Students speak: Money Coach teens share ‘healthy habits’ they’ll take into adulthood

FacebookLinkedInTwitterMoney Coach students recently shared stories of financial freedom with a select group of local business leaders in a program we call “Your Two Cents.” Students in the Money Coach financial mentoring program also had the chance to participate in “flash mentoring” discussions with those business leaders, including executives from MGIC, the Milwaukee Bucks, Baird, Associated Bank, Godfrey & Kahn, PwC, Core Creative and more.

Below are snippets of quotes shared by the students during the event, which touch on the impact personal finance lessons and mentors can have on teens in our community. To find out more about the Money Coach program or these “Your Two Cents” events, contact Brenda Campbell, President and CEO, Make A Difference – Wisconsin at

Gur, a senior at Hmong American Peace Academy, said the program has shifted how she thinks about spending, especially with frivolous purchases. (Gur is pictured at left next to classmate Nina. Guest mentors seated across the table are, from the top, Michael Schuman, Mike Kelly and Andrea Cataldo.)

“Before Money Coach, when I saw something I liked, I’d buy it. Now, I’ve started to adapt to the Money Coach teaching and budgets. I ask, ‘Do I really need this?’ or I think, ‘If I buy this, it’s going to cost three hours of my working time.’ I’m a dietary aide and … those jobs are hard. When I come home, I’m tired. So I think, ‘Will this thing I’m going to buy improve my life?’ Money Coach emphasizes that idea that I need to look at everything that I buy to make sure I can get what I need.”

Antonio, a senior at New Horizons, a charter school in Shorewood, explained how the program contributed to “health habits” with money. In turn, he takes those budgeting and saving lessons to chip in at home.

“After Money Coach, I plan to continue to budget. That was a really difficult thing for me. It helps to have a coach sit down and have me work on a monthly budget. And from that I broke it down to a weekly budget and then a daily budget. It was a tedious thing! I didn’t necessarily want to do it but prior to budgeting, I didn’t really know the value of the money I have or what I’m spending. Over time with Money Coach, I was able to see that the amount I was able to save … was increasing. It was a good thing, a healthy habit that I’ll take with me.”

Payton, 16, participates in the program through Urban Underground and has aspirations of becoming an actress. Payton’s Money Coach instilled in her a long-term view of finances.

“It came down to knowing what I need compared with what I want. I have a very long ‘want list’. Especially my Money Coach Kevin

[Tarkington], he had me write down those things – like clothes, do I need it or is it just cute and in style? – and I feel like from this point on in my life, I can think of things in terms of what I want and what is really a necessity for me.”

Nina is a senior at Hmong American Peace Academy, where she participates in Money Coach with “one of the best Money Coaches I could think of.”

“His name is Joe [Veche]. He is there for me. He’ll text me and ask if I’m buying things [not in my budget] … and to make sure I’m saving. One thing I really learned from him is that when you’re in college, no one is going to be there to make sure you don’t overspend. But you can ask for help.”

Ryan, who participated through the Teens Grow Greens program last year, shared an anecdote from when he was 12 and an eye doctor gave him a penny after an exam, and offered him the advice to start saving at an early age. (Ryan is pictured at right with Bucks leadership Pat McDonough, Alicia Dupies and Steve Brandes.)

“I kind of blew that life lesson off. But Money Coach put the focus back on saving for me. By then, I was in the predicament of being someone with a low income and having to pay bills support yourself and your family. It gave me first-hand experience on how to save and set myself up financially. And you’d be really proud of my savings account right now.”

Go to Top