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The Guide to Buying Your First Car

Buying your first car is an exciting time. While the new car smell and shiny detailing may steal your heart, it could be the most significant investment that you don’t receive a return on.

By the end of 2017, Americans had $568.6 billion of debt buckled into auto loans. If that statistic doesn’t scare you, in the first quarter of 2018, 4.3% of all auto loans were at least 90 days late.

To set yourself (or your teen) up for success when purchasing a car for the first time, here is our driver’s crash course in car buying!


Before you even start searching for a vehicle, determine what you can afford. Look at all of your expenses, evaluate how much insurance will cost each month, what you can afford when it comes to filling your car up with gas, what you may be spending in repairs, and what you can afford to put down on the vehicle.

Financing Options

While financing may be available to you, keep in mind that for teens under 18 years old, a parent’s name may be required on a loan application form. The primary reason a teen may need a co-signer is due to their lack of credit history and therefore an absence of a credit score. A co-signer is a friend or family member that has good credit and who will be paying for your loan if you are not able to. While it is common for parents to co-sign on loans for young car buyers, it’s crucial to outline what your loan expectations are with the individual who may be signing alongside you.

Start Your Engines

Once you have established what you can afford, it’s time to look at what you need in a vehicle. To start, establish if you will need an AWD, front wheel drive, or rear wheel drive, etc. Look at the gas mileage for the vehicles that have the drive type you are looking for, determine what mileage range would be ideal, and then identify a make and model that fits the criteria.

Navigating a Dealership

Wherever you may be looking for a car, the goal for the seller is to make as much as they can from the sale. You, as the buyer, have a responsibility to be as thorough as possible with all negotiations. From your research, you should be able to evaluate the value of the vehicle you are looking for with a specified number of miles would cost, be sure to use your research to negotiate. In a survey of car buyers, 62% of millennial women felt pressured to purchase a car right away when visiting a dealership and almost half (49%) of the women felt as if they were being tricked into buying features they didn’t need. In the end, don’t be afraid to walk off of a car dealership empty-handed. It’s better than driving off the lot feeling taken advantage of. If negotiation isn’t your strong suit or if you have yet to be in a “haggling” circumstance, check out these tips for negotiating with a car dealer! Have a soon-to-be driver at home? Have them take the JA Financial Test Drive!


The Journey of the Grind

The hardest part of finding your first job? It’s not putting together the perfect outfit, mock interviewing, or even perfecting your resume; it’s identifying what industry and role you will succeed within AND enjoy going to day-after-day.

Right after college graduation, most young adults dream to have just one job lined up.  Through competitive interviews and multiple counter offers, some feel utterly lost. After spending years of life preparing for this moment, most don’t realize how their experiences and self-discovery throughout higher education or even high school can influence one’s future path.

For those who are graduating in the spring and are stressing about finding the right fit for your first job, this one is for you!

Do Some Self-Searching

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s a crucial step. A workweek consists of 120 hours, as a minimum you will be working 40 hours a week but probably closer to 50 or 60. That’s about half the total hours in a workweek. Finding yourself disappointed that it’s Sunday and you have work the next day is one thing, but if you are getting panic attacks because you cannot stomach going into your workplace for yet another week—That’s a problem. To find your career sole-mate, ask yourself: What environments do you thrive in? How big of a company do you want to work in? Do you want to travel or remain behind a desk? What makes you feel fulfilled? These are just a few questions but will provide a good foundation for identifying the right work environment.

Do Your Research

Every company has a culture that will either make or break you. Once you have narrowed down an industry you wish to work in, start identifying businesses that are close (but convenient and easy to transition into) and far (but will add value to your resume or pay more). Before sending your resume to any company, google the business. Begin by skimming their social media feeds (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps YouTube) as well as Glassdoor. For those who are unaware of Glassdoor, this site is where employees and past employees can give their review of the company and the culture. From here, start sorting your list from most ideal to least favorable.

Talk to Someone Who Empowers You

Be sure to ask individuals who you are close with and have had years of work experience what their journey was like, how they navigated various positions, and what drove them into their current position. While you might not hear what you wish they had said, it will be food for thought as you are searching for your first position.

