February 20, 2002
RATE YOUR FINANCIAL SAVVY
Online Quiz, For Young Women,
By Young Women, Tests Knowledge of Key Terms And Concepts Needed
for Smart Money Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. As a group,
young women are often better known for their ability to spend
money than to manage it.
Recent studies have shown that 47 percent of single women ages
21 to 34 carry unpaid credit card balances averaging about $2,000,
and almost half live paycheck to paycheck.
Moreover, studies have shown that women in general-and college-aged
women in particular-tend to avoid dealing with matters of personal
To begin to counter such attitudes toward money, Smith College
has created an online quiz [www.smith.edu/wfi/toolbox.html]
for women who want to evaluate their knowledge of personal finance.
Designed and created by Smith students, the 15-question quiz
addresses practical financial concerns of women graduating from
college, including basic budgeting, financing a car purchase,
repaying student loans and using credit cards wisely.
Because women are less likely than men to receive a pension,
and much more likely to enter their retirement years in poverty,
the quiz also delves into areas that might seem remote to a 22-year-old,
including how to choose a retirement plan, the benefits and drawbacks
of stock options and techniques of long-term investing.
Most important, notes Smith College economist Mahnaz Mahdavi,
the questions and answers are presented free of jargon and assume
no prior knowledge of money matters.
"Too often, young women think there's something mysterious
about money," Mahdavi explains.
"They think that if they don't already speak the specialized
vocabulary of '401k's' or of 'options and futures' then they
can't enter into the discussion. And that's simply not true,"
The online quiz is part of a new endeavor directed by Mahdavi,
known as "Women & Financial Independence: The Smith
College Program in Financial Education." Established in
partnership with Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Ann Kaplan, a Smith
alumna and trustee, who together have provided $2.5 million in
seed money, the program consists of a series of non-credit courses-"Financing
Life," "Principles of Investing," "Entrepreneurship"
and more-designed to help young women take hold of their own
financial futures by understanding the central role of economics
in their lives.
The program is believed to be the first in the nation aimed specifically
at undergraduate women. Record numbers of students have already
participated in the courses, which began in September 2001 and
are ongoing. The program has been featured in Business Week,
Newsday and the Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio
and on NBC's "Today" show.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost
liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state
and 50 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's
college in the country.