Speaker Nathan Dungan Promotes Healthy Financial Habits

Kathleen Ambre

Exposed to more than 5000 advertisements a day, adults and young people are constantly encouraged to spend their money in order to feel good about themselves or address what they think is a “necessity.” Designer jeans, high-tech phones, 120GB iPods, these luxuries may drift to the “need” column for a number of teenagers.

Service Learning Coordinator Ms. Lenhart-Murphy as well as other members of the BSM faculty thought students and parents needed this friendly but weighty reminder. As a result, guest speaker Nathan Dungan, president and founder of Share Save Spend, was invited to speak November 3 and 10. His presentation, titled “How Not to Be Your Child’s ATM,” not only informed the gathered group of parents and teens of the effects of advertising but also encouraged them to rethink what is necessary. “Nobody’s trying to tell kids here’s what the right equation or answer is. It’s more about giving people an opportunity to really look in themselves and decide what their values are and then encourage them to act that out,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy.

Relating to a philosophy already in place at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Dungan emphasized the importance of good values and decisions regarding money: “I would argue that everything we do with money expresses our values, but having said that, most people haven’t really stopped and prioritized what their values are, particularly when it comes to money and the choices they make,” said Dungan.

An attempt to instill healthy financial habits, Dungan spoke about the importance of one’s values when spending money. His overall message focused on three main ideas: sharing money, saving money and spending money, ideas that all collaborate with one another interchangeably.

Tying in with the philanthropic common basket program carried out by Benilde-St. Margaret’s community, the Share aspect of Nathan Dungan’s 3-part message further explains how parents and students all have the opportunity to share their resources. “I think his message of share, save, spend is more concrete and fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do with the common basket program,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy.

Dungan’s collaboration of concrete examples generate an extensive worldview as well as a sense of purpose in his audience. “There are these broader needs in the world that, even from a very early age, young people can and, I believe, should be responding to,” said Dungan.

This message—directed to both students and parents—is not meant to criticize frivolous financial decisions but simply remind students of what they find important and what they are capable of. “I think it’s an empowering message for adults and kids to hear what a real difference they can make,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy.