Empowering high school students through financial education: A volunteer’s perspective

SecureFutures Volunteer Dave Rasmussen

Pulling a stack of $20 bills out of his pocket, Money Coach Dave Rasmussen places each one on a table in front of the class until he reaches $100. And then he walks away. He’s not showing off, he’s teaching a lesson. Money Coach students earn money for completing assignments and Dave makes it crystal clear that not doing their assignments is the same as “leaving money on the table”.

Financially self-taught, Dave did not have it easy early on in his career, something he shares with the students. “I dropped out of college, went into construction, got laid off, collected unemployment, moved out West, slept in my truck.” Dave eventually did set himself on a straight path, but it took seeking out individuals whom he calls “smarter than him”, reading books on finance, and educating himself.

His answer to the question of how he learned about money management and personal finance was three words, “The hard way.” Dave didn’t learn anything about financial education in high school and barely even in college. “It was a taboo subject growing up. When Mom and Dad wanted to talk about money, they went behind closed doors. Suddenly I was 30 years old, and I hadn’t saved a dime.” Talking about money at home remains a taboo subject as can be seen in a 2022 survey conducted by T. Rowe Price which reports that 57% of parents surveyed were reluctant to discuss finances with their kids. That’s why delivering the Money Coach program to teens at an age when they are susceptible to mistakes involving credit, predatory practices, and putting wants over needs, is so crucial.

Dave is a longtime supporter of SecureFutures through generous donations, but it was retirement that marked the perfect time for him to take the plunge into volunteering. A big inspiration in Dave’s life was his father, who volunteered for various organizations himself. “My dad would tell me stories about the people he was serving, and I would say, ‘Dad, that’s awesome, that’s beautiful. I’m going to do that someday. I feel like I’m living up to a legacy that my dad established and demonstrated for me.”

Dave says for those who are interested in volunteering but feeling a bit nervous not to fret for two reasons: The curriculum and the training provided. “You don’t need to have a financial background to be a Money Coach. I don’t! Friends and relatives will say to me, ‘I know you’re a smart guy, but how do you even know what to teach?’ And I’ll tell them, the curriculum and the resources are so solid I can just plug and play.”

Spring Money Coach opportunities are available on our website for both Milwaukee and Racine. Without the help of volunteers, we can’t steer students down a better path than Dave took as a young adult. We need you in the classroom!

“I can’t describe the fulfilling feeling that you get when you volunteer for this program. All of us are just caretakers on this big rock and we’re handing it off to the next generation. I’ll be delivering these classes from a wheelchair if I have to because we can never stop trying to educate the youth about money management.”

Thank you to Dave and all our amazing volunteers for the work that you do bringing financial capability to teens in our community. For questions regarding the Money Coach program contact Maria Fuller, Volunteer Manager, at maria@securefutures.org.

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