United for Women teaching teenage girls about financial futures early

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Since its launch in 2012, United for Women has focused on raising money and providing assistance to women whose lives are in turmoil as a result of job loss, illness or some other unanticipated event.

But for one hour next week, United for Women — an initiative of United Way of Allegheny County — will shift its focus to teenage girls with a program designed to give them some basic financial know-how and stress the importance of becoming financially literate before they become adults.

Sharon Epperson, a Pittsburgh native and CNBC personal finance correspondent, will host the June 21 event, which is an afternoon tea sponsored by the Eden Hall Foundation at the PNC YMCA, Downtown. Ms. Epperson will be in town for a United for Women fundraising event to be held that evening at the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel.

Also scheduled to speak at the tea is Julia Kramer, a retired certified public accountant who runs her own financial education business in Ohio Township.

“Accounting wasn’t my passion. I love numbers, but my passion is teaching people about personal finance,” said Ms. Kramer, 48, who characterizes herself as a financial therapist, not a financial planner or investment adviser.

At the tea, she plans to deliver a presentation about the perils of racking up credit card debt. By using a purchase most teens can relate to, such as a pizza or clothing, Ms. Kramer will show how long it would take to pay off a credit card bill by making only a minimum monthly payment with an interest rate of 19 percent.

“It will show what it prevents them from doing and what that money would be worth if they invested it,” she said. “Credit card debt is more expensive than they would imagine and reduces their future options in life.”

Many of her clients, she said, hire her to teach their young adult children about “budgeting and healthy personal finance habits as they enter the workforce.”

“I blow their minds when I explain to them it’s possible to live without credit card debt.”

United for Women invited teens affiliated with local YMCAs, YWCAs, the Girl Scouts and other United Way agencies to attend. Some will be accompanied by their mothers.

If the event is well received, it could launch a series of programs targeted at teaching financial skills to teen girls, said Angela Reynolds, United Way’s director of programs for financially struggling adults and families.

“If you wait until you are older or in crisis, like 25 years old or above, it’s too late in the process to plant the seeds to be financially responsible and in control of your finances,” Ms. Reynolds said.

To date, United for Women has raised $1.5 million to support its programs, which range from helping homeless women to providing aid to female veterans and financial coaching.

Earlier this week, United Way said it would allocate $575,000 from its Impact Fund over the next year to support five programs developed by United for Women.

For reservations to the June 21 tea, which is free of charge, contact Pat.Siger@uwac.org or Elaine.Frombach@uwac.org.

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.

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