Education

Students learn financial skills from accountants

Kraftchick explains need for financial literacy for students

Jonathan Kraftchick of the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants discusses the need to explain financial literacy skills to middle and high school students.
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Jonathan Kraftchick of the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants discusses the need to explain financial literacy skills to middle and high school students.

While many middle school students are still thinking about what their first summer job will be, the state’s certified public accountants want kids to begin thinking about their financial futures.

The message stressed at Saturday’s Making Cents: A Financial Literacy Program at Marbles Kids Museum is that good financial habits picked up when you’re young will carry on throughout life. Learning skills now such as living within a budget, saving money and minimizing borrowing are habits that will help in college and adulthood, the students were told.

“It’s almost to the point where you don’t have an excuse in this country to not be rich anymore,” Jonathan Kraftchick, a volunteer with the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants, told the students. “If you make smart decisions, if you start getting the education today and start taking some action now, your path is so much easier than your friends who decided not to come.

“Start saving often, start saving early. Let’s get rich together.”

The N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants started the Making Cents program in 2009 to teach financial literacy to students in grades seven through 12. Association members visit schools during the year, but on Saturday about 50 students came to the four-hour program at Marbles. In a different room, the parents and teachers of those students also got training on financial literacy.

The children are part of N.C. State’s TRIO program, which helps prepare students in eight middle schools and high schools in eastern Wake, Smithfield and Selma to go to college.

Kraftchick, the keynote speaker, said a 16-year-old who saves $2,400 annually for eight straight years would, after investing the money, have $430,000 at age 60. By contrast, a 32-year-old who begins saving $3,000 a year for 28 years would, after investing it, only have $308,000 at age 60.

“I know you’re tempted to think I’ve got years and years in front of me, and you do,” Kraftchick said. “I hope that all of you have very long lives in front of you, but the decisions you’re making now can talk about the quality, financially at least, of those years.”

Kraftchick stressed the value of minimizing debt as the students face the costs of paying for college, a home and a car, getting married, raising children and taking care of aging parents.

Kraftchick, who was named the Triangle’s funniest accountant in 2014, told the kids they should go home and thank their parents for the average $230,000 it costs to raise a single child, not including college.

“Your parents could be millionaires, but they’re not because of you,” Kraftchick joked to the laughter of the students. “It’s your fault, so next time you want some new Nikes, you just think twice before you start complaining.”

‘Life is unpredictable’

To help make it real, the kids played a game in which they had to make a budget based on the amount of money they make at summer jobs such as being a lifeguard, a barista, a waiter or a store clerk. They had to make decisions such as whether to use public transit or buy a car, shop for designer clothing and eat out daily and go to concerts and movies on the weekend.

After seeing whether they still had any money left over, they had to confront “life events” such as a phone dropped in a pool or needing new tires on a car.

“Life is unpredictable,” said Jeremiah Thayer, one of the N.C. State accounting graduate students who volunteered at the event. “Sometimes you can’t control what will happen to us.”

Some students still had money left, but many did not.

Bryan Chavez, 12, a seventh-grader at Wendell Middle School, said he still had a lot of money left because he didn’t spend it on the higher-priced choices.

“I learned how to save money and how to prepare myself for the future so I don’t have any debt so I can have a nice future so I can live well,” he said.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

Learn more

Go to ncacpa.org/financial-literacy/making-cents/ for more information on the Making Cents financial literacy program.

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