A series of personal finance institutes is taking place in Missouri’s college towns. The initiative is being led by State Treasurer Clint Zweifel. Zweifel says he was part of the 2005 legislature that passed a law making it a requirement for high school students in Missouri to get a half credit personal finance course.

But, Zweifel says passing a law is sometimes not enough, and following up on the requirement with relevant information is vital to the success of the program.

He says continuing education for teachers needs to be a part of that formula to make the requirement beneficial for young people. The Treasurer’s Office is partnering with college professors in the day-long seminars for teachers in St. Louis, Kansas City, Warrensburg, Columbia and Springfield, which will look at the current economic climate.

That includes student loan rates — which Zweifel says is a brand new precedent — and that 32 percent of high school students already have a credit card. He says 75 percent of Missouri’s college students already have credit card debt, and only 43 percent of high school seniors can pass a financial literacy test. He’s hoping these seminars, and the classes, will lead to students being better prepared to be successful in the marketplace.

Columbia’s workshop is taking place tomorrow (Thursday). St. Louis, Kirksville and Warrensburg workshops were held earlier this week, and Friday there will be a workshop in Kansas City.

“One of the best ways to help our children succeed is to teach them how to manage their personal finances,” he says.

He says the Missouri Council on Economic Education’s Personal Finance Institute supports teaching financial literacy in high school classrooms — “a positive and necessary step.”

But, he says, more needs to be done.

“Financial literacy starts at home.”

He’s asking families start teaching their children about money, savings and the proper use of credit from an early age, and recommends parents help children open a savings account and getting them involved in the family budgeting process, as well as helping them set financial goals.

“Strong money management skills are vital to success now more than ever,” Zweifel says. “By teaching our children when they are young, we ensure these important lessons will stay with them for a lifetime.”