How Being Financially Clean Helps You Not To Be Financially Ignorant

Knowing how to handle your finances is a skill that is needed for just about any career path, but for such a valuable skill, it isn’t being taught much.

By Ryan Velez

Knowing how to handle your finances is a skill that is needed for just about any career path, but for such a valuable skill, it isn’t being taught much. According to a 2014 study by the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 95% of high school seniors are financially illiterate. Even at the college level, 75% of students leave school financially illiterate, which bodes poorly for the $1.3 trillion in America’s student loan debt. Black Enterprise reports that one Brooklyn-based program is trying to make a difference early.

Financially CLEAN is more than just a descriptor, the name of this organization is a clever, yet appropriate, acronym:

• Credit

• Learn to live without

• Education

• Attention to detail

• No shame in your game

The basic aim of Financially CLEAN is to help young people develop financial discipline and awareness to help create generational wealth. We have written in the past about how the Black community generally has a problem leaving wealth for those in the next generation, resulting in them starting with less than their counterparts in other communities. This is partially due to historical circumstances, but even Black families who manage to move ahead in class don’t necessarily handle their finances properly.

Cofounders Shaun Lynda and Dionne Nichols believe that educating the next generation early will be the best way to promote long-lasting change that will empower them and their communities. “A lot of these kids see the glamorous lifestyles that celebrities lead and want to emulate that,” Lynda says. “But I tell them to buy real estate and let their investment fund their lifestyle.”

Financially CLEAN runs 12-week workshops that cater to students as young as middle-schoolers all the way up to college students. “It’s not enough just to come in and do one class,” Nicholls told me. “You see the growth in their understanding over 12 weeks.” Considering that these are school-age children they are teaching to, it’s easy to expect basic info, like telling the kids to avoid credit cards or look for one with no annual fee. In the class the Black Enterprise writer observed, Lynda went deeper.

“It depends on your lifestyle,” he said, and explained how a card may charge a $3,000 annual fee but provide cash back, or allow him to take his young sons along on trips at no extra charge. Financial knowledge can be confusing, which is part of what scares so many people off. But by taking the time to explain it in a palatable, informal style, Financially CLEAN provides an invaluable service to a group who could use it more than most.

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