Chicago Money Sense Lessons: How a Ferris Wheel Ride Can Teach Wants Versus Needs

FacebookLinkedInTwitterNick, a high school junior, was brave enough to share his Valentine’s Day date budget breakdown with his peers at Noble Street College Prep. The Chicago teenager said, financially, the date was going well … until their $15-a-piece ride at Navy Pier left him out of spending cash for the rest of the evening.

“I just wanted to go on the Ferris wheel. C’mon we were on a date!,” Nick said, to laughs from his classmates.

For Money Sense volunteers Tyler Neenan and Alex Schmiesing (at left, respectively, with Nick speaking from his desk), this was a teachable moment. Financial education is more than just outlining the importance of savings and budgets. It’s about putting good behaviors into practice – and maybe planning a little bit better.

“It’s all about choices. Nick here was doing well but he could have planned better between his wants and his needs,” Schmiesing explained.

Three simultaneous Money Sense sessions took place over a few weeks recently at Noble Street College Prep. The high school is part of the lauded Noble Charter School Network and stands as one of our first major partners in bringing personal finance lessons and volunteers beyond Wisconsin and into Chicago classrooms. Following initial lessons in spring 2016, Noble administrators and educators welcomed our volunteers back into classes for dozens of juniors in their advisory period during a recent February afternoon.

In another session, led by volunteer Jon Adams (pictured at right), students with their first part-time jobs compared the differences in pay and helped explain the deductions from paychecks to other students not yet working. Later, during a budget exercise among Adriana Villegas’ students, the reality of daily snack spending habits began to add up for Deja, a junior.

“I swore I did not spend that much money on food yesterday,” she said.

In a different classroom down the hall, a pocket of students entered Eric Arvold’s Money Sense lesson already chatting about scholarships, grants and loans for college.

Arvold, a longtime volunteer who lives in Wisconsin but works in Chicago, gave his class a Benjamin Franklin tongue twister to chew on as they finished up a lesson on banking and budgets. Students Lydia and Carmena (pictured at left) repeated it to each other: “Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money”

For more information on bringing lessons into your school or volunteering to teach teens, contact: Pat Rorabeck, Program Director, or (414) 273-8101.

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