PALM COAST, Fla. (February 6, 2023) – Gathered in the conference room of the Flagler Auditorium after school on Monday, half a dozen students snacked on donuts while getting down to the fundamentals.

What is the recommended age to start your credit, even if it’s really small?” asked Junior Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President Jasmine Lopez candidly.

As an 11th grade student at Flagler-Palm Coast High School, she’s preparing now to stave off any potential financial hurdles in the future, as part of the JCC’s financial literacy series of workshops, open to students in the Flagler school district.

Hosted in conjunction with two of Flagler County’s community banks and facilitated by the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, students are interfacing directly with representatives from Trustco Bank and Intracoastal Bank to learn more about navigating the ins and outs of the looming financial landscape.

“To me, 16. If you’re looking to go to college and you’re possibly going to need credit or lending to assist you then, if you have that ability to get on a parent’s card, (you should). If you don’t, then at 18 you can do a secured card,” advised Intracoastal Bank branch operations manager Vallery Skoglund, answering Lopez’s question.

Sharing tips from a variety of sources while noting regulatory changes and updates, workshop instructors provided easy-to-use information for the students, while answering questions.

“We saw a lot of things that were eye opening,” shared Vincent Amore, branch manager of the Palm Coast Trustco Bank. “While we’re both teaching on it, we’re learning ourselves, every day.”

Other topics during the ‘How to Manage Your Money: Creating Credit’ workshop touched on increasing credit limits, using rewards, understanding and calculating the debt-to-income ratio, lending, and being prepared for emergencies by building up 3-6 months of savings.

“You don’t have to make a lot of money to have a good credit score,” added Palm Coast-Flagler Chamber president Greg Blose during the Q&A portion of the workshop. “You’ve got to be responsible with what you have.”

“What we hope is that when they go out into the real world when they get their jobs, careers, that they have something they can build on,” said Amore. “Everyone has a goal and when it comes to your credit report that’s even more important because it goes with you for the rest of your life.”

Listening intently, Lopez and fellow classmates felt it was worth their time to attend.

“It’s very important for students our age, especially in high school to start thinking about their credit because we’re a generation who needs to learn to manage their money, especially for the future. If you’re thinking about having a family, it’s very important,” said Lopez.

“Today I learned how important credit is and that credit is not based on how much money you have, it’s more like the responsibility that you have to take. Responsibility is key. Also, a lot of times there are businesses that have incentives and I think that it’s important to be mindful of how businesses can target audiences, especially when you’re younger because you don’t have more knowledge,” she said.

Free for students to attend, the next workshop is set for Monday, February 27 at 2:40 p.m. with the topic of ‘Long Term Savings’, in the conference room at the Flagler Auditorium.

“You want to talk about being a millionaire, that is the workshop you come to because saving even a little bit at 18 or in your 20s is kind of where you have the potential to make the most money and retire early on down the line,” said Blose.

As the mother of a teenager, sharing her knowledge and preparing the next generation for success is personal for Skoglund.

“We talk a lot about personal wellness, but we don’t talk a lot about financial wellness, and that’s what I think these kids need to be armed with when they go out into the world,” said Skoglund. “So many will go out and not be responsible with their financial wellness and it will cause them greater issues down the road. To me, it’s about starting them out on the right foot with financial wellness.”