Teens schooled on per­sonal fi­nance

JA work­shop teaches fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, in­clud­ing per­ils of not pay­ing a cell­phone bill

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - TYLER KULA tkula@postmedia.com

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.

TYLER KULA/THE OB­SERVER

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.

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