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Financing the Future
by Garrett Valenzuela
Sep 29, 2012 | 7400 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Giovanis Montero, left, and Kate Robinson display an erasable check used in their financial literacy presentation Friday at Spanish Springs High School as part of the Youth Empowered to Succeed program.
Giovanis Montero, left, and Kate Robinson display an erasable check used in their financial literacy presentation Friday at Spanish Springs High School as part of the Youth Empowered to Succeed program.
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SPANISH SPRINGS -- A group of Spanish Springs High School seniors had their arms raised high and their ears perked toward the front of the classroom Friday afternoon when the question, “How many of you would someday like to buy your own car?” was asked.

The day’s lesson: financial literacy.

The Youth Empowered to Succeed (YES) program partnered with Greater Nevada Credit Union to bring SSHS students financial literacy as they prepare to graduate high school and head off into the ‘real’ world.

Dr. John Wynn, founder and director of YES, visits Spanish Springs High on Fridays and Mondays to help senior students plan for the future and realize their dreams and visions. Wynn said the financial literacy component will increase their understanding of life after high school.

“With the economy, I think it is important to teach kids not only about their dreams and visions, but that their dreams and visions have to be financed,” Wynn said. “My anticipation for these kids is that they will know how to handle their money to better succeed. I am hoping, through (Greater Nevada Credit Union) training, this will give them an understanding of what they are going to need in the future. We are trying to give them some direction, some life skills and some understanding of what the real world is about because so many kids just want to be out on their own but don’t realize what it consists of. We are trying to give them that foundation.”

Representatives of the Greater Nevada Credit Union will lead the YES class on the fourth Friday of every month in both Fall and Spring semesters. Friday’s class covered the basics of banks, introduced students to checking accounts, demonstrated check-writing techniques and analyzed combating fraud. Next month’s class will cover income and expenses so that students can see how much they are spending and how much they will have remaining, according to Community Outreach Assistant Giovanis Montero.

“They will be able to identify income and expenses so that they can see everything on paper, because sometimes they don’t realize how much they’re spending. Another exercise will have them track everything they purchase in a week,” Montero said. “Sometimes you don’t really know how much you’re spending until it’s staring you in the face. So it’s a really great exercise and people have that ‘ah-ha’ moment.”

Montero and Electronic Marketing Specialist Kate Robinson said the “ah-ha moment” is one of the things they hope the class will be able to avoid once graduated.

“If that ‘ah-ha moment comes too late, then you’re already deep in debt,” Robinson said, “And if you get launched into the adult world without these preparations, and students are used to maintaining a certain lifestyle, and it seems easier to put things on credit or do payday lending, they have no idea about predatory lending, credit bureaus or how to build their reputations to credit lenders. They will have a hard time digging out of that for a while.”

In future classes, Montero and Robinson plan to teach students about credit, building a credit background and avoiding possible credit problems.

“Credit is especially important with this group,” Robinson said. “Most people, adult or otherwise, don’t know that if you make the minimum payment on your credit card you end up paying almost 100 percent interest and it takes you 11 years to pay off your X-Box.”

“It’s about being able to help them see that what they are doing now is going to have consequences down the road,” Montero said. “If we start them off on a good positive path they can take all of those good habits with them.”

The YES program students will be receiving valuable information heading into their Career Day in November. Wynn said Truckee Meadows Community College, the University of Nevada, Reno, Career College of Northern Nevada and local business professionals will all be in attendance to help aid students in finding a post-high-school option unique to them.

The YES program is currently in five schools as part of its partnership with the Washoe County School District. Other local schools include Dilworth Middle School and Sparks High School. Wynn said reaching the students at Dilworth has him most excited because of the early instruction they will be receiving.

“It is important to push them in understanding about getting ready for college and we’re trying to get them to start thinking correctly because life is starting a little faster nowadays. Everything is competitive,” Wynn said.
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