Teens can be all stars with their money, said Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless. It just takes smart habits with saving and spending.

Bayless joined more than 120 participants, volunteers and alumni for the Make A Difference – Wisconsin “Saving Bucks with the Bucks” financial literacy event Wednesday at Messmer High School in Milwaukee.

Bayless has made financial literacy one of the three pillars of his foundation, along with promoting computer literacy, reading and writing.

On the stage Wednesday, Bayless engaged the Money Coach “all stars” in a Q&A that centered on good money management. Bayless, a shooting guard for the Bucks in his seventh year as a pro, said his foundation in finance came from his parents. From there, he remembers taking the initiative to earn money and save. As a teen, Bayless said he realized he could make some extra money selling chips and snacks to his fellow students, who didn’t have a vending machine in their school. At first, the success of his sales shocked his mom, Bayless joked.

“My mom comes home and sees all the cash and snacks on my bed and she was like, ‘What!?’,” Bayless said, getting laughs from the crowd.

From other questions, Bayless emphasized the importance of tracking money early on and pushed teens to start a savings account at a bank rather than going to a check cashing store. Bayless noted that there are many more uplifting stories on professional athletes and money than those which sometimes grab headlines. However, he urged students in the crowd to continue their education as he has to be able to live independently.

Make A Difference – Wisconsin financial literacy participants also shared their stories in the Wednesday event. Darrin, a Money Coach grad from last year and current freshman at Howard University, noted the importance he’s found in establishing a budget. Darrin, 18, later asked Bayless, 27, what advice he’d give to himself if he could go back in time.

“Save. That’s the biggest thing,” Bayless said.

Taleavia, a Money Coach student through PEARLS for Teen Girls and a senior at Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, took the stage and shared the lessons she’s learned about defining what you spend money on. Bayless later referenced her breakdown of spending as something similar to how he does his own budgeting of his NBA salary.

“It’s knowing your wants versus your needs,” Bayless said. “I have one car. I’m comfortable. I don’t need all those other things.”

For video and photo highlights from the event, check out the Milwaukee Bucks website.

-by Justin Kern, Marketing and Communications Manager, Make A Difference – Wisconsin

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