Helping Youth Focus on their Financial Futures

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

July 24, 2008

As the state of the economy has many struggling to get by, a group of young adults took it upon themselves to teach teens about their financial futures.

With the conclusion of a successful six week program at Charlottesville High School a volunteer group of students from the University of Virginia chose to hold a 4 day intensive seminar for teens called Financial Literacy for Youth.

The program highlights the importance of budgeting, spending and saving and determining between needs and wants.

“It's a lot of stuff that we need to know that we don't know,” 15-year-old, Kia Lathon said.

“People aren't as financially literate as they should be,” UVa grad student and program counselor, Christopher McMichael said.

Counselors advise teens to start by saving money in envelope or even setting up a check or savings account.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I'll start when I’m 25 with a full time job,’” 17-year-old participant, Allen Pinn said.

Those individuals running the institute are about 4 years removed with high school, so they know what these kids are going through now and the financial hurdles the will soon be facing.

“Keeping up with the latest trends and all that,” McMichael said.

“Sometimes you’re like well everyone else has it. I want it too, but you have to do what you have to do,” Pinn said.

Acknowledging early that food, clothing and shelter are the three most important needs, counselors say teens can then determine if they have money budgeted for their wants.

“My future is more important that some tennis shoes I want right now,” Pinn said.

The program was formed to inspire youth to learn more themselves as well as spark an interest in their financial futures.

“One of the biggest goals that we want to achieve is to know that the kids want to do something with their lives,” counselor, Amber Pinn said.

“It's nice that someone actually cares enough about our generation to tell us this stuff that we need to know in the future,” Lathon added.

The group is supported by the UVa Office of Diversity and Equity, Office of African American Affairs, the Parents Committee and the IMP society. Counselors plan to run another six-week course at CHS this fall.

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