By Cyan Baker Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to make money doing what you love? If so, check out these stories of two entrepreneurs who both developed their passions as youth into successful businesses: Chauntae Montgomery (Makeup Artist or MUA): 1. Where did your passion for makeup stem from? I have always been into art since I was younger. I used to draw all the time and at one point I wanted to be a designer, but I later decided that styling is for me, not designing. So I guess you can say it started with that. Then in high school I got into watching YouTube a lot and I wanted to do the things I saw my favorite YouTube makeup artist (AaliyahJay) do. 2. How did you start off your makeup career? Was it as costly as you expected? How did you budget for your business? I started off working for Ulta Beauty and learned how to do my own face. Working for Ulta gave me the product knowledge I needed to be the makeup artist that I am today. I got my first four clients while working there, building a relationship with them and handing my cards out. It’s not as costly once you know what cheaper products work and don’t work. Also, you have to learn to buy in quantities. I buy in threes. One for me, two for clients. It’s worth it for me because I love what I do. You have to spend money to make it and sometimes stepping out on faith is the best way to go for something you love. 3. What advice would you give those interested in starting a business based on their favorite hobbies or passions? I would say don’t let how big you think you should be at the moment overshadow how far you’ve come. It’s important to build your craft. Don’t jump into doing something because you like it without making sure that it is quality. No one wants to come to you for a service expecting a bad experience; but remember that you can’t please everybody. Stay confident and true to yourself and the craft that you built because if you don’t think it’s the best, nobody else will. Brandon Counts (CEO and Founder of Mac-Magician) 1. When did you realize that you have a passion for what you do? What benefits did you get out of your hobby? Where did you learn your trade? I’ve always liked technology since a young age. I started my company in 2011, just after 6th grade. I am completely self taught. In 2009, I worked on my Mac at home, and by 2012 I was good enough to help others. A business stemmed out of this. 2. How were you able to make a business out of it your hobby? I started with my parents’ friends that needed tech help. They would pay me a little bit of money for helping, which gave me the idea to start a business. I branched out to currently having hundreds of clients, and instead of me traveling to their homes, they travel to me. 3. What advice would you give other interested in starting a business based on their passions? Go for it. If you have someone to support you, do it. You never know what it can turn into.
by Ivon Guzman Dreamers are immigrants who qualify for residency status since they entered the U.S. involuntarily as minors. Many of these dreamers are students that aspire for a brighter future but find themselves struggling when applying to college. One of the biggest barriers is financial assistance. Dave Tomar, an educational author and journalist, states in 5 Things Undocumented Students Should Know Before Attending College in the U.S., “Every year, 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school…. Less than 10% continue to college.” These students are not FAFSA eligible and must find scholarships that help them pay their tuition. Every student has a different situation; therefore, he or she must acknowledge all of the options available to them after high school. When it comes to school options, dreamers have the same options as any U.S. student. Currently, there is no law prohibiting the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges. The National Association of Secondary School Principals claims there are currently 21 states that provide in-state tuition. Dreamers can attend public or private institutions that partner with scholarship associations. A benefit of some private institutions is that regardless of status, students are eligible to receive aid provided by the school. Lizbeth Marquez, an early childhood major at Dominican University, is a great example of this. She acknowledges that she is, “Proud to attend an institution that has given her so much aid and support these past years.” If students find themselves struggling to pay for college, they can consider the possibility of attending a community college. Many are hesitant to attend community colleges because they may think it would take them longer to receive their bachelor’s degree. Albino Salinas, a student of Harold Washington College, felt this way at one point but is glad to have attended community college. For him, it was a step closer to reach his goal. Rather than stopping school, he took classes he knew he would have to take regardless of where he transferred. It is also good to note the Star Scholarship exists for qualified students, which allows them to attend college with no tuition expense. If the Star Scholarship is not awarded, community college is often still a cheaper option. If none of these options work for dreamer students, there is also the possibility of the students taking a break and working for a while. Once working, they can start saving and attend college when they have the funds or attend as a part-time student. It may prolong their graduation date, but it should not be something that they feel ashamed about. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong option if you are fighting to accomplish a dream.
