Local teens learning financial literacy

HARLINGEN — “What’s investing?” asked Michael Garza to an auditorium full of seniors.

“Make coin!” answered one student at the Harlingen Performing Arts Center yesterday.

“Put money in something, yo!” answered another.

Garza, a senior at Harlingen School of Health Professions, laughed good naturedly with the responses. Then he and his fellow seniors gave their presentation about financial literacy.

Teams of students from all four high schools spoke to more than 600 seniors from throughout the district yesterday morning. It was the 2nd Annual U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela Financial Education Summit. The same summit has been held for seven years in Brownsville.

The event was organized by Brownsville’s Bertha Garza, first vice president of IBC.

“It’s about financial education, how to take care of their money, how to use their credit, how to set financial goals for their future,” Garza said.

The presenters had really done their homework on finance.

“Ever since I was young, my parents tried to teach me the importance of investing in the stock market,” said Michael Machner, 18, a senior at Early College High School.

His fellow presenter, Juan Nunez, had a very different story with the same conclusion.

“I didn’t grow up knowing what investment was,” said Juan, 17, adding his family had limited economic resources. However, that changed when his mother found a good job with better pay.

“That was about three years ago and she taught me about money,” he said.

Too often, he said, people are too eager to spend money as soon as they get it.

“People don’t know how to save money,” he said. “I think saving money is very important for everybody. I think learning about investments is very important.”

Michael Garza’s team, “The Investors,” spoke on the specifics of investing.

“How do you invest?” he asked the seniors before revealing an in-depth presentation with well-developed visuals.

“You can give money to causes, and every year you get a certain amount of money back,” he said. “You can invest in a home, that’s real estate.”

His team then engaged the students on five topics related to investing — Banking, Certificates of Deposit, Stocks, Mutual Funds and Exchange-Trade Funds.

The message seemed to have reached the students.

“I learned more about how to manage my money so I don’t make any mistakes that would be detrimental to my future,” said Nathaniel Carney, 18, a senior at Harlingen High School South.

Fellow Harlingen South senior James Dunkin also learned a great deal.

“If you go risk, you have high risk and high rewards in the investment game,” said James, 18.

Are teens saving money?

By the Numbers

Teens say they are …

Saving — 38 percent

Saving more than last year — 22 percent

Not saving — 23 percent

Saving for clothes — 57 percent

Saving for college — 51 percent

Saving for a car — 36 percent

Source: www.statisticbrain.com, September 2017