Jackson Beard is only 14, but she can explain what "human
capital" is. And she understands money and personal finance. It's
why she has spent the last year sharing her knowledge with other
middle school and high school students, as well as a few
Jackson, now a freshman at Walter Payton Prep in Chicago, is the
winner of the 2009 Money Smart Kid Essay Contest. The contest is
part of the annual Money Smart Week education program run by the
Chicago Federal Reserve Bank.
Her best financial advice? "Be really conscious of the way you
spend. Really think about what you're buying or what you're saving
for. When you start thinking about it, you start making better
This year, the contest deadline is March 22. The winner gets a
$5,000 college scholarship, a laptop and the right to spend the
next year talking to groups and media about money.
Kay Kamin, a financial planner, helped start the essay contest
seven years ago.
"My dream was that, just as kids come home and tell their
parents, 'Smoking isn't good for you and it isn't good for me,'
they would come home and say, 'Credit isn't good for our family and
it isn't good for our future.'"
Jackson's winning essay spelled out the ways families can
C.H.A.N.G.E.: Cutting costs, Helping small businesses, Analyzing
daily expenses, Negotiating purchase prices, Going green and
Educating themselves about money.
The 300-word essay is only one part of the contest. The six
finalists are grilled by a panel of financial experts to see who
really knows their financial stuff and who can stand up to the
glare of the media spotlight. Jackson, who was an eighth-grader at
Whitney Young at the time, wowed the judges with her explanation of
"human capital." She explained that it's "how much you're worth" in
terms of your knowledge, experience and personality.
This year, the essay question is: "What is a career you think
you may be interested in pursuing? What are the costs and benefits
of this choice? How would you prepare financially and educationally
now, in order to achieve your career goal(s) later?" Additional
contest details and application are available at moneysmartweek.org/chicago
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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