Passionate about Building Financial Literacy Skills for Students
April is Financial Literacy Month, and DHG is shining a light on some of the work our people are doing to contribute to financial literacy in our communities. Melissa Watson is a marketing associate at DHG who is passionate about sharing financial literacy skills with students through her volunteer work with Junior Achievement. Read more from a recent interview with her.
Tell us about Junior Achievement (JA) and its mission.
Junior Achievement’s purpose is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. JA’s programs are designed to teach work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to kindergarteners to 12th graders. JA of Central Virginia supports 27,000 students per year in more than 20 cities and counties in the region.
When did you become involved with JA and how do you regularly support the organization and its mission?
I started volunteering with JA in 2016, and I immediately fell in love with it. I regularly volunteer teaching first graders two or three times a year, and I work with high schoolers a couple additional times a year at the JA Finance Park. I try to encourage others in the office to volunteer and influence future generations.
Why do you think financial literacy is so important to pass on to younger generations?
I think its extremely important to promote financial literacy and make sure future generations are able to handle their personal finances. Personal debt and lack of savings can be debilitating, and I think it is so crucial to provide students with the tools to prevent these hardships life brings.
I witness a lot of “ah-ha” moments when I volunteer at Finance Park. The teens are shocked to learn how much adults deal with on a regular basis in paying bills and buying groceries. Each decision makes an impact on the overall budget, and they are always surprised by how expensive childcare and transportation is. Realizing they have to pay for their spouse and children too is always entertaining. I thoroughly enjoy seeing them realize how important it is to budget, as most expenses are more than they expect.
How has working with JA helped you in your own career and in the area of financial literacy for your own family?
Volunteering with JA has helped me immensely with my confidence in presenting and has provided great practice in explaining complicated concepts in simple ways. The experience has been valuable to me personally as well. Each time I volunteer with Finance Park, I get a nice reminder on the importance of saving and paying down credit card debt as quickly as possible.