By RICHARD LIANG
MARIA CARRILLO HIGH SCHOOL, JUNIOR

Students in most nearby school districts are supposed to go to school 180 days a year and sometimes more than seven hours daily. That’s a whopping 1,260 hours a year, and that gargantuan amount of time does not even include the many, many hours spent doing homework and other school related activities.

Richard Liang, a junior at Maria Carrillo High School

Even if school is meant to help to prepare you for future education and success, 1,260 hours is a grueling amount of time to spend taking classes or doing anything else for that matter. And, after taking all of my finals, I was ready to relax and enjoy my summer.
So, when my parents asked me if I wanted to do a four-day course on banking and financial planning, to say that I was initially unwilling would be a big understatement.
I felt it must certainly border on cruel and unusual punishment to subject a student to spend four more days in class, and I fervently voiced these opinions. However, in the end, I grudgingly agreed, realizing I had not the slightest clue about how to deal with the savings and expenses in the “real world” and was resigned to the fact that my summer would be cut shorter. In fact, I admit that I persisted on having this negative outlook even until my first day at the academy.
However, whereas I had anticipated being on the receiving end of a dry and boring lecture about the misuse of money by today’s teenagers, I was pleasantly surprised by the actual experience. The instructors were pleasant and prepared, the exercises incorporated realistic scenarios, and I learned a lot. In addition, even though this program still entailed going to class, it was worth every minute and regret my premature feelings. I only wish I had paid more attention to the lectures because now I realize how important they really are.
I might forget facts about science or dates in history as I get older and do not use this knowledge, but lessons about finances will be used and improved upon for the rest of my life.
Sadly, before this class I had not realized the importance of such skills because I have not had to deal extensively with money and believed that learning about it did not apply to me. However, through this course, I learned that, in fact, issues regarding money affect me every day because the habits and practices I develop now will be the ones that I inevitably use to deal with money in the future.
I discovered helpful strategies, such as paying myself first and managing my credit score, that I had never before considered. In fact, some of the lessons and statistics were so influential that, when I reflect upon my old financial dealings, I realize how many unsound decisions I made. I’m committed to avoid making similar errors in the future.
Yet, of all the things that I learned over those 16 hours, it was the need for such information to be taught to all students that struck me as most important. I realized that if everyone just learned the basics of budgeting, prioritizing and saving, many heart wrenching tales of bankruptcy and financial ruin will be avoided.
Fortunately, it is the mission of Redwood Credit Union and Santa Rosa City Schools to make financial education readily available to teenagers all around Sonoma County and hopefully someday in all of California.