Kids learn to save

Published 10:24 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

Award: Titus Barclift, third from left, receives the award for his team winning the Financial Football game at the Boys and Girls Club on Friday. Presenting the award are BayPort Credit Union marketing intern Rachel Milteer, financial educator and counselor Sylvia Watford and chief financial officer Stanley Leicester II. (Tracy Agnew/Suffolk News-Herald)

More than two dozen kids got excited Friday about learning the functions of banks, credit scores, debit cards and investment vehicles.

Well, really, they got excited about moving a football down a virtual field in a video game when they answered financial questions correctly. But it’s all the same to Sylvia Watford, a financial educator and counselor for BayPort Credit Union, and Reggie Carter, the director of the Suffolk unit of the Boys and Girls Club.

“Our whole goal is to plant these financial seeds,” Watford said. “Even at this age, they can start making savvy decisions about money.”

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The credit union conducted the Financial Football Training Camp at the Boys and Girls Club this week. The Financial Football video game, developed by Visa and the National Football League, provided the Super Bowl-like matchup between two teams of the students.

In the game, the team on offense has to answer a financial question correctly to move the ball down the field. How far they get before being tackled depends on whether the team selected an easy, medium or hard question.

But if it’s answered incorrectly, the defensive team gets a chance to answer. If they answer correctly, there will be a sack or fumble. If both teams answer incorrectly, the offensive quarterback will throw an incomplete pass or be tackled on the line of scrimmage.

During the training camp leading up to the game, the students learned about a variety of financial concepts, such as the difference between banks and credit unions; how credit cards, debit cards, credit scores, investments, interest, loans, bank accounts and other financial concepts work; and the importance of saving money, budgeting and spending wisely.

“It instills in them at an early age some discipline they can take with them into adulthood,” Carter said. “It may or may not be modeled at home.”

The students received play money at the end of each day during the training camp. They could choose to save it or to buy candy, pool toys, sports equipment and other things from the “store.”

However, unbeknownst to them, there was a greater reward waiting at the end of the week for the top savers — a football-shaped bank and $25 of real money to put in it.

The lesson apparently got through to Titus Barclift and Bennie Jenkins, the two team captains.

“I learned how to save your money more effectively so you’ll have stuff when you get older,” Titus said.

“I learned that when you get some money, you’re not supposed to just go spend it,” Bennie said. “You’re supposed to save it for things you need it for.”