Talking Money with Teens – Ian!

The simplest thing we can do to keep spreading financial education is to encourage people to talk about money, and not only adults! Young people need to learn more about budgeting, investing, saving, and retirement too. You can never be too young to start learning about personal finance!

Lately when we’re looking for inspiration, we look to people in their teens and 20’s. Young people today are incredibly well informed, connected, and aware. They remind us that people start creating their own money stories while they’re still kids, and kids can learn that money is a tool everyone should have access to. Encouraging teens to talk to their peers about money will make a huge difference in spreading financial literacy.

Everyone meet Ian! He’s a 15 year old high school student living in Northern California, and he’s part of the team at Teen Financial Freedom. Ian’s focus on climate justice as well as financial education for Gen Z sets a great example for people of all ages, including us! We are incredibly inspired by Ian and the work he’s doing and we know you‘ll find something encouraging in his money story…

1. What have you learned about money so far? Have you learned useful money lessons from your family?

The true question is what haven’t I learned yet? My father played a key role in teaching me the basics of personal finance. The first time he taught me, I had $300 from my first communion and he showed me how to set up an excel spreadsheet to keep track of my interest.

I am not an expert or financial advisor, but me and my dad talk in the car or when working about the daily financial news, my investments, or how my businesses are doing. He helps me understand better what I’m hearing and provides me with direction.

2. How often do you talk with your family or friends about money?

It’s a daily agenda item for me and my father. We always talk finance in the car or at the table. At school, since founding the business club, finance has been a daily topic between me and club members. Our business teacher always engages us in asking about investments or our thoughts on the daily market news. Even some of my friends would come up to me and ask how they can save money, which always takes a while to explain.

3. What do you know about debt?

Debt is a blessing and a curse. When I hear debt, I think about credit cards. Credit cards are the world’s greatest weapon, and can lead to amazing rewards like free travel or they can lead to absolute financial ruin. Debt requires careful planning and a lot of responsibility.

4. Do you have a checking account? A savings account? Or an investment account?

I have 1 checking account, 2 savings, and an investment account. My checking account is for my daily business transactions and I have a savings account for my emergency fund & a separate one for long-term savings. I have a 529 account for my college savings.

5. Do any of the financial independence or FIRE concepts inspire you?

Most definitely, the idea of “retiring” one day keeps me motivated. My personal goal is a net worth of a million dollars by the time I’m 35. I do not want to retire young but manage a lifestyle where I go at my pace and can prioritize family and life experiences.

6. If you’ve already had your first paying job, what was that like?

I haven’t held an actual job yet. From running two businesses, I learned how difficult it can be to handle customer service, finances, management, and everything else as a solo person. Yet, I want to get a job soon to learn how being an employee feels vs being a self-employed business owner.

7. What types of future job or career ideas do you have in mind? Are you interested in owning your own business?

I am planning on entering the business world for a short time as I build out several businesses. I want to be able to chase my dreams and not be held back, so I’m still exploring paths.

8. If you’re planning to attend college, how would your college years be paid for?

In order to save on college, I want to attend the local university half an hour away from my home. First, in California, community college is free for the first two years. I want to attend my first two years at my local community college and finish by commuting via train to the university. And for university expenses, I want to use a work-study program and my 529 plan.

9. What kinds of activities do you love? What are the costs of your favorite activities?

I can’t survive without running and biking, and my parents have gifted me this opportunity by paying for a bike and running shoes. I also love being an advocate for environmental justice in my local region, which doesn’t cost me anything but provides me the feeling I am protecting our future.

10. Last question – what are you most excited about right now?

I am most excited about my business club. I recently founded the club with a good friend and we hope to provide financial education at our high school. I have very high hopes and cant wait for what the future has in store.

That’s it for now from Ian! We’re looking forward to your comments! And we have more interviews from this team of awesome teens on the way so stay tuned.

And please, take a minute to check out the blog and podcast from Teen Financial Freedom! Here’s a TFF podcast episode where you can hear from Ian. We are blatantly encouraging our personal finance community to follow this team of amazing young people and support their efforts. They’re all doing great things with their own self improvement and financial education, and spreading financial literacy to other teens. They are actively improving the world!

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