Dan T. – Oxford Academy

“Smart cents, smart sense!” is the mantra we proudly roared in our club rush for our financial literacy club, Penny Wise Club. Most students passing by smiled in fascination towards our club’s tri-fold. Many probably do not understand financial literacy as being one of the most essential components to better their lives.

Spreading financial literacy awareness has always been my mission ever since my family went through a financial crisis. Our family income dropped dramatically. Fortunately, my parents were prepared. Our lifestyles dramatically changed. Instead of indulging ourselves in stores like Hollister or Victoria’s Secret, Goodwill became the go-to store for many things. More glory was found in finding an odorless and brand-new pair of socks, rather than having to buy it new elsewhere. My family’s taste buds are heavily tempered by my homemade Starbucks as we reluctant spending on the real Starbucks. I began to truly value the money I have. I regretted that $3 flower I bought at impulse for my first tween crush. It would have been a nice dress at Goodwill for her.

Financial responsibility is being able to value your money and understanding
exactly where it goes towards. Many young people are unappreciative of the money they have in their pockets. Spending five dollars every day at Starbucks with no second thoughts is as easy as throw away a piece of used tissue. They don’t realize how quickly that can add up in one year. They appreciate even less if the money comes from somewhere else, like their parents’ The first step to financial responsibility is to appreciate the value of money as a precious resource, knowing exactly where it comes from and where it goes toward. One has to differentiate the wants and the needs to spend wisely. The second step is to smartly manage the money flow, in and out. So that by the end of the day, the net positive of the budget will save you for the rainy days. Since I still have to depend on my parents, my understanding of financial responsibility is a way to appreciate their hard-work. Whenever I am about to spend on something, I consider how long they work to earn that much.

The third step is to plan for the long-term financial future. My dad was laid off unexpectedly. If it wasn’t for what his emergency savings, I would not know where our family would be.

This is where saving and investment comes in. In order to save better, it is essential to be able to understand the flow of money through budgeting. Our Penny Wise Club shares with the students about one saving technique, where you can take at least 10% of your income/allowance and forget you ever have it. Better yet, that 10% can be invested to gain more. Let the money you save work for you. And soon, you can find financial freedom. The joy of telling your ex-boss: “Sorry, but no. It is not worth it to take your …. !”. Having a great sense of financial responsibility will set one’s life up for brighter future. It gives one the motivation to seek for better for themselves and for their family. Although money is not everything in life, it is better to cry in a comfortable setting than to cry under a bridge!
There are budgeting tool students can use to manage their money once they gain the appreciation for money. Clear financial picture emerges when they use those tools. It will give them better and finer control, more awareness of one’s financial being, increased self-esteemed, and make them better savers. In the age of the Internet, many free budgeting tools are waiting to be used. I hope that students are able to incorporate, “smart cents, smart sense” into their everyday lives to be ready for a happy future!