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Personal finance program challenges high school seniors
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Semuel Maysonet of iMortgage talks to DCHS seniors about how much they can expect to spend on things like a raising a child. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Dawson County High School partnered with volunteers from Junior Achievement last week to bring a personal finance program to senior students.

The goal of Junior Achievement of Georgia is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.

Stacy Martin, Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) director at DCHS and Dianne Mayfield who is in charge of work based learning met with Lee Highsmith of Junior Achievement a year ago to discuss the programs that Junior Achievement conducts across North Georgia.

On Oct. 19 multiple speakers from local businesses, as well as from Junior Achievement, visited the high school to offer presentations that give students a glimpse of real world finances.

"This meeting last Wednesday was designed for our senior class because they are almost out of high school and will be facing many of the topics that were discussed as they transition from high school to post-secondary training and the world of work," Mayfield said.

Dawson County Sheriff-Elect Jeff Johnson spoke to the entire group about how to be a savvy consumer and not get fooled by scams that seem to be everywhere today.

"If you are ever concerned about something, call and ask ‘is this something legit? Is it not?' There are professional scammers out there every day," said Mayfield following Johnson's presentation.

The seniors divided up into four smaller groups to rotate through classrooms and hear 40-minute presentations from each of the volunteers.

Semuel Maysonet of iMortgage gave insight on what is considered fair, realistic income from the time a student enters the workforce up until when they retire.

"Right now you guys have the luxury of spending money that you don't earn," Maysonet said.

"Who wants to make minimum wage the rest of their life? Who wants to make $100,000 a year? Who is shooting for like $250,000? What would you think is a comfortable income for you to say ‘I'm good'?"

"60,000?" Someone offered.

Maysonet explained the monthly expenses of housing, transportation and food.

"Why do we need money?"

"To buy nice stuff," another student called out.

"The reality is you guys really don't want to make a lot of money," Maysonet said. "What you want in life is options. That's what money gets you."

He offered statistics that show a direct correlation between years of education and income.

The personal finance checklist he passed around show that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a person with a high school diploma will earn $1.4 million in their lifetime while someone with a master's degree will earn $2.8 million.

Maysonet quizzed students on how much money they think it takes to have a wedding, raise a child and buy a home.

In other classrooms, Tommy Howard of The Norton Agency talked to students about budgets.

Preston Lemons of Regions Bank addressed credit choices and Lee Highsmith of Junior Achievement talked about the importance of saving money.

"You are getting ready to launch into the world and money is going to be an important part of what you do," Highsmith said to the group.

"Money can be either a big blessing or it can be a real problem," she said.

She engaged the class by discussing their career goals and plans for the future as well as fields that are currently growing.

Mayfield said she had one student follow up and tell her that she learned new things while the speakers had also reinforced what her parents have been teaching at home.