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Money Smart. Money Information, Money Education

Help us help young people

Four people make a workshop!

Start Money Smart Workshop

Photo by Bobbie Bush

  • How to maintain a checking account?
  • How do credit cards work?
  • What will come out of their paychecks?
  • How to stay organized so bills get paid?

Workshop Pricing

Funding may be available through grants received through Fiscal Sponsorship.

Teenagers & Young Adults
Number of attendees Price per attendee per class
4 - 9 $35
10 - 19 $30
20 - 29 $25
Over 30 $25

Workshops can include classes in succession or over several days.

What's been going on...

Building Educated Leaders for Life - BELL

BELL is a wonderful organization on a mission to "dramatically increase the academic achievements, self-esteem and life opportunities of children living in low-income, urban communities." Jameel spent six weeks working for BELL during their summer program at Mattahunt School in Mattapan. For one hour, four days a week she taught rising 5th, 6th and 7th graders everything about maintaining a checking account, paychecks, taxes, paying bills, and credit cards. It was a wonderful program and very well received. For more information about BELL and its programs check out www.BELLNational.org.

"My Money Life" Class at the Cambridge Women's Center

Start Money Smart has been asked to host a monthly series at the Cambridge Women's Center on Financial Literacy. On the first Monday of every month since June, workshops have been given in the evening at the Center on topics like checking accounts, credit cards, paying bills and managing a budget as well as savings and investing. In October, weekly Financial Self-Help sessions will begin where women can come in with specific issues that we can discuss and work through. The Center has been very excited and supportive of this program and we're enjoying the opportunity to help the women of Cambridge. For more information on the center and its programs, go to www.CambridgeWomensCenter.org.

Crittenton Women's Union makes a Fresh Start!

For the third series, Jameel Webb-Davis spoke to women participating in the Woman to Woman program through the Crittenton Women's Union. The financial literacy portion of this program is called "Fresh Start" and provides low-income women the skills and information to make a fresh start in their financial lives

This is a wonderful program and the interaction and feedback received from the women during this seven-week series has been inspiring. These women are smart, powerful, impassioned people who have a great desire for knowledge and opportunity. I'm so fortunate to be able to work with them to better their lives. For more information on the Union and their programs go to www.LiveWorkThrive.org.

What's coming up...

Mothers, Daughters and Money

Start Money Smart has been asked to present its Money Myths & More workshop at the 3rd Annual Mothers, Daughters & Money Conference sponsored by the United Way on September 13th at Simmons College. Jameel will be speaking to youth along with MoneyU and representatives from Citigroup. The conference offers workshops for adults as well, sponsored by YWCA, the Federal Reserve Bank and others. Click here for more information on this program.

Jump$tart has come to Massachusetts!

Although the Jump$start Coalition has been in existence at a national level for some time, a Massachusetts chapter has just been developed. Start Money Smart attended the first meeting in mid-June and is very excited about getting involved with this organization at a deeper level as they are currently looking for board members.

The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of kindergarten through college-age youth by providing advocacy, research, standards and educational resources.

For more information about joining or supporting the coalition click here.

Watch us on
Mom Matters Web TV
Right now!!

On Mom-Matters webtv experts are interviewed on a variety of topics in 10 easy-to-watch, anytime minutes. On July 28th Start Money Smart's interview was aired in a webisode called "The Birds and Bees and why Money doesn't grow on Trees. Teaching kids about Personal Finance." Click here to view the show!

Mom Matters addresses important and practical parenting issues that are often left out of typical parenting magazines and network TV shows. With intellect and humor, Mom Matters entertains while it educates moms on how to be more productive and satisfied parents.

When I grow up my bills won't be so high.

After teaching 10 - 12 year old scholars through the BELL program, I gained some pretty good insight into misconceptions kids have about money.

For six weeks I had the kids manage a checking account. They received "paychecks" every other week, they had to"spend" money every day on grocery shopping, supplies, and other incidentals, and they received utility bills that were due periodically throughout the program.

The kids loved managing the paperwork and doing the math to keep their check registers updated. Their "shopping" cards would say things like "You dropped your cell phone in the toilet. Pay $85 for a new one," or "Buy a gift for Mother's Day. Pay $50."

The biggest complaint heard was that the kids didn't want to spend their money! After receiving their $500 paycheck ($391 after taxes), they felt that it was unrealistic that they should have to spend so much of the money. They made comments like, "In real life people don't shop and spend money every day." Other kids couldn't believe the amounts of the bills were realistic. "I won't spend $87 every month on an electric bill. I'll use less than that." And ultimately, many kids thought they would make much more than the amount I was giving them, saying things like, "When I graduate I'll make $80,000 a year, so I won't have to worry about bills."

The reality is that we are not sharing with our kids the actuality of what it costs to live when they get older. Some of us teach our kids to save and possibly how to shop for bargains, but many kids don't understand what goes into the day to day life of living on a realistic salary.

It really comes down to teaching our kids the value of money. The only way they are really going to understand this topic is to show them what we spend on a daily basis to live. Let your kids see what's in the checking account. Help them understand what you as parents bring home as a salary and how it is spent to run the household.

Many parents are not comfortable exposing their personal financial details to their teenagers, but I believe the information is invaluable. How else will kids understand how much money actually comes into a home and how much is spent for it to run? Yes, you can tell them that $1,000 is not really a lot of money to live on, but until they actually try to pay some bills with it, they really won't know. Usually teens are only aware of the money needed to provide for their needs, like a car and cell phones.

However, opening up your financial world to your teens could pose other problems as well - forcing you, as a parent, to take a clear look at your own financial situation. Many parents don't have a clear picture themselves at what's going on with their money. Why would they want to show their 16-year-old son details on how they spend money if they don't want to go through the math themselves? Especially when money is tight.

We have to start changing our attitudes about having money, the daily managing of it, and communicating information about it to our family. It's a huge obstacle to overcome in allowing our economy to heal during these difficult times.

Start Money Smart offers workshops for adults, parents, and teenagers that address these and other topics regarding financial literacy. Check out our website for more information.

Non-Profit Organization status update...

Jameel held a meeting in late-June inviting several people that would make good candidates for board members. She presented detailed information regarding what she's done with Start Money Smart so far and what challenges lay ahead. The feedback received was excellent and she looks forward to developing a Board of Directors that is as excited about increasing financial awareness in our communities as we are.

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