Young Chicago Saves Conference Proves a Wise Investment for Freshmen

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by Christian Chatalian, Freshman IB student

One might believe a journey to financial literacy is the most boring, soul-sucking, mentally draining thing in life…lies, all lies! On my class trip to the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library, a group of freshman students had the miraculous opportunity to invest in their future  (learning about financial literacy) by attending the Young Chicago Saves conference.  The opportunity provided us with a fun, refreshing take on stock, investing in business, and actually planning a goal for what they want to do in life.

Straight from the moment we walked through the door, the huge expanse of marble walls, turquoise colors, and books as far as you could mentally grasp, encased me in wonder. We were met with a planning guide for the tour and presentation, and led into the auditorium, which looked like a Grecian coliseum in which an Olympic competition could be held.  We were then met by a 6’8” man in a suit—Mike Frerichs, the Illinois State Treasurer! This is where it got really cool.  We were asked what-we-would-rather-have type questions, and it opened my eyes. One of the questions was:  Would you rather put your money in Foot Locker buying shoes to wear today, which provides no financial reimbursement, or put that money in Foot Locker stock to make money off of what you love?

After the opening session, we went upstairs to a youth center called YOUmedia and experienced our first taste of entrepreneurship in the form o f making a business idea and designing steps toward actually making it happen. It was fun!  We worked in groups to find a weird, unique idea that was a combination of all our likes and needs as teens. There were also these books called “Manga” that my friend Jhamonte McDonald and I love. YOUmedia is one of the best environments I could imagine for any teen to go to simply chill, learn, and be creative.  

The field trip concluded with the big topic of conversation:  financial investments. It really is just as easy as saving up money, finding something you love, and putting money in it. There was a huge emphasis on the simplicity of financial literacy and investing.  For example, I want to go to college to become a chef, so now in my freshman year, I should save my money so tuition can be much easier and student debt won’t be an issue.  If people don’t accumulate debt, their paychecks will be 100% theirs to decide how to spend and invest. Some of the money will go toward taxes, but that’s to be expected.  The Young Chicago Saves organization even raffled off a camera, which was won by Zitlaly Giles! This experience made learning about financial literacy easy and fun!