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Credit: Isabel Liang

When classes moved online due to COVID-19, Wharton senior Joy Cai found herself with extra time on her hands, prompting her to create a series of crash course videos that teach valuable lessons about personal finance. 

Cai's Penn Money Management videos aim to educate members of the Class of 2021, who will need to know how to manage their own money once they graduate in May. The videos are all less than five minutes long and cover topics ranging from taxes and credit cards, to loans and insurance. Cai released her first video on Feb. 1, and plans to send out a video every Monday at 7 a.m. EST. Over 180 students have already signed up for her free program. 

Cai decided to begin the program during winter break after talking to fellow seniors and recent Penn graduates, all of whom expressed their interest in increasing their financial literacy.  A 2019 report from AIG Retirement Services titled "Money Matters on Campus" found that only 53% of respondents felt prepared when it came to managing money. 

Due to her past experience working for Penn’s student-run credit union, her signed offer to work full-time at an asset management firm after graduation, and her knowledge of money management from watching online videos, Cai saw a perfect opportunity to streamline her knowledge and share it with her classmates.

While she had originally intended to target only the graduating class, Cai said she received overwhelming interest from non-seniors and decided to make her videos available to any interested Penn students. Cai has also given Financial Wellness @ Penn, a program by Student Registration and Financial Services, access to her videos, which she hopes will allow the videos to be used for years to come. 

Wharton senior Anannya Shandilya, who is signed up for Cai’s program, said that many of her classes at Penn have prepared her for joining the workforce, but she has received little guidance regarding how to manage her finances. So far, she said she has enjoyed Cai’s videos, which simplify difficult topics while also being very engaging.

“Especially given the Zoom fatigue that we are having these days with all these lectures, I felt that [Cai’s] videos really stood out in keeping the audience’s retention,” Shandilya said.

Engineering senior Vraj Shroff said that Cai’s videos provide broad introductions to different personal finance concepts, and are a very good entry point for people without any prior experience.

“If you don’t know how to short a stock, that's not something that you would stumble upon on your Facebook feed or your Google search if you’re not specifically looking for that," Shroff said. "She’s giving broad exposure to all these different things that people might find interesting, and probably something they would like to know by the time they graduate.” 

Cai said that the experience of making videos has also been helpful in expanding her own knowledge of personal finance. While she believes financial education is a life-long journey, Cai hopes her videos will provide viewers with an introduction into important concepts that serve as a foundation for financial literacy.

“I just hope that [students] will be more prepared and be ready in the future, financial literacy-wise,” Cai said. “There’s just so many endless things you can learn from personal finance, and you’ll never be able to learn everything, but I’m just hoping to provide the very basic minimum and to raise [students’] awareness of each topic I talk about.”