Congratulations to the Winners of the Montana Bankers Financial Scholars Blog Contest!

In the fall of 2014, EVERFI, the Montana Bankers Association and its member banks launched a statewide blog competition open to all Montana students who recently completed the Montana Bankers Financial Scholars program. We asked these students to share their thoughts on a variety of topics, including the impact that this financial education course has had on their lives and the decisions they’ll make going forward.  We also asked them to share the dreams they have for the future and how their newfound financial knowledge has shaped those plans. We’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the students who submitted blog entries in this contest — your stories were truly inspiring.

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s contest, Emilie and Renata, each of whom received a $500 scholarship. Here are their stories:

Winner #1

Emilie S.
Lima High School, MT
Sponsored by Montana Bankers Association and Pioneer Federal Savings & Loan

Becoming a photographer seems like an easy job to do. However, most people don’t realize that there are different kinds of photographers (landscape, portrait, black and white, wedding, medical, food, etc.) My dream is to become a well-known landscape photographer who displays her work in art galleries everywhere. Being a senior in high school this is a huge goal to try and accomplish. I have to learn about my finances and figure out how to manage myself on a long road of being a “starving artist”.

The Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program is helping me prepare myself for the crazy financial life I’m about to begin. This program showed me the basics of creating a savings/checking account, the power of interest, and different payment types that will keep me out of debt.

My parents opened a savings account for me around five years ago. At that point in my life I barely understood the concept of interest and what a savings account even was. I put the money I had from selling cows in my savings, which roughly added up to $3000 over the years. After going through this program I discovered that if every month I put money in my savings, my interest would help my money grow. Now after taking the advice from the Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program I have over $4,500 and that amount is growing every month. With this money I am gaining I can make the down payment on my brand new camera and still have enough to buy my books and supplies for college.

The dream of landscape photography will be a challenge, but with the Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program I feel ready to begin my new adventure. I’m on my way!

Winner #2

Renata B.
Bozeman High School, MT
Sponsored by Montana Bankers Association and Big Sky Western Bank

Most likely one of the hardest things to do as a human being is to ask for someone else’s help; whether it be help fixing a bulb, writing a paper, or even worse things like personal matters, no one likes to admit that they are struggling. Unfortunately for modern America, more and more people are falling victim to the prideful stubbornness of not asking others about what to do with their money. I am not proud to admit that even I, a young high school student with minimal financial prowess, was ashamed to ask for monetary advice. The Big Sky Western Bank Financial Foundations program opened my eyes to a much broader perspective on how I should procure with my money management skills. From the insight on loans, credit, banking, saving, and even daily budgeting, this program has taught me more in one semester than I have learned throughout my entire life. I am currently employed at a local Veterinary clinic and could not be happier with my working atmosphere; however, before I signed up for the Big Sky Western Bank program, my paychecks didn’t stretch half as long as they should have.

My generation has been brainwashed into believing that we can simply rely on our parents and worry about saving later in life when we have a more stable career. This program dares that myth and challenges young people to start their life now instead of waiting for later. I am now saving 90% of my paycheck each month for college, directing the other 10% towards birthday and holiday gifts. I now actually enjoy saving and look forward to my bank statement! I sincerely hope that other people can experience the same change I did and that The Big Sky Western Bank Financial Foundations program can really make a difference in the present-day world.

Congratulations, Emilie and Renata!