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Let's Talk Money! Financial Literacy Basics for Teens with Elliot Meena and Why Financial Literacy Matters For Career Planning

In today's world, financial literacy is an essential skill that everyone should possess, especially young adults who are just starting their careers. However, many young adults lack basic financial knowledge that could help them make informed financial decisions and achieve their financial goals. To address this issue, Career Scoops hosted a webinar on Financial Literacy for Teens with Investment Banker Elliot Meena. In this blog post, we'll discuss the insights shared by Elliot Meena on financial literacy basics for teens and why it matters for career planning. By the end of this post, you'll have a better understanding of the importance of financial literacy, how to get started, and how it can help you achieve your career goals.


Defining financial literacy for young adults

From Elliot's perspective, financial literacy for young adults is less about knowing everything there is to learn about money and more about building awareness of what's happening with your money. Being financially literate means living within your means and with as little money-related stress as possible. For this reason, he defines financial literacy as the "awareness of how your assets/sources (such as jobs that pay income) and liabilities/uses (one-time or reoccurring expenses) impact your life." 

Elliott's Basic Financial Definitions & Concepts 

Sources (aka. Assets)

Sources are the money you have coming in, plus anything of value you already own. In the finance world, Sources of money are typically referred to as "Assets." For example, your assets could include the money you earn from working part-time and the money you could get from selling your car. Let's say you make $500 monthly from your job and could sell your car for $2,000. Elliott recommends forecasting (predicting your financial future) your assets every month. Once you understand the amount of money you can expect to earn in a given month (either by working or selling things you own), you can start to understand your big financial picture for the year. In our example, your assets for the year would equal $8,000 ($500 * 12 = $6,000 + the value of your car, $2,000). 

Now you may wonder, what if I don't plan to sell my car this year? Does that still make my car an asset? Yes! However, you'll want to ensure the amount of money you use to pay for things throughout the year is at most $6,000. You'll want to spend only what you already have or will earn because you haven't yet converted your car into cash and don't plan to at any time this year.

Uses (aka. Liabilities) 

Uses are the money you use to pay for things you need and want. In the finance world, Uses of money are typically referred to as "Liabilities." To understand your Liabilities, you have to be aware of what you're spending money on now and what you will have to spend money on in the future. 

Let's return to our previous example and assume you own a car worth $2,000. However, in this scenario, you borrowed $600 from your parents to purchase the car. Your parents expect you to pay back the $600 you borrowed by the end of the year. You have the option to pay them back a little at a time or all at once, as long as you've paid them back the total $600 by the end of the year. In this example, the $600 you owe your parents is a Liability. 

When you forecast your finances for any given month, you'll need to consider this debt. If you decide to pay back your parents each month for 12 months, your monthly debt payment will be $50. There may be other things you'll want to spend your money on each month, like subscriptions and going out with friends. Your total monthly liabilities would be your $50 debt payment plus the money you spend on other things. It's very important to ensure the money you spend (Liabilities) is less than the money you have (Assets). Making a budget is the best way to prevent spending more than you have. 


Step 1

To begin making a basic budget, Elliott recommends listing all your Sources and Uses of money. You don't need to list the dollar amounts in this step. Simply make a big-picture list of what's happening with your money. An excellent place to start is by listing all your sources and uses of money for the last month. 


  • Sources

    • Job

  • Uses

    • Debt 

    • Gas 

    • Entertainment 

    • Clothes 

Step 2

Add approximate dollar amounts next to each item on your list of Sources and Uses. 

  • Sources

    • Job - $500

  • Uses

    • Debt - $50

    • Gas - $30

    • Entertainment - $75

    • Clothes - $25

Step 3

Forecast (predict your financial future) your Sources and uses for the year by multiplying each item by 12. 

  • Sources

    • Job - $6,000

  • Uses

    • Debt - $600

    • Gas - $360

    • Entertainment - $900

    • Clothes - $300

Step 4 

Subtract your Uses from your Sources to figure out how much money will be left over at the end of the year. 

  • Sources

    • $6,000

  • Uses

    • $2160

  • Sources - Uses = $3840

Step 5

Now that you know what your Sources and Uses of money will be for the year, you can set money goals and adjust your budget accordingly. 

For example, after seeing that you will have $3,840 left over at the end of the year, you decide you want to purchase a new laptop. The laptop will cost $900. If you "save" the $320 left over each month, you can buy the laptop after 3 months. 

  • Monthly Sources = $500

  • Monthly Uses = $180

  • Leftover Each Month = $320

  • Leftover After 3 Months = $960

Another way to approach purchasing your laptop is by saving a little bit each month for the entire year. If you set aside $75 each month for 12 months, you'll have saved the $900 you need for the new laptop by the end of the year. In this scenario, by setting aside $75/month for your laptop, you'll also have money left over to save or spend on other things - like investing or saving for college!

Why Financial Literacy Matters For Career Planning

The financial scenarios in this post were fairly simple and concerned relatively small amounts of money. Scenarios like these are common for many young people, especially if they're teenagers still in high school. But what happens after they graduate? What does financial literacy look like in college and afterward when they're building their careers? 

Financial literacy is crucial to Career Planning because an awareness of your Sources and Uses can help you make smart career-planning decisions. For most people, the amounts needed for their Uses of money grow as they get older. Understanding how expenses like Student Loans and Rent Payments will impact your budget is important. As we discussed earlier, you want your Uses to be less than your Sources so you have money left over to save. Your career planning choices, such as working an unpaid internship, moving out of state, or living with your parents for a while, will impact your sources and uses of money. For this reason, financial literacy is an important tool that you need to make the best financial decisions for your future career.

Watch the Financial Literacy For Teens Webinar and Learn More

Elliott does an excellent job explaining the financial considerations to be aware of after high school, like Student Loans, Tuition Payments, and Rent. He also shares practical tips for gaining the financial literacy you'll need to succeed financially. 

Career Scoops is an innovative career discovery platform designed for young people aged 14-24. We help youth explore career options and plan for their future. Start your career discovery journey today by visiting

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