LocationAlhambra , CA
It was the perfect event for the times.
Socially distant, sanitary, mostly indoors and offered the safe learning environment students have become used to since local schools closed in March.
It was also, and perhaps most importantly, financially relevant as L.A. County was just entering another phase of the “new normal.”
AUSD students gathered around their computers and mobile devices on Saturday for “How Not To Be Broke #2: A Financial Literacy Workshop for Uncertain Times.”
The free webinar was sponsored by Alhambra Source, the Alhambra Unified School District, the Credit Union of Southern California, Alhambra Latino Association, American First National Bank and with an additional contribution from Isabel Carlos of the Rotary Club of Alhambra.
Over the next 90 minutes, the 45+ AUSD students learned about the sometimes complex topics of getting and maintaining credit, using checking and savings accounts wisely and some basics about money: how to get it, how to save it and how to spend it. Attendance this year surpassed last year’s inaugural workshop which was conducted in-person at Iona Work Spaces in Alhambra.
Engaging, real-time quizzes were conducted throughout the program using the game-based learning platform Kahoot!, which allowed students to answer questions with their peers by connecting with their smartphones. Six students came away from the event with Amazon gift cards for their high quiz scores and for asking good questions during the program.
One of the prize winners, Alyssa Lopez Ramirez, a senior at Mark Keppel High School, said the biggest takeaway she got from the workshop “is to always question my purchases. I learned how to be better prepared for the future, financially speaking.” Ramirez plans to go to UC Santa Barbara in the fall and major in communications.
AUSD Superintendent Denise R. Jaramillo, the featured speaker, welcomed the participants from the patio of her home with a blue, bright sky in the background.
“Today you made the decision to come here and invest in yourself and your futures,” she said congratulating them for making a smart choice.
She told a bit of her life story saying that she grew up in Monterey Park and attended schools in the Garvey district and said she was a proud graduate from Mark Keppel High School.
“I was not born into a family that sent me off to college so I’ve worked since I was 16 years old,” she said. But she did go off to college first to Cal State LA, then to Pepperdine for an advanced degree, and finally USC for more post-graduate work. She started in the Alhambra District as a teacher and is now in her fourth year as superintendent.
Jaramillo provided an interesting analogy on the subject of money.
“Money is not a driving force for me,” she said. “Money is a tool for me, a vehicle for me to accomplish my dreams. It is like my car in that it allows me to get where I need to go. Like a car, money is powerful when used correctly and problematic if not used correctly.”
And, then it was on to the webinar, which was led by Melissa Manning, the Vice President of Business and Talent Development of the Credit Union of Southern California.
“Your income does not define how successful you are but your choices do,” Manning said in her introduction.
She urged participants to set financial goals: Short term, mid-term and long-term and equate spending to the goals.
Question purchase wants vs. purchase needs to help meet those goals. “Wave instant gratification vs. ultimate gratification,” so you can meet your goals.
Visualize your dream and learn how to save:
She recalled being 38 and wanting to celebrate her 40th birthday with a trip to Paris. This is how she made it happen:
“I put a picture of the Eiffel Tower in my bathroom and that helped me focus on my dream. I took lunch to work every day for nearly two years to save money.”
And she made it to Paris for her big birthday.
She advised everyone to save and urged that everyone work to have 2-3 months of expenses put always for an emergency, like the pandemic that you — and the rest of the world — didn’t see coming.
She talked about identity theft and cautioned everyone to pay frequent attention to bank statements and credit card bills. And never, she said, put your credit card pin number on the card itself. Losing a credit or debit card with a pin number on it means you’ve just given someone full access to plunder your account.
After the webinar students were enthusiastic about what they learned.
“One take away is weighing needs versus wants,” said Joseph Hsieh, a junior at Mark Keppel High School. “Often time we impulse buy and spend money without thinking about the future. Learning to track spending is another great habit to keep.”
The webinar ended with a Q&A session where students asked Manning questions about credit card APR, differences between joint and independent checking accounts, and activities that may hurt a credit score.
Want to see a recording of the event? Sign up here for a free link to a recording of “How Not To Be Broke #2: A Financial Literacy Workshop for Uncertain Times.”