by Min Zhen Chen A few weeks ago, I walked into one of the largest accounting firms in Chicago to meet a wonderful and successful accountant, Dawn Simon. She explained a very different concept of accounting to me. When I asked,“What type of people would enjoy being an accountant?” The response I got was not the response I expected. To respond, she questioned, “Have you ever played Sudoku puzzles before?” She continued expressing her interest in solving puzzles and working through challenging problems to meet the needs of her clients. For her, being an accountant is not just a job to fulfill her financial needs, but it is also satisfying. To reach the position she’s in right now, she gave me advice on courses to take in college and different internship opportunities to take advantages of during college. She suggested courses such as accounting, auditing, and tax classes. Ms. Simon finds being an accountant appealing because it’s a very stable job. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for an accountant is expected to increase by 11% from 2014 to 2024. The increasing demand for accountants make accounting an appealing field for many prospective students. At a very young age, I was exposed to banking because of my father and accounting also caught my attention in internship opportunities that helped me understand more about business. To meet the educational needs for an accountant, one would need to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. In an interview with Dr. Kelly Richmond Pope, an Associate Professor of Accounting at DePaul University and CPA, she explained that students who major in accounting take a combination of accounting, management, marketing, and statistics courses to get a better understanding of business and accounting. Dr. Pope also was able to suggest the type of student that would be a good fit for accounting. Dr. Pope suggested, “I think people that are hard-working, love critical thinking, like challenging business questions, love to working on teams, enjoy travel, can work long hours and are smart would love a career in accounting.” The response I got from the professor was similar to the response from the accountant, which led me to conclude that accounting is for people who love critical thinking and could apply this skill to solve puzzles in a team.
by Min Zhen Chen In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty (2015, Census), and in particular, there are a number of children living in poverty. In 2014, 44 percent of children under age 18 (31.4 million) lived in low-income households and 21 percent lived in poor families (15.4 million) in the U.S. The percentage of children living in poor households increased by 18% from 2008 to 2014 in the U.S. (National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, 2016). Increased childhood poverty leads to many disadvantages for children. Research indicates that children living in high-poverty neighborhoods are less likely to perform well in school and are at a higher risk of being involved in criminal activities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an experiment called Moving to Opportunity which involved 4,604 families. They were either placed in a group that received a housing voucher or continued to live in public housing without receiving a voucher. The results show that children who were younger than 13 when their families used the voucher to move to areas with lower poverty rates had 31% (~$3,477) greater average annual wage than those in the control group by their mid-twenties (Wascalus, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis). Today, many of the biggest programs that assist families with housing vouchers are generally Housing Authority programs around the United States. The director for youth opportunities under the Chicago Housing Authority, Ebony Campbell stated that the mission of the program is to “provide a safe and quality home across Chicago for families in poverty.” She also explained that families who qualify for the program will be open to housing choice vouchers or Section 8 vouchers. The CHA also provides clinical services as well as youth education and jobs to residents or anyone under the CHA program. Under the youth opportunity department, the CHA will also assist high school seniors into getting assistance in paying for college. There are 220 scholarships of $2,500 with only a requirement of a GPA of 2.5 and being in the CHA. Finally, any student who wants to attend a community college can apply for a full tuition scholarship to attend the college. Finally, through various housing programs like the CHA and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, many families were able to receive vouchers for homes in safer environments. If more programs were available, additional youth living in poverty could have housing in safer environments
High Paying Non-College Career Options: Vocations & Entrepreneurs
by Trenati Baker Senior year is a very stressful. Besides balancing courses necessary for graduation, participating in extracurricular activities, and (for some students) working, seniors are pushed to apply to colleges and for scholarships. Many young people feel like they must attend college in order to be successful. However, where does that leave students who do not want to go to college or fear that it is not a good fit? First of all, do not panic! Although on average college graduates earn on average more than non-graduates (see page 12), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60% of U.S. workers do not have a bachelor’s degree. Does this mean that they must be impoverished? No! There are over 35 high-paying occupations that do not require college degrees, with air traffic controller and radiation therapist being the highest paying [US Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Plus, there are a variety of ways students can pursue post-secondary education without attending a traditional 4-year college. These options include becoming an entrepreneur, attending technical, trade, or vocational school, and participating in community job-readiness programs. Youthbuild is a combination of these options. Youthbuild is an international non-profit organization that helps low-income students take control of their future by providing them with resources and opportunities that will lead them to success. In addition to the high school/GED academic credentialing and college preparation, Youthbuild offers a multitude of job readiness workshops including resume writing, interviewing, and communication skills. Additionally, Youthbuild offers 9-12 month construction and health care tracks that introduce students to the fundamentals of each field and allow students to earn credentials as well as gain hands-on experience. All in all, Youthbuild is one of many organizations that introduce students to their post-secondary options or as Shawna Huley, College and Career Transitions Manager of Lake County’s Youthbuild, put it, Youthbuild helps students “obtain long-term self-sustainability to create a better future for not only themselves, but their children and the family members they may support.” If you think that college isn’t right for you, look closely at all of your career and vocational training options and know that no matter which you choose, with dedication, you can obtain long-term self-sufficiency.
