Today we’re featuring a guest post from high school student Lauren who earned her EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School certification last spring. Lauren shares with us just how important timing can be when it comes to learning about managing one’s finances.

Congratulations to Lauren for being one of our scholarship recipients! Hopefully this lesson wards off that flashing red notification of overdraft fees forever!

  • Student: Lauren
  • Teacher: Mrs. McKinney
  • School: Bradley Central High School
  • State: Tennessee
  • Sponsor: Athens Federal Community Bank

Lauren and Maddie

Have you ever made a really big mistake you wish you could take back? Of course! Everyone has. But what about a really big financial mistake? That kind of mistake can be really detrimental. You might lose a lot of money. That’s exactly what happened to me. Here’s how a gym maintenance fee made my budget “not so buff.”

All my life, mom and dad had earned the money, paid the bills, and kept food on the table. The time had come for me to start learning to manage money for myself. A part-time job after school seemed to be the right move to make. Once I had earned some money, I had the pleasure and responsibility of making decisions on how my money was spent! So, I had my mom and a bank teller help me set up a checking account and deposited the money into the bank.

My first major decision was to get a gym membership because I was sick of running in the sweltering southeast Tennessee heat. I signed my name on the agreement for automatic withdrawal of funds from my checking account and even acknowledged that there would be a yearly maintenance fee due in March. The excitement of this big step definitely caused some rose-tinted glasses to metaphorically rest on my nose. I was finally getting to emerge into adulthood as my own person.

That is until March 1st rolled around, and the rose-tinted glasses slipped off, crashing to the ground in a broken mess.

I had completely forgotten about the maintenance fee. That is until I looked at my bank account to see a negative red number and another fee. Only this fee wasn’t accounted for; it flashed OVERDRAFT FEE. You guessed it: I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the payment for the gym. I spent the rest of the day rushing around, trying to make sure I didn’t get anymore unnecessary fees from the bank or the gym.

Finally, I got everything under control. Well, everything except a solution to never have that kind of scenario happen again. Then, the next week at school in my personal finance class, we were talking about fees in the banking module of EVERFI. My teacher told us she kept a “buffer amount” in her bank account for unexpected or forgotten fees. Perfect timing, right? I mean, this conversation couldn’t have happened a week earlier?

I guess it takes some experience to truly learn how all of this money stuff works. And the lessons we learn in life are certainly more expensive than we might imagine. The EVERFI Financial Literacy program is a fantastic tool to help students minimize the impact of having to learn those lessons the hard way.