By Aaron Evans, CFA, CFP®, Senior advisor
I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of students participating in a pilot self-development workshop series at the Midtown Utica Community Center (MUCC). MUCC is an inclusive multicultural and refugee-friendly facility, so many of the participants are refugees or children of refugees. They range in age from junior high all the way to some recent college graduates.
The invitation was for me to come talk to them about finance, a topic that several of the participants had been asking to discuss. With such a broad audience and broad topic, initially I was worried about what exactly to talk about. Finance can mean a lot of different things to people. Just as I was preparing an outline, I came across a Tweet that read as follows: “It’s 2019….get rid of some of the old curriculum in high schools and replace it with Finance Fundamentals. Teach kids about careers (not just college), salaries, credit, budgeting, money management, taking out a loan, buying a house and filing their taxes”. There it was. Not only because this essentially became my outline, but because this Tweet was right on. So many people never learn some of these basic personal finance skills. Even after high school and four years studying engineering in college, I went out into the real world lacking this knowledge.
When I got to MUCC, I knew right off the bat that it was going to be a great experience. About 15 participants showed up, on-time, on a Saturday. That act alone was enough to win me over. We started discussing topics from basic budgeting skills, to banking, to investing, to the multiple careers paths that finance offers. All along the way, they asked questions, followed up my answers with even more in-depth questions and crowded me during our five-minute break to ask more. We got into the math behind some material on the whiteboard and participants shared some of their personal experiences with each other. As you can imagine, there are now apps and online resources for just about all of these topics, so listing our favorites wrapped up the end of each section. I was beyond impressed, and then when I asked how we were doing on time, one participant said, “Please stay as long as you want, we love this stuff.” Thank you very much to MUCC for inviting me. I met some amazing, eager, motivated young people and had a great day teaching, but more importantly learning.