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Credit Union CEO Loves the Outdoors and Helping Young People Get on the Path to Financial Freedom

by Team Sammy

Sammy Rabbit’s 1st National Dream Big Read Financial Education Initiative is pleased to present Excite Credit Union President and CEO Brian Dorcy’s insights on kids, money, and financial literacy education.

About Brian Dorcy

Brian is President and CEO of Excite Credit Union based in San Jose, California.  Brian and his wife Kathy live in Sunnyvale, CA and have two children who have graduated college and are starting out in life.  Brian began working with credit unions over 25 years ago and is passionate about the role credit unions play in helping people achieve financial success, especially young people.  Brian and his wife enjoy hiking National Parks, riding bikes, and anything else that involves getting outdoors.  

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Sam X Renick: This a question I ask everyone. It is the question I asked myself prior to creating Sammy Rabbit and entering the financial literacy industry. If you could only teach a child one money habit, WHAT money habit would you teach them? Please explain why.

Brian Dorcy:  Have a goal.  If you want something, make it a goal and be sure to start small.  By setting a goal you can experience a sense of accomplishment when it is achieved.  Accomplishing goals builds character because it normally requires a little sacrifice.  For example, while saving for a new bike, you may see a new video game you like.  You have to decide whether the bike is more important than the video game (the bike gets you outdoors).  


Renick: What memories do you have related to your first saving experience? 

Dorcy:  I remember at an early age my parents gave me an actual piggy bank.  I recall getting excited when I earned some money or even when I found loose change on the ground.  I’d add it to the piggy bank and watched as it got filled up.  At the time, I thought it was strange that a dime was much smaller than a nickel yet was twice as much in value.  

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Renick: Tell us about your first experience earning money? How old were you? What type of a job was it? How much did you earn? What did you do with the money? What did you learn?

Dorcy: I recall that the first job I had was mowing lawns in the neighborhood.  I was 13 at the time.  One of my brothers and I would spend our weekends mowing 3 to 5 laws for $10 each ($5 for each of us).  At the time I didn’t have a goal for the money I earned. So, I’d just spend it on junk food.  Over the course of time I realized I didn’t have anything to show for all the hard work I was doing.  


Renick: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?

Dorcy: See above

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Renick: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager and why?

Dorcy:  The smartest thing I did was set a goal.  When I was in high school I wanted to be able to get to and from school on my own so I wanted a scooter.  I worked at a local restaurant on weekends and when I was paid, I’d put the money into a savings account at a local credit union.  It felt good when I finally had enough to get the scooter.  


Renick: Did you work while you were in college? Please share a little about how working or not working while attending college affected you, your studies, and personal finance choices including student debt.

Dorcy:  I finished college while I was in the Air Force.  I would take courses at night and on weekends.  Fortunately, the Air Force paid for most of my tuition. So, I didn’t have student debt when I graduated.  Having a full-time job and going to college meant that it took me more time to finish.  It also meant I didn’t have a lot of free time.  Looking back and in talking to friends, the college campus experience is something I would have liked. I’d suggest to youngsters that they think about starting to save for college as soon as possible, either through a regular savings account or a tax-advantaged 529 plan. Saving early ensures that you have the best possible chance of enjoying the entire college campus experience when you are older. It also helps to keep your student debt levels low.

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Renick: At around what age did you realize "money was money" or that it had a value? Please share the circumstances or how the realization came about.

Dorcy:  I come from a large family (3 brothers and 2 sisters).  Even though my father was a military officer, we didn’t have a lot of money.  Hearing “we can’t afford that” occurred fairly frequently.  I knew from an early age (7 or 8 years old) that earning money was important to be able to get anything beyond the necessities.  


Renick: Cambridge University research indicates adult money habits are set by age 7. At what age do you believe parents should start teaching kids about money and why?

Dorcy:  I believe the earlier the better.  Kids understand at an early age (I agree with 7 or 8) that in order to get something, it normally requires money.  We all want our kids to be successful, so teaching them about personal finance and healthy savings habits are critical.


Renick: Did your parents talk to and teach you about money as a child? Please share a little about your experience on the topic while growing up. 

Dorcy: Having five siblings meant my parents had to budget wisely.  If my brothers and sisters and I wanted something that didn’t fit the budget, we had to find a way to earn enough to buy what we wanted on our own.  My dad would tell us to save enough for whatever we wanted and then wait a week or two before buying it.  In some cases, while I might have wanted something at one point, it became less important a couple weeks later.  They also talked about how good financial decisions start by being able to distinguish between what is necessary to have and what is nice to have.  


Renick: And, if you have children, are you talking to and teaching them about money? Please share a little regarding this.

Dorcy: When my daughter was younger I had a large glass jar that I’d throw loose change into.  That was her allowance which she could earn by doing chores or helping around the house.  When the jar started getting full, I would ask her to separate and count the coins, put them into rolls and take it to the credit union to add to her savings account.   


Renick: Why do you think it is important for kids and young people to learn about personal finance (and/or economics)?

Dorcy:  Life presents challenges and they are made all the more difficult to overcome when finances are a problem.  Learning how to prepare for challenges is important. Personal finance classes should be prioritized because they teach important life skills, like budgeting, that pay dividends for the students over their entire life. Someone who is bad at budgeting usually experiences money problems on a regular basis. Learning how to budget properly is a skill that can help you avoid money problems and improve your prospects for a more satisfying life.


Renick: Do you believe personal finance should or should not be taught in schools? Why do you believe there is not more personal finance being taught in schools? Please explain why or why not.

Dorcy: Absolutely, personal finance should be taught in schools.  I believe the reason it isn’t being taught as much as it should comes down to priorities for educators and parents.  


Renick: What is one of your favorite books on personal finance and/or economics? And, is there one lesson that stands out from the book?

Dorcy: While I don’t have a personal favorite personal finance book, I recently read Suze Orman’s “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke”.  One lesson that stands out is that putting money into your retirement account is more important than paying down debt sometimes.  And I like the quote: “Young people have the greatest asset of all on their side – time.”

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