Teens schooled on personal finance
JA workshop teaches financial literacy, including perils of not paying a cellphone bill
Travis Hooper says he sees it all the time – young people walking into bank branches with less-thanstellar credit because they didn’t know any better.
Often, said the manager of Sarnia-Lambton’s six Royal Bank branches, it’s the fallout of missed payments on a cellphone.
“That’s one of the companies that does report to (credit bureaus) on a regular basis,” he said. “And that initial phone purchase that you think you get for $0 is actually debt that’s incurred and paid through on a monthly basis.”
Miss a payment and your credit takes a hit, he said.
“Every payment you make on your cellphone bill is going to impact your future credit.”
It was one of a smattering of financial life lessons he and a handful of other bankers spent the day imparting to Grade 10 students as part of a Junior Achievement workshop in Sarnia-Lambton Tuesday.
The new secondary school personal finance program saw 100 teens from Northern Collegiate, Great Lakes Secondary and St. Pat’s at the Point Edward Best Western for a four-hour conference on financial literacy “soft skills” like budgeting, said Junior Achievement of South Western Ontario president Barb Smith.
“It’s giving them those essential skills that they need in order to come out more financially sound in their futures.”
That means understanding what it costs to rent an apartment, to buy a car, and how to prioritize eating out, versus entertainment, versus clothes, versus other potential purchases, she said.
The workshop also covered how to avoid scams and fraud, and to assess risks on things such as high-interest borrowing.
Most students had limited understanding of the basics, based on surveys filled out at the start of the workshop, Smith said.
“You could tell it was the first time some of them had even seen a budget,” she said.
Isaac Taylor, a 15-year-old St. Pat’s student from Forest, said he agrees most have little idea what’s involved in personal finance.
“Not good,” he said about the knowledge in general among his peers, adding he thinks education needs to start in elementary school and continue in high school.
Junior Achievement currently also offers in-class programs for students in grades 5 to 8, Smith said. “We teach them interview dos and don’ts, so how to actually get the job to pay for those expenses.”
The new workshop is a national Junior Achievement program, and JA South Western Ontario is hosting one each in Sarnia, Windsor and Chatham, Smith said. It’s funded with $25,600 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Travis Hooper, community manager for Royal Bank in Sarnia-Lambton, talks with youngsters about spotting fraud during a workshop on financial literacy at the Point Edward Best Western Tuesday. Also pictured are 15-year-olds Greg Van Heyst, left, Nicholas Odorico, and Jesse McMahon. The workshop was presented by Junior Achievement South Western Ontario.