As we ride out the economic crisis, everyone is responding in different ways. At Teen Voices, we directly impact the way girls live their lives as adults, so we decided to address the issue through teaching teens about responsible handling of personal finances. To do this, we teamed up with the Financial Services Forum at UMass Boston’s Department of Accounting and Finance. Teen Voices peer leader Anna-Cat Brigida, 17, attended the workshop and shares her thoughts on the event.
On April 21 and 22, Teen Voices’ teen editors attended a financial workshop at UMass Boston. I know, you’re probably thinking finances are so boring! But that is where you are wrong! The financial literacy workshop was a blast, and it was very informative. The presenters gave us a ton of useful information about how to spend our money wisely and plan for the future.
The staff at UMass – including Kristen Callahan, Nicole LaPointe, and Annette Florczak — really managed to make it fun for us to learn about money. We played a board game that allowed us to see what expenses and obstacles we will have to deal with as adults. The teen editors became very competitive over the game, which made things more interesting. We also learned how to make a budget and keep a log, to keep tracking of how we are spending our money…this helps us see where we might be wasting resources. We talked about how we love spending our money, which was a fun part of the conversation, and something all the workshop participants all had in common.
On Day 2 of the finance workshop, we talked primarily about credit cards and how to manage them. We learned how to use credit cards responsibly – which means only spending what we can pay back. The presenters shared their own personal stories of financial mistakes they had made in the past, and showed us that it’s easy to accumulate thousands of dollars of debt in a short amount of time. Hearing that they (now financial experts!) had made mistakes with credit cards in the past showed us just how easy it is to abuse credit. Although it is important not to go over the limit, we also learned that it is good to have a credit card in order to establish some type of credit, because no credit is just as bad as bad credit. We also learned the difference between debit cards versus credit cards: when you pay with a debit card, the money comes straight from your account, and paying with a credit card is like borrowing money.
The staff also taught us how to file taxes when we get a job. We learned about certain forms, such as the W-2, W-4, and 1040EZ, which everyone all required to fill out when you have a job. While filling out these forms, we learned what information we need to include, and what tax returns actually are. Knowing how to fill out the tax returns was a very important part of the Workshop, especially because many of us didn’t even know about it beforehand. Now we won’t stress out about our taxes like so many people do. This experience was super helpful. Who knew that learning about money can be fun?!