Children First: Wise Up

Money is tight for many families these days.

Some students are getting a reality check on what it takes to pay bills.

Children First sponsor, Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU), has a program helping students Wise Up about finances.

"EECU does this program throughout the whole central San Joaquin Valley. Last year alone we get around 16,000 students within the central San Joaquin Valley of high school age and stuff with this particular program," says EECU community relations officer Joe Doyland.

Students choose a career, set up a household, and budget.

"The students have to go around and they have to purchase a house or rent an apartment. So that'd be housing, and with that housing cost comes utility bills, which is like your PG&E, your water, your trash, recycling all of that, then from there we teach them about. You have to have a media package, which is cell phone, internet, and cable,' adds Doyland.

"If you go out opening credit cards, you just, you get yourself in trouble you dig a hole for yourself and that's what we try to explain to students that you know you can get in debt really quickly, and it's very hard to come out of it," says EECU Community Relations Officer Noemi Valenzuela.

"My parents, at one point, both of them were migrant farmworkers, so we never had these conversations and you know working out in the field sometimes you're limited, especially financially. So I try to share my story. I try to relate to them and just say you know hey, just because you came from migrant farm working background doesn't mean that you can't do this," adds Valenzuela.

The Wise Up program went virtual during the pandemic.

The students, from different schools, spoke about what part of the program shocked them.

Housing, paying rent and car payments were some of the answers.

Students come away with a better appreciation of money and future spending habits.

"Overall it doesn't matter how much money you make, it matters how you manage your money. And how you save it," says one student Jesahi.

Another, Angel, says: "When I go home, I'm going to say, 'Thank you mom and dad!'"
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