Think About Your Future

How many times have you heard that in your life? But when you actually think about it, where do you see yourself? Do you want a big corner office with your own receptionist or do you want to be your own boss and create a company that you see as valuable in the world? There are a million options!

Liking What You Do for a Living

The final, crucial piece of advice for finding the right career path is discovering the balance of doing something you enjoyed as well as the ability to make a living. While it’s necessary to be passionate about your work, in the end, work is what keeps a roof over your head, food on the table, and provides other necessities. Not everyone wakes up knowing they love to code or even practice medicine. It’s the experience that you will acquire that will guide you. You’ll learn what you like, what you dislike and what you loathe. From there, brainstorm a mix of your likes to what will provide your basic needs. 


Not all career journeys are the same nor should they be! Have a career path that you want to share? Email for a chance to be featured!

Learning Your Way

American lawyer Brad Henry once said, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” It is through learning that personal development comes into fruition and change begins. Yet, learning doesn’t always occur in a classroom or a training center. Opportunities to grow are presented to us daily, but it’s understanding the learning style you need that determines if you take these opportunities or not.

Believe it or not, we all have a dominant learning style that is our “go-to,” but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one we may use. The truth of the matter, we all have a learning style that we adopt and modify to meet our needs. 

Here are the four primary learning styles and some questions to determine if it’s one you may use! Please note, the following learning styles are based on the theory of Neil Fleming’s VARK model.



Visual learners focus on spatial formations, preferring pictures and images to understand concepts. As the occipital lobes at the back of your brain manage spatial/visual elements, it is said this is where your brain is processing this learning.

You May Be A Visual Learner If:

You prefer to see information and the relationship between concepts.

How to Use This Learning Style to Your Benefit:

In most traditional spaces, the educator will provide materials or outline topics on a large screen or whiteboard. Some believe visual learners prefer to study in solitude to focus on colors, shapes and spatial flows. Try using a visual outline or a concept map to organize your notes, be sure to read the text that is associated with any diagrams or graphic visuals, and retain information easier by color coding your notes.


Reading / Writing

Unlike visual learners, reading/writing learners tend to learn the best when interacting with text.

You May Be A Reading / Writing Learner If:

You prefer to take notes in class, writing down the information in the way that you understand it. The physical motion of writing helps to ingrain the information.

How to Use This Learning Style to Your Benefit:

Be sure to re-write and re-read your notes! This learning style is all about how digestible the text is to you! When reading over, take notes of the concepts or large ideas that you don’t understand. From there, go back through your textbook or other resources, and write down the ideas you did not remember.



Auditory learning thrives best in a lecture-based setting. These learners take note in a person’s tone in voice, may prefer oral exams and retain information better when working in groups.

You May Be an Auditory Learner if:

You perform better for oral exams than a writing exam, participating in class discussion helps you to understand concepts better and reading text aloud helps you to remember information.

How to Use This Learning Style to Your Benefit:

Be sure to participate in class discussions! When you find yourself having a difficult time remembering a broad concept, try turning it into a story. Stuck on a written exam question? Try reading it aloud or under your breath to better understand what it’s asking!



If you loved the “head, shoulders, knees and toes” song, chances are you have some kinesthetic styles in your dominant learning style. Kinesthetic learners prefer to move while they are learning!

You May Be a Kinesthetic Learner if:

Typically, these individuals are involved in sports, art, and drama as they have excellent hand-eye coordination and quick reception. If walking around while thinking or talking aloud about a concept helps you to process and digest the information, kinesthetic learning is your learning style!

How to Use This Learning Style to Your Benefit:

Some of the best ways to understand information as a kinesthetic learner are by acting ideas out, study while standing or moving (like sitting on a balancing ball at your desk), doodling during a lecture, or studying while you’re physically engaged, such as while you’re bouncing a ball.


The best way to determine your learning style is by giving each one a try! While not every environment may be suitable for your style of learning, it’s crucial to understand which method you prefer early to modify for the future! 

Money Concepts Your Student Should Know Before High School

Did you know: According to the Council for Economic Education, only 17 states require students to take a personal finance course in high school. That means when it comes to learning how to budget, write a check, balance a checkbook, and pick a credit card, most young adults have had no education or experience on these matters...

