Mathematics: Learning from adversity to helping teens understand finance
Learning about personal finance isn’t something that many high school students do in their free time.
But for David Chung, it came out of necessity.
After his father passed away in 2017, he was suddenly left with much more than DECA, basketball, and grades to worry about.
“I was 15 years old at the time. Because my father passed away, I was given many responsibilities,” says David, Ancaster, ON, Shad2019. “One of those responsibilities was financial management and that is because my mother didn’t know English and she was dependent on my father financially.”
In a short amount of time, David learned how to save money, manage expenses, settle an estate, and file taxes.
“It made me realize that the personal finance skills I learned were important life skills that aren’t taught in school.”
So, he came up with the idea to create a free event for high school students to make learning personal finance fun and engaging.
He called it Foundations of Finance, and offered it to students across the GTA.
“Regardless of what career path you choose, a doctor, a lawyer, a plumber. Whatever. The ability to manage your finances is essential.”
David was already interested in business and entrepreneurship, working on a clothing line in the past, but this would be his first time ever running an event.
“I was kind of scared. What if no one comes? What if it’s bad?”
He first decided what topics to cover. Then he found a venue and sponsors, contacted speakers, and created marketing campaigns on his website, local news outlets, and social media pages.
He gained about 700 followers on Instagram just a month after launching the event’s account.
And on June 4, 2019, the inaugural Foundations of Finance event took place at McMaster Innovation Park.
“When you work on something so hard and have it actually materialized into something successful, it’s a sense of joy.”
About 100 students attended the session, participating in expert-led interactive workshops on budgeting, managing debt, taxes, and investing.
After the event, a parent reached out and said their daughter came back from the day with a wealth of knowledge.
And just under a month, David left for Shad, and returned with similar takeaways from the experience.
“I do think Shad reinforced my passion for business, and it also gave me an interest in engineering because I found I always liked working with my hands and designing.”
For his Shad design project, his group developed “Ecobind”, a biodegradable, organic bailing twine for farmers. Currently, most bailing twine is plastic and unable to be disposed in Saskatchewan.
“It was fun and a good learning experience exploring the whole engineering and design process from identifying the problem, creating an idea, prototyping, and integrating it into a pitch.”
He even got the chance to tell other Shads about his Foundations of Finance event—and the result was more than he could have asked for.
“I made a lot of connections with people from the GTA area,” says David. “They said that they would be ambassadors to the event. I’m expecting a lot more people next year.”
He’s planning on running it as an annual event, hoping that students will understand why learning about personal finance at a young age is so important.
“Had this event been there when I was learning about finances, it would have been helpful. In one day, I would have learned the basics of how finances work and that would have saved a lot of time for me because a lot of time was spent learning skills. It would have made it a lot easier.”