Teaching young people how to set and meet financial goals can set them up for lifelong success. Discover how Kyle is turning his passion for problem-solving into a career by using the financial skills his Boys & Girls Club taught him to budget for college.
If you asked my friends, they’d probably describe me as a pretty chill and lighthearted person. I’m always cracking jokes when we hang out, playing video games and snacking on our favorite foods. But part of life is dealing with problems that inevitably come up, and when that happens, I may stress a little, but I’m also confident that eventually I’ll reach the right solution.
You see, math has always been my favorite subject in school because I love the satisfaction of working through a difficult problem to find the correct answer. So, whenever I feel out of control in life, I like to take a breath and remind myself of all the other problems I’ve managed to solve. This helps me take a mental step back and approach whatever’s bothering me the way I would approach any other tough equation — with patience and practicality.
My problem-solving skills got stronger throughout high school as I learned about different formulas and tactics for solving mathematical puzzles. I began applying for internships and became fascinated with coding when I saw how other organizations used it to run their operations. I’ve since learned a few programming languages and have a better understanding of what different types of coding are best suited for, such as gaming design versus web design. Those early skill-building experiences played a big role in inspiring me to study computer science in college.
Now, I’m a student at San Jose State University, which is in the heart of Silicon Valley — one of the world’s biggest hubs for creativity and tech innovation. I’m constantly working to become a better problem-solver and learn as much as I can so that one day, I can join one of the many high-tech organizations based here and make my family proud.
As the son of immigrants from Vietnam, I understand the sacrifices my parents made for my sister and me by coming to a new country and learning to speak a very different language. I want to show them my love and appreciation for all that they’ve done for us by getting a stable job where I can make a difference and support them in their retirement.
Today, I never hesitate to seize a new opportunity because I learned early on how the right ones can change the course of your life. I was in fourth grade when my mom learned about Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco and signed me and my sister up as members. I made so many friends over the years, built practical life skills and gained experiences that prepared me for my future.
My Club mentor, Erin, was especially encouraging. I always felt comfortable coming to her with questions about what options I had for life after high school graduation. I also planned and executed community volunteer projects through Keystone, my Club’s teen leadership program, and led my peers in coming together to accomplish our goals.
But one of the biggest payoffs during my time at my Club was learning how to manage my finances responsibly through the Money Matters: Make It Count program. My instructors taught me how to balance my wants with my needs and keep my impulse spending in check.
I remember in high school during the pandemic when the technology I had access to do my schoolwork on wasn’t performing as well as I would have liked. I also saw how having my own PC could better benefit my education... and gaming hobbies. Understanding how to create a budget and manage my money more effectively allowed me to save up enough of my paid internship income to buy a new PC just before starting my junior year! The whole savings journey was so rewarding because it taught me financial responsibility and independence, and I was able to truly see the benefits of it once I had that PC in my hands.
That same PC has now joined me on my college journey along with the 50/30/20 rule. I learned about the 50/20/30 rule from Money Matters and now I rely on it to budget for my school supplies and college tuition, put cash away in savings, and still have money left over for fun, like grabbing food with my friends. Now the problem I’m most focused on solving is where to find the best sushi and boba tea in my area.
Growing my financial literacy skills not only helped me have a smoother transition into college, it raised my confidence in my ability to be an independent adult.
The Money Matters program and my Club mentor Erin also introduced me to the variety of scholarship opportunities that exist for students like me. With their help, I was able to apply for several scholarships — and it was so satisfying to watch those awards roll in. Big or small, they all add up! I was also named the 2023 Money Matters Ambassador by Charles Schwab Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which came with a scholarship of its own!
Seeing how much these financial lessons have helped me save in out-of-pocket costs or prevented me from having to take out student loans has been both a relief and a reward.
Though I’m working hard to achieve my next goal big of having a career in computer science, I still make time to have fun — whether it’s hanging with my friends, playing games, staying active, trying new food spots or just being my comedic self.
While I’m getting closer to being a professional problem-solver, it’s never a problem to simply be me.
Since 2004, Charles Schwab Foundation has helped millions of Boys & Girls Club youth gain critical money management skills like budgeting, saving and good decision-making through Money Matters: Make It Count, a financial education program delivered through Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Money Matters prepares young people to select a career, manage benefits and earnings, and be supportive of family without the distraction of potential financial stressors. The Money Matters Ambassador program has also awarded over 336 college scholarships totaling more than $700,000 to Money Matters program youth participants. Money Matters: Make It Count is available to more than 5,200 Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation. Contact a Boys & Girls Club near you to learn more and get involved.
Boys & Girls Clubs provide mentorship, programs and meaningful life experiences that build young people’s life skills, confidence and capability of becoming the leaders, innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest resources and stories.