Skeptical of the impact a high school course could make on your teen? A Federal Reserve report revealed that students who were exposed to a course in personal finance had an average credit score of 7 to 29 points higher than those who never took such a class.

A JA and Allstate survey found that 84% of teens look to their parents to learn about money management. So, while the chances are that your state curriculum doesn’t require students to learn about personal finances, you can prepare your child in the one environment they spend the most time – at home.  

These are our top 5 personal finance concepts that your high school student should know and how you can teach them!

1.      Budgeting

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But would your teen know the difference between income, expenses, and savings? Would they know that their expenses should not surpass their income? Teach your teen this concept by identifying the regular monthly expenses such as gas, phone bill, food, etc. as well as putting some money aside for unexpected expenses. Need a template? Print off our FREE budgeting worksheet

2.      Credit Cards

Most teens have heard the horror stories of credit cards, but do they actually know how credit works? While your teen needs to be 18 to be a credit card holder, it’s never too early to teach them how they work, what interest rates are, payment periods, and credit scores. With your teen, check out NerdWallet where both of you can search and compare various credit cards and their features!

3.      Bank Accounts and Savings

If your teen doesn’t already have a bank account, we suggest you establish one ASAP. Teach your teen about ATM fees, fees associated with individual bank accounts, online banking and how a debit card works. The best way? Hands-on learning. Once they receive their debit card and show them how to keep track of their transactions. Have your teen inquire about what perks their bank may have for a personal savings account and help him or her outline some of their goals like buying a car, affording college, or even purchasing their first home down the road!

4.     Loans

Student loans can help make college dreams come true, but can also become a nightmare down the road if not used responsibly. Be sure that you discuss the difference between federal and private loans, calculate the monthly payment for each loan (including the interest rate), as well as how it can impact their future savings. Need a personal narrative to share? Check out The Empowered Dollar

5.     Impulse Spending

When it comes to wants and needs, most teens don’t have the self-control to evaluate what is more important objectively. When your teen has their bank account set up, take the first couple months slow. Print out the transactions and go through the expenses with them. Go down one-by-one to determine if the purchase was a want or if it was a need. By doing this, you can help your teen see the bigger picture of money.

While most states do not require personal finance education, JA offers programs in all 50 states throughout the USA and that promote financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship in curriculum aligned to state standards! JA programs teach important life-long skills while advancing educational goals.

Countdown to Resolutions for Teens

How old were you when you made your first New Year’s Resolution? Do you remember what it was?

With 2019 nearly upon us, JA wanted to know if teens are making their resolutions for this upcoming year, and if so, what they were. According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. teens, conducted by Junior Achievement USA and ORC International, nearly 9 in 10 teens (88%) are planning on making New Year’s Resolutions. The resolutions they are looking to achieve:

Achieving Successful Resolutions

How do those who make resolutions, keep them?

While some have believed that a habit can stick after just 21 days, science has found this to be false! According to research conducted by the University College London, it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit.

To keep resolutions sustainable, here are our top tips for the teens that share our resolution findings:

1. Pick 1 – 2 resolutions!

Too many resolutions and you’ll be overwhelmed; yet too few and you won’t be challenging yourself. Stick with a range of 1 to 2 depending on how committed you are to the change you want for 2019!

2. Tell others about your resolution!

By sharing your resolutions with those who you are closest to will not only build a support system, but will also make you more accountable!

3. Write it down!

Everyone needs a reminder. Writing down your resolutions will give you a goal that you can’t change should the resolution get difficult. Be sure to keep the piece of paper you wrote down your resolution in a location that you will visit daily.

4. Pat yourself on the back!

It’s tough to maintain change, especially for 365 days! Break down your resolution goal into 3 “mini-goals”. The first goal should be focusing on getting you off to a good start, the second should challenge you a little further than the first, and the last mini-goal should be where you achieve your resolution. After accomplishing each goal, be sure to treat yourself! Incentives are always crucial for keeping motivation up and doubt down!


May your holiday season be filled with joy and may your resolutions be full of success! 


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