Recently, I hosted a free seminar about money issues and personal finance for teens. I tried to think of a way to convey the message without boring them to death. So, I offered gift cards for participation! I created a game called Needs vs Wants to teach the children how to determine if they actually “Needed” something or just “Wanted” it. The kids ages ranged from 10-18. In the Needs vs Wants game, the kids were presented with a series of images on a screen and were instructed to hold up the corresponding Need or Want paddle: Green = Need and Red = Want (catch the subliminal messaging, lol). Anyway, if a child determined that something was a Need they were asked to explain why they felt that it was a Need. This became really interesting when I flashed a cell phone on the screen! ALL of the kids said that cell phones were a Need. They actually seemed to be quite angry with me for suggesting that they didn’t actually “Need” a cell phone. One child explained – “well, what if I missed the bus after school or were stranded somewhere? I mean you have to be able to call your parents – it’s just not safe!” I giggled and explained that in each of the cases mentioned that the child could go into the school and use the landline phone to call a parent or a payphone (if one was around). Of course, I know that pay phones no longer exist like when I was a child, but I just wanted to explain to them what pay phones were. They all laughed and thought it silly to pay 25 cents to place a call on a dirty old phone. Boy, did I realize my age that day! In the end, I was able to get the kids to understand that they would not die if they no longer had access to their brand new shiny Iphones.
We also played the Budget Game. The kids were asked to get into groups. They were handed a specific amount of money that represented their monthly earnings (with monopoly money of course). The kids were then presented with monthly expenses. They were asked to figure out how to pay their monthly expenses as if they were roommates. I allowed the kids to work everything out within 15 minutes. In the budget, they would be able to comfortably pay all of their bills and have $200 left over.
Earlier in the seminar, I taught the kids that the first bill that you must pay each month is to yourself. I taught them about the importance of saving and the 80/20 rule. Or in my case, if you can afford to save more than 20% of your income just do it! Once the kids all figured out that they could pay their bills and have money left over I flashed a bill on the screen. Bam – your car needs a new alternator and it will cost $250. I asked the kids how they could pay for this unexpected expense. My, my, my the answers were hilarious! Some of the kids said that they wouldn’t get the car fixed they would ride the bus to work and school. Some of kids said that they would just ask their parents to pay the bill. When I said that neither of those options were available and asked how would they manage the kids seemed puzzled. Their parents were in another area watching and laughing. One parent actually yelled out this is what we go through every month!!!
After about tens minutes, one teen came up to the microphone and said the following – “I would not pay for my cell phone or cable tv because I don’t really need those things. This will allow me to pay the car expense while still managing to pay myself first!” Saving was not listed as one of the children’s monthly expenses. I literally cried and gave the child the grand prize which was a $100 gift card!! Some adults don’t even understand the difference between Wants and Needs or the importance of paying themselves first by saving! I had hoped that the kids would remember to SAVE in the Budget Game. Most didn’t but one did and I rewarded him accordingly!
This was the first time that I held a Crawl Before You Ball Seminar for kids. I felt that it really went well. I received a lot of good feedback from the kids and their parents. Several people have requested that I host another seminar for kids, teens, and college students in the future.