Real Talk: Part 9, featuring Ailey Kinsella

Breaking down money basics & answering all your #BurningMoneyQuestions

Real Talk: Part 9, featuring Ailey Kinsella

This month we are thrilled to be sitting down with Ailey Kinsella, a high school freshman who started dipping her toes in the world of personal finance at just 8-years-old. Now, as one of Step’s resident FinLit coaches in The Step Exchange server on Discord, she’s helping lots of teens tackle this important topic.

What is The Step Exchange? It’s our brand new community on Discord which connects teens so they can talk about all things finance! The server is meant to be your go-to community to ask questions, share resources, learn new things, meet new friends and lots more. Interested? Join us on Discord here.

Alright, let’s get into it! 👇

Unlike a lot of teens, you got into financial literacy at a very young age. Tell us more about that & what fueled your interest in the subject? 💸

Yes, I actually started learning about personal finance when I was 8-years-old through a stock simulation game I played at my mom’s “Take Your Child to Work Day.” And, through that experience, I got really interested in learning more about the world of finance. It sounds trivial, but I think the way personal finance is often presented in such a serious and boring tone, ends up turning many people away from learning about this crucial topic. So for me, by having the information presented in a fun way where I could learn via gamification, is what really hooked me on the subject!

At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that your financial well-being impacts nearly every aspect of your life from education to housing to career opportunities. And, unfortunately, a very small percentage of our population actually grows up learning about finance, leaving most to figure things out the hard way (👋 credit card debt). That’s why I’m so passionate about this topic. I want to help stop this cycle where only the top 1% is gaining access to this critical information, and instead, ensure these educational resources can be shared with everyone. I believe we all deserve a fair shot at financial independence and stability!

What advice do you have for teens who are interested in learning about finances but have no idea where to start? 💬

Much like working out, it’s just about showing up and getting started, no matter where you’re at in your financial journey. So, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for that and take a moment to celebrate it. Ultimately, the work you’re putting in now to master these topics will save you a TON of money down the road.

Alright, in terms of where to start, I recommend familiarizing yourself with personal finance by listening to podcasts, reading blogs, playing games and following finfluencers and companies like Step on social media. Then, when you’re ready to dig in on meaty topics like budgeting and saving, you should check out Step’s Money 101 blog which will give you a crash course on everything you need to know. And, if you don’t have one already, open a bank account! Ultimately, nothing teaches you better than experience itself – like setting a budget and reviewing your spending at the end of the month to see where you can cut costs to save more, etc.

Okay, now give us all the tea. What finfluencers should teens be following? ☕

Ooooh, I love this question! Taylor Price is at the top of the list for me. I think she shares great content that’s very applicable and actionable for teens. She’s also one of the few women at the top doing this, so it’s been really inspiring for me to see her help empower other women like me.

Other finfluencers I love are Erika Kullberg and Elena Taber. Erika, for instance, paid off over $200K in student loans in just 2 years and shares all of the key budgeting and savings tips she used to accomplish that goal with other people. Elena, on the other hand, lives in New York City and shares a ton of lifestyle tips from traveling to furnishing your apartment on a budget.

You’re a FinLit Coach in Step’s new Discord server, The Step Exchange. What do you enjoy most about sharing your knowledge with teens & learning from other community members? 💗💙💛

I love Step’s server because, in my opinion, everyone has unique knowledge and experiences that we can learn from by sharing them with others. It’s also something so few financial institutions are doing. The ability to be able to come together and talk openly with other teens about how they’re navigating and learning about money management is such a rare and wonderful thing.

And for me personally, given I’m so passionate about financial literacy, it’s been really rewarding to get to speak with other teens one-on-one about important skills that will help them succeed. It’s often the small things, like learning how to budget early, which can have a massive, life-altering impact on someone’s life and I feel really honored to be a part of that.

What’s one burning money question you have? We’d love to answer it for you! 🔥

What’s the long-term impact of starting to learn about and practice money management at a young age?

Great question, we’re so glad you asked! Money is like many other things in your life, the habits you establish today are likely to stick with you throughout your life. And, the more ingrained they become, the harder they are to change. Additionally, money is something you will interact with daily for your entire life – from buying your morning coffee, to paying rent, putting gas in your car and saving up for that vacation you want to take or home you’re longing to buy.

So, if you start developing healthy financial habits now, you can sidestep many costly mistakes like credit card debt by knowing how to live within your means and reach your goals (whatever they may be) much sooner!