Tony Simmons

Florida State University Panama City will host a free Financial Wellness event for the community in which local experts will share information to help participants manage money for both short-term and long-term benefits.

Presenters will include Canita Gunter Peterson and Victoria Cronin of Thomas Howell Ferguson CPAs; Jeff DeBenedictis of Cadence Bank; and Mark Robinson of Operation HOPE. The session will be led by Diana Simpson, Ph.D., MBA, CFP, and a member of the Financial Planning teaching faculty.

“I tell my students that there are four ways to increase individual wealth significantly: start and grow your own business, invest in someone else's business through stock ownership, marry it, or inherit it,” Simpson said. “If you've ever considered starting a business, or are ready to grow the one you have, you'll want to hear this.”

Peterson and Cronin will discuss "Last Minute Tax Tips," DeBenedictis will present "Building Wealth through a Small Business," and Robinson will provide tips on "Getting Control of Your Debt," which will include a discussion about student loan debt.

“Credit card debt is at an all-time high in the U.S.,” Simpson said. “Recent data from the Federal Reserve indicates that credit card debt reached $1.3 trillion (about $4,000 per person in the United States) at the end of last year. The struggle is real. Credit card debt, increasing mortgage rates, student loan payments— these all need to be controlled or they will control you instead.”

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3, in the St. Joe Community Foundation Lecture Hall of the Holley Academic Center, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City. Admission is free, and a light lunch will be provided for those who register at Eventbrite. The event is sponsored by Thomas Howell Ferguson CPAs and Cadence Bank. For more information, email Simpson at dgs22c@fsu.edu.