On the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, Mike Finley is known as the crazy man in the pink wig. He said the wig symbolizes a commitment to financial literacy.
"You are the answer. It's up to you. Your financial future has a lot to do with what you do today, tomorrow and the next day," said Mike Finley.
Two years ago, Mike Finley started the UNI Financial Literacy Club to teach young people about money. Mike teaches stuff we all should know, but few of us actually do know.
"It doesn't matter what you're gonna be, you're still going to grow up to be that consumer, still want to retire, still make decisions with your money," said student Aaron Reinhart.
Mike is actually a full-time student at UNI. He retired from the Army three years ago after serving 26 years. The Financial Literacy Club meets each Monday evening during the school year. It covers a different topic each week.
As an incentive for students to join the club, Mike fittingly offers money. He asks a question at the end of the night and one person with the right answer is $100 richer. Also, at the end of each semester he gives a test. The person with the highest score gets $1,000!
All the money comes out of Mike's own pocket.
"Because I think it's very important, and I think these young people deserve it," he said.
Student said the money definitely draws them in, but it's the knowledge that keeps them coming back.
"The appeal of winning money is definitely what first brought me, but I've kept coming back because I know I'm learning things every week that can help me be financially successful and responsible," said student Vanessa Hilts Robles.
"There are not very many places you can go to get that knowledge where someone's not trying to get in your pocket and Mike's not doing it. He's doing this because he believes that this is a way people can have better lives for themselves," said the club's faculty advisor Joe Gorton.
Mike Finley's goal is for the students to own their finances instead of their finances owning them.
"Ultimately what I want this to lead to is happiness," said Mike Finley.
Since the semester is winding down, the next set of meetings for the club begin January 28th.
The Financial Literacy Club meets each Monday at 6 p.m. in the University Room of the Maucker Union on the UNI campus.
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