“I wish I had learned this when…”

Candy’s 2016 Game Theory Academy graduates

Candy Pareja, GTA Instructor


I frequently find myself reflecting back on financial decisions and mistakes I have made along the way and wished that school had taught me how to budget or how to calculate an APR instead of the Pythagorean theorem. It sometimes made me question the value of the education I received because I felt unprepared for what I encountered in my adult life.

Now that I am a Game Theory Academy instructor, I cannot help but look back at all those financial mistakes I made and wished that I had the opportunity to take this class when I was younger. Perhaps I could have avoided some mistakes. I can’t turn back time now, but I do have the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives and prevent them from making the same mistakes I made.

This past Fall, I had the pleasure of teaching a group of youth advocates at WestCoast Children’s Clinic in Oakland. The group impressed and challenged me every week with their insights and questions. I looked forward every week to teaching this class because their participation greatly impacted and guided our weekly lessons which led to our valuable discussions about money management. I appreciated their honesty and openness to share their personal financial experiences (the good and the bad) with the entire class.

We learned about personal loans disguised as “signature loans” for example. One of the students had four outstanding payday loans, has started a budget and is on his way to save $500/month. Several students support their families and created a family budget. Another student is saving 50% of his income with the goal of buying a house in the future, without going into debt. One of the students is an extreme couponer and shared great tips about saving money on food.

I hope this group of young adults know how incredibly talented and smart they are. I have no doubt that they will accomplish great things in life and I can’t wait to hear about their accomplishments in the near future. Teaching this group was a great reminder to me why Game Theory Academy is so important for our youth. I look forward to meeting my next group of students!