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Teens and money

It’s rare to find a student who knows how to write a check or open a bank account.

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A world full of bills and financial responsibilities awaits everyone, yet it’s rare to find a student who knows how to write a check or open a bank account.

South Mountain High School Alumnus Jessica Munoz, a personal banker who works at Wells Fargo, came to campus to give advice to students about finances.

“We are just trying to give back to our community,” Munoz said. “I see a lot of teens come in and they don’t know how to write a check. They don’t know how to manage a bank account. They’re … paying fees they shouldn’t have at all.”

Munoz was employed at McDonalds during her junior and senior years at South. Like many students, Munoz was unaware of how to use her paycheck wisely.

“It was like, Hey, let me go shopping, or let me go spend it away, because basically I worked for it. I wish someone would have told me, start saving! Because when you graduate, bills are going to come your way. Nobody told me that and I thought, yeah, it’s going to be so easy. Let me move out. I’m eighteen now. It doesn’t work that way.”

According to Munoz, the first step for teenagers is to get a non-stressful job. She advises students to make sure the job does not interfere with school and recommends they work on the weekends or just a few days out of the week. Munoz explained why having a part-time job is important for the future.

“Let’s say you graduate and that you want to work at the bank. We are going to look at your history and if you haven’t worked before, we’re not going to give you the job, because you don’t have any experience,” Munoz said. 

The second step is to create a plan that takes all your expenses into consideration.

“We have to pay taxes for the state, federal, and all that,” Munoz said. “What we actually do have to take home, we have to budget it out. Think about the rent that we are going to be paying, the bills … all of that, because once you guys move out from your parent’s [home] … that’s when reality hits.”

Munoz advised students to be wary of two concepts: pay cards and paying things in cash. Many small jobs that teenagers will take up, such as working at fast food restaurants, will try to give workers their check on a pay card. Munoz recommends not using the pay cards because they charge students unnecessary fees. 

“It’s always important to have a paper trail,” Muniz said. “If you pay somebody cash, it’s like it never happened.”

Instead Munoz advises teens to start with a basic account and work up from there. 

“Start off with a checking account,” she said. “First, learn how to manage that, then work up to a savings account. Then work your way up to a credit card.”

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Teens and money