MSU student and 4-H alumna teaches money management to others and learns along the way

Alexis Garbo worked with MSU Extension to develop money management activities during 4-H Exploration Days and increased her financial knowledge in the process.

Alexis Garbo
Alexis Garbo leads the Plinko Budget Buster activity with youth and their families at 4-H Day at the MSU Breslin Center. Photo by Christine Heverly, MSU Extension.

With a generous gift from Chemical Bank, Michigan State University Extension staff were able to hire Alexis Garbo, Michigan State University student and Michigan 4-H alumna, to develop a money-education carnival and an educational online scavenger hunt during 4-H Exploration Days. During her employment, Garbo was able to learn about money management to create the activities and learned information that affected her personal life.

“My favorite part about the entire experience was that not only was I educating youth, but I was educating myself as well,” Garbo shared. “As a broke college student, money management is not my specialty. I am known as a spender, not a saver, which is not a great reputation for a college student to have. One station we created that really made me think about my money management decisions was the budget-buster Plinko. The game consisted of a plinko board and different scenarios that were considered budget-busting scenarios. As I started to write out the different scenarios the youth were going to use for the game, I started to think about how I practice these scenarios myself. Some of the scenarios for budget-busting were ‘buying Starbucks coffee everyday instead of making coffee at home,’ ‘going out to eat instead of packing a lunch,’ ‘buying pop at the gas station every time you get gas’ and other similar scenarios.

“After creating all the scenarios and really thinking about how much money I spend on little things like this, I decided that my own behavior needs to change. I have been keeping up with the decision and, before buying something, I really think about if it’s necessary or not.”

The experience also provided Garbo with the increased knowledge that a career in Extension is something she is interested in for her future. Garbo commented, “When the money carnival rolled around, I was a nervous wreck, but the support and love I got from 4-H staff was incredible. After 10 long months of planning, everything was coming together, and it was somewhat magical to see. I can now say that I am capable of planning an event for 2,000 youth. I learned logistics of planning, the proper staff to be in contact with, the timing of when things need to happen, and of course I learned things to change for the future.”

Garbo ended with gratitude to Chemical Bank for their funding support that made this experience possible for her and the youth she was able to reach through her programming. She shared, “Thank you Chemical Bank for providing the funds to educate not only our youth, but myself as well, about the importance of healthy money management. It truly makes a world of difference when you know what to do with your money!”

MSU Extension staff appreciate all the hard work Garbo put into her money management endeavors and her unique perspective as a college student was helpful in providing relevant and youth-based education to other youth.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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