by Trenati Baker For seniors, as tax season comes to an end, FASFA and IDOC are completed and updated, and financial aid award letters come out, college may seem like a confusing financial quagmire. This is especially true for students with large gaps in their financial aid packets, leaving them with unmet need that is the difference between attending and not attending the institution of their dreams. However, these three simple steps of applying for scholarships, saving, and budgeting can help students manage their funds. APPLY! When trying to close or reduce unmet need gaps, it is important that students apply for jobs/internships and scholarships. The money gained from these sources can be used to supplement college fees and are wonderful resume builders. To find 2016 summer employment and internship opportunities, students should go to the One Summer Chicago website (http://www.onesummerchicago.org) and click the “Apply Now” button to be redirected to an application with over 25,000 opportunities exclusively for Chicago youth. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) hosts a plethora of scholarship resources and applications, with some scholarships that are for and awarded to CPS students only, at their Choose Your Future and Academic Works website (https://chooseyourfuture.cps.edu & https://cps.academicworks.com). SAVE! When you have been awarded scholarships or receive paychecks from your summer employment, saving is a great way to help reduce unmet financial need. Please be advised that some scholarships go directly to the collegiate institution; however, other scholarship foundations may deliver the award directly to the scholarship recipient in the form of a check. If this applies to your situation, it is imperative that you open a free student savings account at an FDIC accredited bank, where the scholarship money can be insured and gain interest (see for a list of free bank accounts for students). Set a savings goal and review other financial literacy modules on the Plan2Achieve website (http:// plan2achieve.org/) and you could win a scholarship (see scholarship details on the P2A website). BUDGET! This one goes almost without an explanation. When we analyze our spending habits and create realistic and wise budgets, we tend to spend and save better. High school seniors and college students alike can use the (FREE!) College Budget Builder (CBB) app to “get a handle on [their] money management plan for college” (http://www.collegebudgetbuilder. org/#/login). Students can use their financial aid award letters to plug figures into the CBB which will, in turn, help them conceptualize the actual cost of college. The College Budget Builder does a wonderful job of revealing the hidden costs of college to students, and it is an absolute must for any first year college students.
by Trenati Baker Summer is an exciting time for Chicago youth, especially those who are employed through the One Summer Initiative or other job programming. For some Chicago youth, this summer may mark their first time receiving a paycheck, and for others this may be one of the many checks they’ve earned; however, what ties everyone together is the struggle to budget and, specifically, how the temptations to eat out complicate money management. Fear not, effective meal planning is an essential practice that allows one to save money and can help individuals lose weight. Meal planning, similar to what its name implies, is planning and preparing your meals in advance at home. On average, if a person were to go out for burgers and fries every day for a year, they’d spend a whopping $1600 (Get Real 39). This statistic speaks to the importance of meal planning as a money management tool. By purchasing groceries, home cooking them, and bringing balanced meals to work for lunch breaks, youth could save lots of money which could be put into a savings account or invested. This is why it is imperative for everyone to begin to meal plan. Chicago Nutritionist, Karen Kim, advocates for basic meal plans that are in line with those advocated by the United States Department of Agriculture. These plans include a serving of fruits, vegetables, a protein, and a carb (see the image below). Kim says that this method is a simplified guide to formulating healthy and filling meals—meals that don’t have to be expensive. Simple staples like chicken, rice, green beans, and apples are examples of food that can be purchased inexpensively, cooked easily, and eaten to help youth get healthier and avoid spending copious amounts of their paychecks during their lunch hours. One Summer Chicago Money Mentor and teen financial ambassador, Kaliah Little, explained her experiences with meal planning as “life changing.” She explains, “at first, I would go out for lunch—Potbelly one day, Chipotle another—but it just got really expensive, especially downtown... meal planning helped me save money, avoid stress from waiting in restaurant lines during rush hours, and eat healthier... I’m not going to lie, meal planning takes discipline, but once you begin and start to get the hang of it, meal planning gets easier and you can really put the extra money you save to good use. I’m buying some of my college textbooks with the money I saved!”
