Thursday, June 5, 2014 | return to: supplement, salute to graduates


a salute to graduates |  Econ 101: Israeli teens get schooled on managing money

by abigail klein leichman , israel21c

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“Living in minus” is a well-known phrase in Israel. It means one’s bank account is chronically overdrawn.

Cadets at Amal Holtz High School in Tel Aviv with their mentor (right)  photo/courtesy israel21c
Cadets at Amal Holtz High School in Tel Aviv with their mentor (right) photo/courtesy israel21c
Not only low wage-earners live in minus. The problem stems from mismanagement of whatever amount of money one has, according to Mindy Ajzner, CEO of Chaim BePlus (Living in Plus), a nonprofit organization that trains Israeli youth from all sectors of society how to avoid a lifetime of overdraft.

Since it was founded in 2006, Chaim BePlus has helped teach more than 8,000 Jewish, Arab, Druze and Bedouin 17- to 21-year-olds across Israel to manage their finances, stick to a budget and save money.

Ajzner has a senior bookkeeping certificate and a degree in education. “I started counseling families in debt, and realized I wanted to work on prevention. That’s why I started Chaim BePlus,” explains the Canadian immigrant living in Ra’anana for three decades.

The course is taught by trained college-age mentors with excellent communication and leadership abilities. Using a kit with lesson plans, film clips, games and worksheets, the mentors are dispatched to fill “orders” from high schools and other youth programs to mentor students in grades 11 and 12 — that critical age when most teens have a bank account and a driver’s license.

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