Leilani H. – Schurr High School

Martin Luther King Jr. asked a question when writing a letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail… “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?” Thermostats regulate and increase efficiency by keeping temperatures level and steady whereas, thermometers measure and reflect climate change. The analogy here is financial planning is like using a thermostat to equalize finance overtime and not wanting to be a thermometer which just reflects your financials.

In society’s economy being successful to the average 14 year old is having the latest trends, and gadgets. However, success for me now is trying to achieve a 4.0 and apply for all the scholarships I can receive. Prosperity for me at the age of 18 is attending John Hopkins University, majoring in Pre-Med. At age of 30 supporting a family, purchasing my first home and finally thinking of retirement. With all these goals in mind, I must start planning for my future now and know about my financials. Living in a world where being in debt is common, will be something I will change for my generation.

Learning about money from a young age is very crucial for a child’s success in the world. Attending the financial workshop by NuVision Federal Credit Union, I learned how to use money wisely, the basics of investing, saving, also how to manage credit and debt responsibly. Being educated about money will help me make smart choices and help me avoid unnecessary debt and financial problems in the future. However, investing money safely and wisely are critical skills for people of all ages and backgrounds. Armed with knowledge of how investments work, I can make informed decisions and determine the best investment choices available to me. Another significant factor in my financial life is my credit score. A credit score is a statistic that depicts a person’s credit worthiness. The higher my score, the more financially trustworthy I’m considered to be. There are many benefits of having a good credit score such as: I get lower interest rates, better job opportunities, and better rates on car insurance. When buying my first home, my credit score determines if I will get a mortgage loan to purchase my home and at what interest rate. It is very important for me to understand about my credit score so I can make sure I can achieve all my financial goals in my future without being worried about money.

Nevertheless life is life the unexpected is unpreventable. The very first thing I need to do, after budgeting and meeting basic financial needs, is to start building an emergency fund. An emergency fund is an account used to set aside a stash of easily accessible money that is used for emergencies such as a personal financial dilemma, the loss of a job, a debilitating illness or a major expense. With having an emergency fund I will put a certain percentage of money away if an unexpected event arises. Each month I put money away is teaching me how to save and prioritize where my money goes.

Last but not least it is an essential to start saving and investing as early as possible for my retirement. On a PowerPoint slide at the financial workshop it stated,” I would need about 2.5 million dollars to retire comfortably.” Being in high school you rarely think of saving for retirement. The thought of needing 2.5 million to retire, left me in shock! It also had me pondering about my financial future. A tip I learned from the workshop is instead of paying for my daily dose of wants, I can save the money for my future. Eventually my money will grow each day I save. It will grow even faster when I keep it in a bank account that earns interest. The sooner I begin to save, the easier it will be to reach my financial goals. My financial goal is to be financially set for college and my retirement. All things considered, I choose to operate in thermostat mode. I am clear with the temperature I am trying to set, in order to meet my financial goals in high school, college and beyond. We all experience leadership lessons every day without always knowing it. Perhaps the next time I see a thermometer or a thermostat, I will think differently about the financial environment and the temperature I am trying to set.