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Money Smart News - Winter 2008

Financial Education Offers a Path to First-Time Homeownership: Success Stories and Teaching Tips

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Grace Estivenson, a financial educator in Florida who recently taught the FDIC's Money Smart curriculum in English and Spanish for a bank in Casselberry, remarks that many of her students, particularly immigrants, are "very misinformed about the programs and institutions available to help when they have questions or need assistance." Estivenson gave the example of a couple from Mexico -- the husband a master carpenter and roofer, the wife busy at odd jobs while also taking care of their three kids -- who got robbed twice in their home by thieves who knew that the family didn't use a bank account and "carried their cash everywhere."

But after taking the Money Smart course, she said, the family opened a checking account, a regular savings account and an Individual Development Account that featured matching contributions from private and public sources for low-income people who want to buy a first home. Within six months, the couple applied for a loan to start a roofing business, which is now growing. More recently, they became homeowners. What made the difference? "Thanks to Money Smart," said Estivenson, "they learned that they have the security of the banking system to help and support them."

Homeownership is still the American dream for many people. And despite the current turmoil in real estate markets, many individuals will become homeowners this year, thanks in large part to financial education being offered by hard-working, dedicated staff at nonprofit organizations, government agencies and banking institutions. How can financial educators help people who want to buy their first home? Here are some tips and success stories:

The FDIC congratulates banks, non-profit organizations and others for helping more Americans achieve the American dream – and just as importantly, retain it. Financial educators interested in becoming involved in the Money Smart program or other FDIC community development efforts are encouraged to contact their regional Community Affairs Officer.

See more Money Smart success stories (Read more.)

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