Young People and Financial Literacy How Can We Help Our Youth Prepare for Financial Success?
My company recently partnered with SOFA, the Society for Financial Awareness: Financial Literacy Provider. SOFA is a 501c3 Non Profit Organization that has been providing FREE Financial Literacy Seminars to Employees and the Public since 1993. All the instructors/speakers like myself and my team are volunteers. It is a vocational call to action for me because I see financial tragedies frequently in my work. I often think that if our school system would have included a mandatory financial awareness curriculum long ago, we would perhaps not be facing the economic crises we are currently experiencing across this country and beyond.
This organization is allowing me to fulfill one of my needs to give back and to continue working with young people since retiring from teaching a few short years ago. My career(s) across the past 30+ years has afforded me some wonderful experiences and exposure that I can impart to our future leaders through volunteerism.
I “fell” into my first teaching gig through the Junior Achievement program when I was working in engineering at AT&T. I had no idea what was involved, but I felt a strong pull to do something that would contribute to society. I often reflect on a fun memory from when I was working with 7th graders in Chantilly, VA and the teacher was sitting at his desk while I did my presentation. I proceeded to explain to the class how to successfully manage using a credit card. In a nutshell, I said, “it’s smart to use other people’s money for FREE.” I explained that when you want to use a credit card, you should know your closing date for the billing cycle. If you can hold off on making the purchase until the last day of the cycle, you gain an extra 15 days to pay off the balance in full! The teacher’s head popped up, and he said he never knew that tip! Think of it: you have two more weeks of paycheck accumulation to cover the bill without paying additional interest charges! The banks don’t want this to be taught, but it’s critical that we start to educate ourselves to navigate the financial world and avoid the traps that are everywhere – cars, houses, you name it.
So, if you are like me and you want to add another thing to your plate that is totally worth it as an investment in our future generation and a healthier society, look into a SOFA membership and/or volunteer through your local Junior Achievement program. If you are looking for philanthropic ideas, you can also get involved in Giving Circles. My company is also active in this philanthropic endeavor. Not familiar with Giving Circles? A group of people with shared values come together and discuss and decide where to make pooled gifts. This is a powerful way to make social change happen. There are currently more than 2,500 active circles around the world. Giving Circles have had cultural roots around the globe for decades. You can read more about Giving Circles and how to get involved here: https://philanthropytogether.org/what-is-a-giving-circle/
As you can see, there are options. If we do nothing, I fear our economic future is glum. Even baby steps can contribute to mindset changes and an awareness of the dangers of overextending or getting into debt without the resources to fulfill the obligations. I encourage you to get involved; the rewards are extremely gratifying and fruitful!
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