In Chris Zeller’s finite math class at GPS, seniors heard from guest speaker Laura Coleman, certified workplace money coach with Common Cents Financial Literacy. Mrs. Coleman, who is also an accredited financial counselor, spoke about how teens can: set financial goals and learn to budget, understand how current events/economics can affect their finances, consider student loans and debt/credit options, establish career connections, and avoid common financial pitfalls.
Through four classroom visits to each finite math section, Mrs. Coleman required the girls to work in groups to analyze various financial scenarios. These problem-solving teams allowed the girls to work through various case studies and associate real-world applications that brought forth an additional perspective to some of their present classroom investigations in finite.
“Mrs. Coleman, who has more than 17 years of counseling experience in the world of finance, was able to speak directly to the girls about life skills needed to become financially responsible adults,” Mr. Zeller said. “She presented to them budgeting issues they might encounter as they take steps to establish credit, while helping them consider how to navigate their own future personal financial obstacles and how to be proactive users of money and credit as well as debt.”
Assignments included keeping a detailed record of spending habits, and candid talk revealed that even a $5 per day Starbucks habit can add up to $1,800 per year.
Mr. Zeller added that Mrs. Coleman’s insight provided a fitting capstone to the personal finance units the girls were working on, including an in-depth personal budget project the students had to develop based on their aspirations and goals regarding their future employment as university graduates.
Mrs. Coleman filled her presentations with real-world examples, and gave the girls advice regarding internships. She paired students to role play how to negotiate a salary during an interview, and the girls researched desired careers and formed budgets based on the salary associated with the position. They considered the cost of living in their dream city as it applied to housing and other expenses.
Mrs. Coleman and Mr. Zeller spoke candidly to the classes about debt—how to avoid it, how it affects credit ratings—and best money management practices, including budgeting for emergencies and investing for the future, both long- and short-term. “If you learn good financial practices now, when you’re 40, you won’t have made the same mistakes that others have,” Mrs. Coleman says. “Good habits now equates to being kind to your future self.”