by Cindy Chan Instant ramen is a common go-to meal for many college students and anyone who is on a tight budget. It is cheap, accessible, and savory. Although instant ramen is a popular meal among many college students, overconsumption of instant ramen is tied to cardiometabolic risk factors. There are other budget friendly, healthier alternatives and programs that offer accessibility to fresh, high-quality produce. A 2017 study conducted in Seoul, Korea found a positive correlation between the increased consumption of ramen and an increased risk of obesity and cardiometabolic health conditions. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and [has] affected about 93.8 million of US adults in 2015~2016.” With 93.8 million US adults affected by obesity, this means that they are more likely to develop heart disease, type II diabetes, and cancer. This results in a need for medical attention and costly treatments. According to the American Diabetes Association, patients diagnosed with diabetes incur medical expenses up to $16,752 and $9,601 of that is attributed to diabetes. These numbers are shocking. It is important for students to understand how something low-cost can lead to long-term expensive outcomes, especially when there are other affordable food sources. Many healthier and low-cost options are available right in Chicago. At Harold Washington College, there is a weekly farmer’s market available, but students need to pay attention and seek these out. “I spend about $10 a day on food when I have class, which is Monday to Friday. I never noticed or paid much attention to the resources [Harold Washington] offered,” says Jia Lin, a student at Harold Washington College. The city of Chicago also has ongoing city sponsored farmer’s markets throughout various neighborhoods in the metropolitan area when they are in season. Farmer’s markets provide a great alternative for those that shop there. “I want to make sure that what my children eat will help maintain overall good health, and it certainly will not include junk and fast food,” says Li, a mother of three, two currently in college, who shops at her nearby city sponsored market. “It is good for young adults to know about and take advantage of these things because there is already an issue with obesity in America.” Overall, instant ramen may be cheap and savory, but because of its correlation to obesity it should be consumed once in a while, not frequently. Keep in mind, it is not the only option available. It may be cheap today, but those future medical bills may not be!
by Cyan Baker Ever sit at home trying to think of ways to lessen the cost of maintaining your hair? Try doing your hair yourself! Here are 6 tips to help you stay beautiful on a budget. 1. Determine your curl pattern. Determining this is a major key in figuring out what hair products to use. Different curl patterns include: wavy-curly, curly-spirally, curly-kinky, and kinky-coily. 2. Determine which hair products work well with your hair texture. This will save you a lot of money and time that may have been wasted on buying products that don’t work well with your hair texture. 3. Consult a beautician. As beautician Kiana Savage stated, “consulting a stylist will not only help you understand your hair texture better, but it will also give you a better understanding of the products available to you and will lessen your search for products good for your hair.” Your stylist knows best. 4. Figure out what style you want to achieve. YouTube and Google are your best friends when looking for a multitude of styles. YouTubers from Taren916 to Andria Childress to Purely Kaice--they can all help you achieve that ideal style whether it’s a massive jumbo bun or boxer braids or a simple wash ‘n go. 5. Consider protective styles. Whether you want box braids, micros, crochet, or faux locs, try out different protective styles that will last you for months. Think about it, if you spend $120 on faux locs (including the hair), and your hair lasts 2 months, you spent an average of $15 per week for your hair. That’s not bad compared to spending $45 at the salon every two weeks. 6. RESEARCH! Research before you do anything. It’s the most important thing above everything else stated above because without research it’s all for nothing.
by Olamide Babayeju Investing has increased in popularity over the years; apps and online platforms have even been created to make investing more accessible to the general public. With improved accessibility, there has also been a switch in the way people invest. As seen in a Morgan Stanley survey, “Around 85% of investors are interested in sustainable investing, up from 71% in 2015” (Iacurci, 2020). Since more people are showing an interest in socially responsible investing, the term ESG has risen to popularity. ESG investing stands for environmental, social, and governance investing; it's an investment strategy that is used for both financial returns and social impact. ESG has proven beneficial for company success. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, “ESG can directly impact a company’s competitive positioning. Therefore, managing the environment's social factors are simply part of sustaining a competitive advantage in today’s economy” (2017). Even if you are not planning on starting a business any time soon, ESG also benefits you as a consumer and employee by bettering the female-to-male ratio in companies, enforcing ethical regulation, and bringing attention to significant issues. These incremental changes craft a better workforce for everyone from teenagers to adults. So why are more people not investing this way? Why is ESG investing not the norm? One wealth manager we spoke with, addressed the reason for the lack of consistency among all age groups. She stated, “A lot of clients initially want ESG investing but then go back because they worry that they won’t get the same returns.” A recent Morningstar report for the 2019 fiscal year even showed that sustainable mutual and exchange-traded funds only held $137.3 billion in total assets, which is less than 1% of the $20.7 trillion held in the universe of mutual and exchange-traded funds in the U.S. (Hale, 2020). However, a financial consultant from Wintrust Wealth Management said, “There is a need for individuals to be socially aware, social activism is a thing, so it's great people can strengthen that in their financial endeavors.” Ultimately, while ESG investing may not result in high returns compared to other investment strategies, ESG is crucial in advocating for positive social change, both in and out of the workplace. As you grow as an investor, consider learning more about ESG investing and incorporating it into your long-term investing strategy.
