Think B.I.G.

When I started preparing to present Think B.I.G. to the high school interns my biggest challenge was finding a way to make it interesting and relevant to them at this point in their lives. Learning how to budget, save, and set financial goals is not the most exciting topic to a 17 year old, but it is an important topic that needs to be discussed.

I started by meeting with the interns individually to discuss the program, how it works and what my goal is. We went through a short PowerPoint presentation about the program and I followed up with four worksheets:

  1. A questionnaire about their current financial knowledge and responsibilities. This was to assess what they already knew about financial literacy, if they had any monthly expenses they were currently responsible for, and if they have already had discussions with their parents about budgeting, saving and setting goals. 
  2. A paycheck budget worksheet for them to use to document their income and expenses.  This was to get them to see how they are spending their money and show them how to plan for expenses.
  3. A blank sheet of paper for them to write down three questions they wanted to ask their parent(s) or guardian(s) about budgeting, saving and setting goals. This was to get the dialogue started between the interns and their parent(s).
  4. A worksheet for them to set a SMART goal – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely - with the assistance of their parents. This activity will help hold them accountable for the goal they’ve set.

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback that was received about the program and how engaged the interns were. They were excited to plan their budgets and speak with their parents about how they learned about budgeting and saving. It was also interesting to see the different perspectives of the interns and how their experiences were all so different when it came to this topic. One of the interns had fixed monthly financial obligations, one didn’t have the same fixed obligations but wanted to help their parents and siblings financially, and another one of the interns didn’t have much financial responsibility. 

The interns had a week to meet with their parents, discuss the program and complete the worksheets. We then had a follow up meeting to discuss how the meetings with their parents went and the commonality was how open their parents were when the interns asked them questions about how they learned about budgeting, saving and setting goals. Two of the interns were surprised by how much information their parents disclosed to them about their financial struggles and setbacks. It gave the interns a better understanding of why their parents were in the financial position they are currently in and how they got to this point.

In our follow up meeting we also went over the budget sheets and their goals. Using the budget sheet was eye opening to the interns. It made them more aware of their spending and helped them learn to plan for future expenses. We also reviewed the goal they set to make sure it was a S.M.A.R.T. Goal.

The interns were excited to start working towards their goals and planned what they were going to do to meet the goal. I was pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm from them and the feedback from the interactions with their parents. It helped the interns and their parents recognize the need to have the conversation, and created a deeper bond by sharing their experiences. The interns can use what they’ve learned from their parents to make better financial choices.

I will follow up with the interns on monthly basis to ensure they are on track to meeting their goals. I look forward to seeing and sharing their progress.

Caire Chambers