For the sixth year, Cap Times reporters asked several Madisonians to share their "bright ideas" for the new year. We will publish the 2019 edition of Bright Ideas throughout the week and in print on Jan. 2.
Financial literacy is crucial in navigating this minefield called life. If we do not know or truly understand the systems we are in, inevitably we will cripple ourselves or walk the path paved for us by someone else.
When I was 23, my credit score was 545. I owed thousands in credit card debt and was about to start my first full-time job out of college with my wages garnished for a landlord/tenant issue. I was frustrated, embarrassed and scared. It felt like I was in a situation that would never go away and this was how it would be for the rest of my life — treading water in the ocean with no life vest.
That’s not the best circumstance for a 23-year-old’s financial and mental health. Even though I was fortunate to gain full-time employment, the cost of my previous financial choices was too high to actually reap the benefits of a full-time paycheck. The crazy part is that I wasn’t alone. According to a 2012 Financial Capability Study, 18-34 year-olds scored an average of 46 percent on a basic financial literacy quiz. We must start addressing this issue among our youth at an early age.
Ironically, my first career was in the nonprofit sector teaching employment education and financial literacy to Madison-area youth. This led to me becoming certified in teaching financial education and ultimately starting my own financial education business, Cratic Capital Development, LLC. I was able to learn the systems at play to not only better myself, but to help others build their own capabilities as well. When poor financial decisions are made, it can be traumatizing and embarrassing, leading to people avoiding the issues all together thus exacerbating their situations. I’m here to share my experiences and knowledge to build a better future.
- Jessie Opoien