dreams and to be better able to give back to our communities.