Personal Finance Lessons Empower Tomorrow’s Leaders

Seventh grade students across CPS heard from volunteers, like those pictured from Huntington Bank, including Steve Mullinger (center) about various skills to build their financial literacy knowledge.

Years of banking experience have shown Steve Mullinger that talking about money is taboo for many people. That’s unfortunate, because it can mean lost opportunities to improve financial health.

It’s one reason he welcomed the opportunity to speak to seventh graders at Western Hills High School March 5 as part of the ninth annual Unite for Teen Financial Literacy event, a joint project of United Way of Greater Cincinnati and Junior Achievement.

“In terms of financial education, the big goal from our perspective is reaching these kids early to say that it’s OK to talk about your money,” says Mullinger, Regional President for The Huntington National Bank. “And as a bank, we can help you with your money and with whatever you want to do in the future.”

Mullinger was among 240 volunteers—including 34 Huntington Bank employees—who spoke to 1,906 Cincinnati Public Schools seventh graders throughout the city. Topics included budgets, credit scores, credit cards, investing and more.

“Sharing these concepts early helps empower students to take control of their financial well-being, make informed decisions and learn how to begin building a secure financial future,” says Diona Sherrill, a quality control manager for Huntington who spoke to students at Walnut Hills High School. “We talked about how making sound financial decisions will ultimately impact the quality of their life.”

The project aligns with United Way’s goal of helping individuals and families in the region achieve economic well-being.

Sherrill’s co-presenter for two class periods was Scott Taylor, Senior Vice President, Alternative Community Capital Manager for Huntington. He says he and Sherrill “talked about the importance of personal finance to each of us.”

Taylor says a portion of their discussion focused on needs versus wants, “to help the students understand parents have a budget, and in that budget are needs, and then they’ve got some discretionary spending.”

He says seventh grade is an ideal time to broach personal finance topics because many students soon will begin thinking about career choices and college, and it will be important to maintain good credit and avoid crushing debt.

Sherrill told students that she was bombarded with offers for credit cards and student loans in college. “We talked about taking out loans for what you need, and maybe not what you want, because those decisions will follow you in your life. And we talked about how important it is for them to focus on their grades and do well in school so they can get scholarship money.”

Volunteers from Huntington Bank speak to students at Western Hills High School.

Volunteering to help young people get comfortable with topics such as finance, accounting, and math can pay long-term dividends for the bank, Mullinger notes. “They turn out to be really good employees.”

To learn about hundreds of volunteer opportunities available in our area, visit United Way Volunteer Connection.

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