by Leslie Walker One of the most influential platforms in America is the stock market. Available to any and everyone, the stock market is the place where people can buy and sell stock, or ownership of a company. As a company grows using the money people have invested, the investors’ money grows as well, benefiting everyone. But as fun as jumping in and investing may sound, the stock market can be a tricky place and you have to be careful- especially since the stock market can crash. Here are a few examples of these crashes and the main factors that played a role. The Great Depression of 1929 was one of the largest economic crashes in the U.S, since the Dow Jones Industrial Average (a platform for trading stocks) dropped 24.8% by October 29th, 1929, according to Kimberly Amadeo, an economic analyst and writer for The Balance. Among the reasons, speculation had a great effect. In simple terms relative to the crash, speculation showed that businesses were selling products, but it didn’t show that these products hadn’t been paid in full. “The use of installment plans [like a phone plan or lay-a-away] and buying stock on the margin [borrowing money to purchase a stock] gave a false impression that businesses were more successful and had more cash on hand than what was the reality. This perception of success without firm evidence (cash) was speculation. When investors realized the discrepancy between recorded sales vs. cash on hand there was widespread panic, leading to the Stock Market Crash,” says Jimini Ofori-Amoah, an AP U.S. History teacher at Walter Payton. Speculation is still used and can be very helpful when analyzing what stocks to buy, but it can also lead to misinterpretations if not analyzed correctly. The Stock Market Crash of 2020 has also occurred, (but fear not, although it’s bad it’s not as bad as the Great Depression). One of the biggest reasons has been due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which has shocked and scared many people. This surge of emotion has led many investors to take their money out of the market, causing it to plummet. “Most recessions are caused by financial issues or the natural business cycle,” says Anthony Ryan, a Proprietary Commodity Options Broker. With any short term movement, emotion is usually the reason why because many people tend to ditch their reasoning with impulsive decisions; And if many people are taking out their money, others will follow suit to ensure they evade a loss as well. “People who are worried about getting sick from certain activities or are concerned with their financial futures are not spending money as they normally would,” Ryan explains. Due to these factors, as of March 15, 2020, stock indexes like Dow have dropped 12.9%, according to Fred Imbert, a reporter for NBC. These trends are something to stay aware of; Whether it is an overflow of products or the next outbreak, the stock market is an ever-changing platform that can benefit you or leave you penniless.
by Umair Ahmed High school students are rarely offered financial literacy courses. The most we are usually taught is to just “save money” because 4 out of 10 Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, 2018). Teens should definitely build an emergency savings first but then consider investing, which historically has achieved higher returns when compared to saving. Creating an emergency fund is a smart decision to make, but it should only be your beginning. “Having an emergency fund gives you a safety net to protect you in times of uncertainty without having financial stress”(Olunwa, 2020). “On average, an emergency fund should cover 3 to 6 months of basic essentials.” Once you have enough money saved to cover 3 to 6 months of basic essentials, many young adults often start to consider investing. One of the reasons for this is inflation. Inflation must be taken into account when deciding how to manage your money. In simplified terms, inflation is the decrease in the purchasing power of a nation’s currency. The average annual inflation rate of the U.S. dollar is 2.1% (“Historical Inflation Rates: 1914- 2019”). Due to inflation, the cost of goods and services will continue to increase over time. Thus, the amount of money that you have saved won’t be as valuable. Long term investing in a diversified portfolio has historically achieved higher returns compared to a savings account. For example, SPY, an exchange-traded fund that measures the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States, has a historical average annual growth rate of 8% after accounting for inflation. In comparison, the average savings account has an annual decay rate of 2% after accounting for inflation. Not only do you lose purchasing power long-term, but you also miss out on the gains of investing in the stock market. Whether you are investing or saving, either financial choice will take you further than just spending all your money. Florin Nicola, a junior at Northside College Prep, agrees with this sentiment. “It is often tempting for me to spend the money I earn on designer clothes. [Spending] provides me with instant gratification. However, I know that it is in my best interest to create an emergency fund at an early age as it will help me in the future in case of an emergency (Nicola, 2020).”