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Program teaches low-income Reno teens how to save


A program helping low-income, working teens learn how to save their paychecks and budget their finances is rolling out this summer in Reno. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

NOTE: This story and interview originally aired on KUNR in April of 2014.

Listen to the extended interview.

The My Path program started in San Francisco five years ago and is now expanding into Reno.

Here’s how it works: Teens are given a savings account and encouraged to set goals for getting what they want, whether that’s a laptop for schoolwork, a bike to get around, or even money they can use for college tuition. Then they’re offered incentives for saving, like matches and prizes.

Margaret Libby with the program says even if the teens aren't earning much, they can still effectively save and change their overall financial behavior.

“The young people that we’re engaging with My Path are generally on the whole coming from households where saving isn’t something that is familiar, so, it’s an entirely new concept for them. But we’ve found that when low-income people, who are earning some income, when they’re provided with these kinds of supports and opportunities, they take advantage of them.”

Libby’s team is working with the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows to launch the program with a group of 40 local teens, using peer-to-peer education.

“A lot of the financial education curriculum that’s out there is designed by adults, so a lot of the examples that are used don’t necessarily resonate with young people. And so, we bring young people to the table to really ask them: What are the kinds of things they think about when it comes to money?”

A 2012 study of about 300 youth in the program found that participants saved an average of about $500 in a six-month period and nearly half of the teens met their savings goals.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.