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I’m thrilled to be one of the newest volunteers for the United Way’s Financial Education Program!  As a workshop leader, I will be teaching financial management strategies to low and middle income individuals in New York’s Westchester and Putnam Counties.  There are several workshops topics in the curriculum, including budgeting and financial planning, credit and credit cards, and getting out of debt.  During my orientation last week, I delivered a practice workshop to other United Way volunteers.  It was an exhilarating experience, and I am looking forward to teaching my first workshop out in the local community!

I decided to get involved with the Financial Education Program for a number of reasons.  I love presenting in front of a room full of people.  It can be nerve-wracking at first, but I always end up energized and having fun.  I feel lucky to have the opportunity to teach people something new, whether it’s a fun topic meant to entertain them for a little while, or a serious topic intended to persuade them to change their beliefs or behavior.

Financial education is close to my heart as well.  I used to be surprised when I had conversations with people about finances, and someone would ask me questions like “I just pay the minimum balance on my credit card.  Can I pay more than that?  Does it make any difference how much I pay each month?” Then I thought back through my own childhood and realized that none of my schools ever taught me about managing finances.  Growing up, everything I learned about finances was from my family, reading articles on the Internet, and speaking with salespeople who just wanted me to buy their mutual funds or other financial service.  It occurred to me that I am not alone:  many other people have never received a complete and non-biased financial education. The United Way’s Financial Education Program helps fill this important need in the community.  I’m excited to help bridge the gaps in people’s financial knowledge, clarify misunderstandings and myths, and give people tools to help them become financially secure.

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