First Financial Bank in Downtown Abilene hosted 72 AP Government and Economics students from Abilene High School with their teachers during school hours on Tuesday, March 8. Students learned how to budget, plan for their futures, the importance of saving, how to avoid consumer debt, and how to be a savvy consumer. These lessons are part of the JA Personal Finance curriculum. The curriculum was taught by First Financial Bank employees and executives throughout the day.
In addition to the JA program material, students were welcomed to the bank by Abilene area President Marelyn Shedd, treated to a tour of the facility (which included the Bank lobby, the vault, the Trust & Asset Management Company, and the Executive Board Room - the students' favorite part of the tour), and access to a Q&A session with a panel of First Financial employees with expertise in Equity & Investments, Consumer Lending, and the Banking / Finance Industries.
Major takeaways from the day were:
- An increased awareness of how to budget and why budgeting / saving are important pracitices
- A better understanding of making good choices with debit / credit cards
- An increased awareness of selecting a major
- An appreciation of the finance industry
- An appreciation for a large corporate environment in Abilene
- A better understanding of how to access student loans
One student said this about her experience: "I've always thought I would study nursing. But after today, I am fascinated about the Finance Industry! This has been a very eye opening experience."
Another student said his experience with the First Financial panel opened his eyes to how compound interest works and said, "I'm taking the advice from the Investments [expert] on the panel ... I'm going to invest the first $70 from my paycheck each week starting now. I never knew how important it was to save for retirement at this early of an age."
Finally, one student gained a better appreciation for Abilene. His takeaway sounded like this: "I have already decided to be a Business Administration major. But I didn't know this was in Abilene. I mean, I knew First Financial was in Abilene, but I didn't know that was First Financial. I could definitely see myself working at a place like this!"
First Financial Bank will host students from Cooper High School in early April.