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Need a jolt of personal finance?

Bloggers organize informal education sessions for young people in a coffeehouse setting.

By Teresa Mears Mar 22, 2010 2:09PM

Young people should learn more about personal finance, and the best way to teach some personal-finance basics just might be to offer a “jolt of personal finance” in an informal setting.


That’s the premise of CoffeeCents, a free series of 15-minute sessions at local coffeehouses in Washington, D.C., organized by Stephen Popick, a government economist and a forum moderator at the personal-finance blog Get Rich Slowly who describes himself as “a longtime personal-finance activist.”


Popick is joined at the CoffeeCents blog (Personal Finance -- Caffeinated) and events by Brian Scheur of My Next Buck, a 25-year-old employee at a nonprofit who describes himself this way: “Following years of hyper consumption, wasted savings, accumulating debt, and gambling, I finally saw the light. I decided I wanted to be financially free. In one short year I have kicked gambling, got out of debt, and invested over $9,000 in retirement."

J. Money of Budgets are Sexy attended the first CoffeeCents session and was impressed, both by the information Popick provided and the response of the young people who attended.

“Pretty genius if you ask me -- a casual place for a casual talk about money,” he wrote. “And a smart freakin’ way to reach out to the younger generation, too!”

But the most refreshing part of these events is seeing how earnest, and excited, these kids are to LEARN! While Stephen was the “instructor,” and Brian and I chimed in with our own opinions, it was these college kids who really generated the discussions and interest to build up their financial base NOW before they make it into the real world. I mean, they actually CARE ... and as I may have mentioned, the only things on my mind back then were Girls, Grades, Beer, and more Girls. If I was thinking about money, I was thinking about how to spend it in the most fun-efficient way ;)

The program is run in cooperation with Compass Partners, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that teaches social and business entrepreneurship to young people.


Todd, one of the Compass Partners principals, attended the first session and found it useful.

In this first session, the program focused mainly on making and maintaining personal budgets, a skill particularly applicable to me, as I am attempting to finance a trip to Italy in a year. Now, I have been handed the resources to set up a budget that will allow me to go to Italy! Whether you are saving to study abroad, to buy your girlfriend a nice gift, to buy a car, or even to retire, having the ability to find how to save extra cash is an invaluable skill.

The next session of CoffeeCents is Tuesday, March 23, in Georgetown. If you’d like to participate, e-mail Todd at


Young people teaching other young people financial responsibility. We like that. We’ve been intrigued to read the work of so many young personal-finance bloggers. Clearly some young people are taking financial responsibility seriously.


Are today’s young people less financially prepared than the young people of a generation ago? What did their parents do wrong? What should today’s parents be doing to make sure their children can manage their finances by the time they go off to college?


Young people, what do you wish you would have known sooner, and what are some of your favorite resources for learning about personal finance?


Related reading:

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