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SALT LAKE CITY — There was a time when a school home economics class was about helping students learn their way around the kitchen. Today, however, the focus has moved away from homemaking toward home budgeting.
A group of juniors at West High School in received instruction about the finer points of money and credit management Tuesday from some high-profile sources.
In recognition of National Get Smart About Credit Day, executives from Zions Bank — including President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Anderson — gave a presentation on the perks and pitfalls of credit in a financial literacy class.
“(We're) hoping to provide a road map for students to embark on the journey to good credit,” Anderson said. “Building strong credit takes time, and teens need to begin healthy financial habits early — before they graduate and go to college.”
During the presentation, Anderson — along with Executive Vice President Rob Brough — explained how expensive credit could be if consumers only make minimum payments and incur high interest rates over long periods. It's a lesson not lost on 16-year old student Teddy Mugweh.
"I'd rather save money and only spend what I have (rather) than (running up a huge credit card debt)," he said.
Students also learned how the economy is impacted by consumer spending, which affects employment, production and overall growth.
"Being a consumer helps the economy, so (my spending will) depend on what I want," Mugweh explained. "When it comes to (big items) like cars, I'll probably be a consumer. But when it comes to something like a house, I'll be a saver."
While Mugweh has yet to obtain a credit card, he does have two bank accounts, as does classmate Synclare Chan Sau.
(We're) hoping to provide a road map for students to embark on the journey to good credit. Building strong credit takes time, and teens need to begin healthy financial habits early.
–- Scott Anderson
But, the 17-year old also has a credit card that — until now — she has been reluctant to use. Now, armed with a better understanding of utilizing credit, she plans to take advantage of the valuable resource.
"Having credit looks good when you go to buy things or get a loan," Chan Sau said. "The bank will look (favorably upon you) if you have good credit."
She said learning how the economy works will help her manage her money and credit more responsibly.
"I'll save half and spend half," Chan Sau said. "I have to be smart with my money."
In addition to credit, the students were schooled on economic fundamentals and how the Utah is fairing economy compared to the rest of the nation.
"Utah is the third fastest growing economies in the country," said Randy Shumway, chief executive officer of The Cicero Group. "The state of Utah saw unemployment go down."
Even with the growth and stability, consumer confidence in the Beehive State remained mostly flat compared to last month.
The Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index for Utah decreased to 68.1 in October from 70.7 in September. Despite the slight decrease, optimism in the state rose 8.0 points in the past two months as consumers regain economic confidence, according to Shumway.
Currently, the Utah Index sits 28.3 points higher than the U.S. Index of 39.8. The Zions Bank CAI is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households.
Higher confidence often leads to increased consumer spending, which may help facilitate further economic growth in the state, Shumway said.
"There are many, many reasons to have confidence in the economy moving forward," he said.