For teachers at Leeds Primary School, the tables were turned as they sat quietly in the school library and listened.
Thomas Stroud provided the reasons. In just 30 minutes, Stroud and fellow Regions bankers Tiffiany Abel and Cristy Davis provided a financial education overview to help each of the teachers for years to come.
And one of Stroud’s first lessons to the teachers: Plan for the future just as you plan for the classroom.
“You talk to your spouse,” Stroud said. “But when was the last time you talked to your spouse about money? When was the last time you sat down and planned out the next 10 years financially?”
That’s just what Amy Yarbrough, a Pre-K aide at the small-town school in Alabama, wanted to hear.
“I was expecting a discussion on retirement and learning how to set a good one up,” Yarbrough said. “But I also learned about establishing an emergency fund. My kids are young. I want them set if something happens to me.”
A Financial Wellness Relationship Manager for Regions, Stroud taught teachers how to maximize their personal wealth, covering retirement, savings, credit and paying off debt. He also focused on the dangers of fraud, a concern amplified by the rise of technology.
Abel, the branch manager of Regions Bank in Leeds, told the teachers that her staff spends a cumulative 10 hours each week helping customers deal with fraud.
Meanwhile, Davis, the Team Lead at the Leeds branch and a Financial Relationship Senior Consultant, provided a basic breakdown of retirement investment options.
For the youngest teachers, the topic of retirement was front and center even though it may be decades away. Recent changes in Alabama’s state retirement system created two tiers of retirees. Teachers in the original system, Tier 1, can retire after 25 years. But more recent hires, Tier 2, can’t draw a penny from their fund until they near the traditional retirement age.
John J. Moore, the Superintendent of Education for Leeds City Schools, watched intently as his teachers took the information in and fired back with questions.
“This was exceptionally important, especially for teachers in the Tier 2 retirement plan,” Moore said. “Those teachers will need a side investment because they can’t (receive retirement benefits) until age 62 and because their benefit ratio is less. It’s so important to invest in yourself.”
That lesson hit home for Yarbrough recently. Both her father and mother-in-law recently took retirement, and her dad has been providing her with pros and cons to encourage her to start planning now. Yarbrough shared that message with the Regions bankers afterward.
“My dad laid it out, and he tells me you have to be ready – don’t wait until later,” Yarbrough said. “Now I feel like I have resources and I can put a plan together.”