This post was written by Farah Sheikh, one of our friends at DoSomething.org. SALT™ has teamed up with DoSomething.org to help students and alums take on their financial challenges—including what to do when faced with tough spending decisions.
We’ve all done some strange things to make money. My weirdest job? Working at an events company where I dressed in an elf costume and shuffled snot-nosed kids through the line to meet Santa every holiday season. At an Easter event one spring, I saw the inside of the Easter Bunny costume head … and was never the same.
Every time I got a paycheck from that job, it seemed like it was gone in the blink of an eye. I had no idea how to make the right financial choices. I definitely would have preferred managing my money to laboring in Santa’s village. Now, DoSomething.org wants to know what you’d rather do to save some cash—and you could win a $3,000 scholarship by telling your friends.
For the second year, DoSomething.org, the largest not-for-profit for young people and social change, is partnering with H&R Block Dollars and Sense to provide young people with a text messaging-based financial education experience.
The experience, called Would You Rather, uses text messages to challenge you to make decisions about how to manage money, while also providing real world financial tips. Last year, 44,238 people participated, delivering 62,435 tips to their friends.
Why This Is Needed
Back in my elf days, I wasn’t alone in my lack of finance savvy. And, unfortunately, the implications of being clueless about money extend much further than the holiday season.
Seventy percent of college seniors graduate with student loan debt, averaging $29,400 in 2013. In addition, 36% of recent college graduates are mal-employed, meaning they work in positions that don’t require a degree, like on a wait staff or in the service industry.
There is a monumental gap between the average college graduate’s debt and their financial ability to pay—and much of it can be attributed to an inability to understand and make tough financial decisions. Would You Rather combats this issue head-on.
How The Experience Works
From January 28 through April 3, you can start and share the Would You Rather experience by visiting DoSomething.org/wyr. Once you begin:
- You will receive a text message, like: “What would you rather do to save $$? A) Share your spring break hotel room w/ your entire extended family OR B) Not go on spring break.”
- You respond: “A”
- Our response? “Hope the bathtub’s comfy!”
- After this interaction and throughout the game, you receive actionable financial tips relevant to the question, such as: “Going on spring break? Create a travel budget so you come back from vacation with happiness and a tan, rather than regret.”
You have the opportunity to send this game to friends, and if you do, you will get a chance to win a $3,000 scholarship! But even if you don’t win, you’ll still share and receive valuable financial tips directly relevant to your life. Focusing financial education on short-term decisions and small behavior changes with big impact is an effective and impactful way to think about your financial future—and keep you away from the Easter Bunny’s inner workings.
Want to play Would You Rather? Go to DoSomething.org/wyr to get started today.
We love teens. They are creative, active, wired … and frustrated that our world is so messed up. DoSomething.org harnesses that awesome energy and unleashes it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car. With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the U.S. for teens and social change. Join us at www.DoSomething.org.
 Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt
 Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.