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If you’re not sitting down, you might want to grab a chair. These numbers are dizzying:

  • More than 4 in 10 young adults ages 18 to 21 fail to pay their bills on time every month.
  • The average credit card debt for college seniors is around $4,100. About 20 percent of college seniors report having more than $7,000 in credit card debt.
  • Savings rates have been falling for 20 years, to the point where average Americans today save less than 1 percent of their annual income.
  • Three in 10 adults say they have no savings at all.

Want to really freak yourself out? Combine those numbers with the fact that we’re living longer than ever. How are we going to fund our ever-growing lifespans? (And please don’t say, “Social Security.”)

All of this adds up to trouble.

Thankfully, there are folks out there who want to change things.

CPAs have been preaching the financial literacy gospel for years through the AICPA’s “Feed the Pig” and “360 Degrees” campaigns and state CPA society programs. On the legislative front, Maryland’s comptroller is among the public officials who say high school students should be required to master some basic financial literacy concepts before they graduate.

Now the profession is trying to strengthen that message with a bit of inspired collaboration.

The MACPA has joined forces with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland to help spread the good word of financial literacy through Maryland. As part of the partnership, MACPA members will be encouraged to volunteer in Junior Achievement programs, which encourage students to spend wisely and save early and often.

“Junior Achievement helps empower our youth by providing them with the skills necessary to succeed in a competitive, global economy,” said Jeff Klima, CPA, a senior manager with SC&H Group and vice chair of the MACPA’s New / Young Professionals Network. “As CPAs, we understand the significance of financial literacy and critical thinking; that is why the MACPA is proud to support JA of Central Maryland.”

There’s no time like the present. Junior Achievement reports that “demand for its financial education programs has doubled in response to Maryland State Department of Education regulations requiring local school systems to implement financial education standards for grades 3-12 beginning September 2011.”

“Partnering with Junior Achievement provides MACPA members with turn-key volunteer opportunities in their local communities and schools,” MACPA Deputy Executive Director Jackie Brown said. “It is these types of public-private partnerships that strengthen our communities.”

This is a huge opportunity. In the wake of the worst economic downturn of our lives, CPAs get to teach the next generation how to take control of their finances … and their future. Few things are as important as that.

Find out how to get involved by visiting JA’s “MACPA Partnership” page, then check out these other financial literacy resources:

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