Teens Compete in Financial Literacy Game at GCU Arena
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
Necessity is the mother of invention, and it took a mother’s necessity to invent a board game designed to teach financial literacy to teenagers.
Sharon Lechter, 58, an accountant best known as the co-author of the popular book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” felt that she had to do something when her son Phillip began running up credit-card debt as a student at Arizona State University.
What she and her husband, Michael, didn’t do was bail out Phillip.
“He wanted that, but we wouldn’t do it,” she said.
Instead, Phillip went to work at part-time jobs, taking five years to pay off $5,000 in debt. And Sharon went to work on the cause of financial literacy, eventually developing a game called ThriveTime that brought nearly 100 students from 34 schools to GCU Arena on Tuesday to compete for scholarships.
Joshua Joseph, 14, a freshman at Skyline High School in Mesa, won the grand prize of $10,000 in scholarships, including $5,000 from GCU. The ThriveTime game rewards players who generate “income” and make sound financial decisions for themselves and their community.
Phillip Lechter, who was on hand with Sharon to assist with the playing of the game, said his troubles began innocently enough. In his first week as a college student, he said he obtained a credit card just for showing up for a pizza party in his residence hall.
Before he knew it, he was $2,200 in debt — with no way of paying it off or even making the minimum payments.
“I didn’t know any different,” said Phillip, now 37 and a business coach in Phoenix. “I always saw my parents using their credit card, but I never saw them paying it off. … They told me I had to figure it out.”
Sharon said she has made financial literacy her passion and is planning to take the ThriveTime game to every state in the country.
“Every card in the game is based on something that happened to my son or his friends,” she said.
Also reinforcing the message on Tuesday were host Pat McMahon, defensive end Nick Eason and wide receiver Isaiah Williams of the Arizona Cardinals, and former Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Nick Lowery.
In brief remarks to the teens, Lowery noted that former NFL stars Terrell Owens and Warren Sapp had filed for bankruptcy in recent weeks. Each had made tens of millions in his career.
“Nine out of every 10 proposals regarding your money, you should say ‘no’ to,” Lowery advised. “You’re learning here to lead yourself to make good decisions.”
Joseph, admitting he tends to be a spender when he has real money at his disposal, said the game was beneficial.
“It teaches you to learn to save and to pay off your debt,” he said. “It teaches you how to deal with your money.”
For more about the ThriveTime game, go to www.payyourfamilyfirst.com. It can be ordered on the site or on Amazon.com.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].