The Bachelor alum Andrew Firestone joined Rob Skinner, Montecito Bank & Trust’s (MB&T) chief innovation officer and general counselor, in an Ellwood Elementary School 4th grade class on April 7 to teach kids about financial concepts. The visit was part of American Bankers Association’s National Teach Children to Save Day, an educational opportunity in which MB&T employees teach “important financial concepts like saving, budgeting, and credit and fraud” to area students, according to a MB&T press release.
Abby Vasquez, principal of Ellwood Elementary School, said that student response to this day is “overwhelmingly positive.” Ellwood Elementary has been a participant in the program for at least four years, according to Vasquez.
The program stresses the differences between needs and wants and also uses age-appropriate examples to teach children about financial concepts. In one activity, children had to financially plan for a new pet. “You have a finite amount of money and how do you prioritize — what are the things you need to get? I think that example hits home for our kids, and they understand that,” Vasquez said.
Skinner and Firestone — who is heir to the tire empire and cofounder and principal of Santa Barbara–based hospitality firm StonePark Capital —taught a 4th grade class about saving money. Students were given a list of products to buy, such as a pair of jeans, books, video games, and food, and were asked whether they would buy the product or save the money. At the end, students tallied up how much money they spent and how much money they saved.
“If you look at the economic recession that happened a number of years ago, you see the amount of credit card debt, the student loan debt—just decisions that people are making. They are buying more than they can afford to do. If we can equip them with this knowledge — the questions to ask, the resources that are out there in the financial world — they understand when they make that purchase what they are agreeing to do,” Brianna Aguilar, MB&T’s financial literacy coordinator, said of the importance of teaching young children financial concepts. Aguilar said that educating young children on financial literacy is important “if we want these kids to be able to afford to take care of themselves when they are older … pay for all of their own bills and be able to be consumers—just educating our next generation of consumers to make good saving and spending decisions.”