Winning Financial Literacy Essays

One of a three part series.

OneUnited Bank announced its I Got Bank Essay Contest winners on August 31, 2011. The contest was designed to promote financial literacy for youth (ages 8 – 12). All the essays submitted were fabulous. We think you will agree.

Here is one of the three winning essays:

What I Learned from “I Got Bank!”

by Nailah Pierce (age 12)

 It is important that children learn how to use money wisely at a young age because if they do not, they could make a financial mistake that could cause problems for the rest of their life.   From my reading,  I learned the following things: Be careful about sharing money; advertisements can trick you; keep track of  payments; banks keep track of how you pay your bills; avoid  check cashers and payday loan lenders; and wants and needs are different. Here’s how I plan to use all that I learned in my life.

 Be careful about sharing money with friends and family because they may spend it badly.  If you do give away money, explain how to use it wisely.   Someone who continually asks for money is in financial trouble or not using the money wisely.  It is OK to help someone who needs the money who can be trusted to spend it wisely.   I will only give money to friends and family if I know I can trust them to use it wisely.

Advertisements can trick you with get rich quick schemes that do not really work. The truth is you have to work hard for your money whether the task is as small as taking out the trash, or as large as becoming a lawyer.   I now know I need to work hard and I will not be deceived by get rich quick schemes.

Always keep track of money payments and pay on time because if you do not, the bank can take back whatever you bought, bounce back your checks, or tell others that you do not pay on time. Banks keep track of who does not pay.  If you do not pay your monthly payments, your credit score will get too low and you will not be able to get a loan. I will keep up with my monthly payments when I am an adult.

Check cashing businesses charge high fees for the same services the bank does for less. A payday loan is when you borrow money at a very high interest rate until the next time you get paid using your check as collateral.  It is best to steer clear of check cashing businesses and payday loan lenders. If you get a loan, make sure you can pay it back and that you know all the facts about the loan and the lender.

Wants and needs are two things that we often get confused. WANTS are things that you do not need. NEEDS are things that are necessities but you do not always want. Just because something looks great does not mean you should buy it because you might need that money later. I will not confuse wants and needs.

The biggest thing I learned from this book is that there is a lot to learn about money.  I will always try my best to use my new money knowledge and not make mistakes as I grow up.

Teri Williams

Teri Williams is President and serves on the Board of Directors of OneUnited Bank. She is responsible for implementation of the Bank’s strategic initiatives, as well as the day to day operations of the bank. These operational areas include all retail branches, marketing, compliance, lending, information technology, customer support, legal, and human resources.

No Comments
  • Norma
    What a wonderful essay, I can see why this was a winner!! This young person fully grasped the concepts of the book and is off to a great start.
    September 9, 2011 Reply
  • Erik
    I love the idea of teaching youngsters the importance of responsible money management, but am very disappointed in the use of incorrect grammar--calling the contest "I Got Bank" perpetuates sterotypes and behaviors that will certainly hold these same youngsters back if they allow them to proliferate in their day-to-day activities.
    September 9, 2011 Reply
    • Appreciate your comment on grammar. The goal of the book and essay contest is to educate children about money, while also entertaining them. We believe using their vernacular for the title is a small "cost" for the gain of enhancing their financial literacy. Jazz Ellington - the main character in the book - is a great role model.
      September 9, 2011 Reply
  • Paul Hahn
    Despite the preceding comment, I did not see a single grammatical error in the entire body of the essay (and I've taught English at the university level).Nailah, you write very well! Keep up the good work. I am also very impressed with the content of your essay.
    September 9, 2011 Reply
  • Herbert
    It is extremely important to teach young teens, especially young men, how to mangae their money wisely. If they learn the benefits of having a checking and savings account and not having to wait in long lines at check cashiers, they can better appreciate their wage and earnings. Direct deposits will help you save. They need to learn about CDS, Annuities, and long term savings programs. We too often spend excessively and must learn the benefits of saving and investing . Banking should be a class taught in economics for one full semester.
    September 9, 2011 Reply
  • Gail Willingham
    I would like very much to get a copy of the book, since I want my students to enter this year's contest. The person at the branch office in Miami did not seem to know how I could purchase a copy and sent me to this website instead. It would be nice to have information for parents and teachers on how to obtain the book--in your branch offices as well as online. By the way, I agree with the gentleman who said he did not see mistakes in the essay(where it counts).
    March 20, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you for inquiring about "I Got Bank!". We offer a free book to nonprofit organizations, schools and libraries. We also partner with schools to teach financial literacy workshops and just completed our workshops for the Richard Allen Leadership Academy in Miami Gardens, FL! If you are interested, please stop by our Miami branch and speak with our Branch Manager. To purchase the book, you can try any online bookstore.
      March 20, 2012 Reply

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