Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 3, 2013

Banker teaches financial literacy at AHS

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — To encourage financial literacy among today’s high schoolers, a banking expert stopped by Andover High School math classes recently to give students a tutorial on money management.

Amy LaMoche, branch supervisor and business development officer for the Reading Cooperative Bank on Central Street, spoke to three high school math classes on Dec. 19 and 20 about financial literacy.

“Working in a bank, in a retail bank, you have a lot of customers who have come in and [have] fouled up their accounts,” LaMoche said. “Either they’re adults who were never taught the discipline of having an account and keeping track of their balances, or students who have gone off to college and gotten into a mess with their debit cards.”

LaMoche sought to teach students how to balance a checkbook and follow account details in order to avoid credit trouble with long-term ramifications.

“One of the things they hadn’t realized is if you have a problem with a bank and you overdraw and leave the bank without paying them off, it creates a black mark on your file and will usually prevent you from opening an account anywhere else,” she said. “That was an eye-opener for the kids.”

Some of the students weren’t aware of the differences between debit and credit cards, and “whether you overdraw by $5 or $500, there’s a big fee that comes from it.”

“A lot of good questions came out of it. I was impressed by the level of understanding of some of the kids,” LaMoche said. “The message I try to put across is opening a checking account while you’re still in high school, maybe junior or senior year. Figure out how to use it while under your parents’ roof, and form good habits.

“That way, when you go off to college, you won’t fall into trouble,” she added.

State Sen. Barry Finegold, an advocate of school-level financial literacy programs, applauded the effort.

“This is a major problem among our youth,” he said. “I think it’s great. The more public-private partnerships we have, the better off we’ll be. To encourage younger people to get a hold of their financial liabilities, I think, is really important.”

In the recent legislative session, the state passed an effort started by Susan Tucker, Finegold’s predecessor, that starts a financial literacy pilot program in some urban school systems in the commonwealth. The program operates within mathematics curriculum at the high school level.

“If it works well there, we hope to scale it across all school systems,” Finegold said.

For more information or questions about this story, email dluca@andovertownsman.com.