Members of the audience look on during Chase’s financial education seminar (Photo credit: Sean Daniels)

When was the last time you went to your doctor for a check-up?

Many of us choose to take care of our bodies, as we should, assessing our health and taking responsibility for it.

Now, here’s a similar question: When was the last time you assessed your own financial health?  Any good habit takes a lot of time, practice and discipline. And as any good parent can attest, it’s more important — and sometimes harder — when it comes to getting our own kids to form a habit or healthy routine.

With responsibility for 1,000 Chase branches in California, I love getting our customers into healthy financial habits.

That’s why we hosted our very first community financial education seminar for young adults in Los Angeles. We invited young adults aged 16 to 24 from across Los Angeles to join us at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall.

We created the event to give tips and advice to young people on how to start saving early on. But we had to be creative, and engage speakers who could connect to the audience. So we invited a panel of local leaders and luminaries including Kevin Frazier, co-host of Entertainment Tonight, journalist and entrepreneur; Michael Lawson of the Urban League of Los Angeles; and Erick Carlson of Junior Achievement Los Angeles among others.

Kevin Frazier, Michael Lawson, Erick Carlson, George Weaver and Miles Warren (Photo credit: Sean Daniels)

We started with a simple question: Why is it important to save money?

Put yourself into the shoes of a young person today. And think about how important the answer is.  It can change the trajectory of your entire adult life. This is especially true when we read the news today.

The youngest American generations in or approaching adulthood –the Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1996) — will have less wealth, less property, lower marriage rates, fewer children, and less savings compared to any generation born since the Great Depression, the Wall Street Journal just reported.

Kevin Frazier, Michael Lawson, Erick Carlson, George Weaver, Miles Warren and Barry Simmons. (Photo credit: Sean Daniels)

Couple that news with a February USA Today story that reported that 44 percent of Americans have no retirement savings – and it’s 57 percent for African American households.

We owe it to our community to help the next generations earn financial success – and avoid adding to these grim statistics.

We want to help our youngest connect the dots and see how saving money can turn into a much larger and more important picture.  Of course, simply repeating “save money” over and over isn’t going to cut it. Nor will suggesting to any young person today to ditch their smart phone, do without the internet, , or stop hanging out with their friends.

The key to this discussion is to illustrate how saving money can turn into a much larger and more important picture.

Here’s some of their advice that we think clicked the most:

Members of the audience look on during Chase’s financial education seminar (Photo credit: Sean Daniels)

Invest in yourself. “Before you even start paying bills, make sure to put some money away,” says Miles Warren, of The Fellowship Institute. “It’s really key to put 10-20% to put it away. Have that money go somewhere where no one sees it.”

Pay yourself first. “You are your most important bill, when you think about electricity, phone bills, student loans, cars,” said Carlson.  As you get older, those two to three bills will turn into 10 or 15 bills.”

Pay attention to your spending.“Pay attention to the money you’re going to spend in one week,” said George Weaver of The Brotherhood Crusade. “Write it down and look at it. Whether it’s 10 bucks or a dollar. Write it all down. You might then look at it in one week and not realize you spend 80 percent of your money on food.”

Do your homework. “You’ve got to do a lot of research in order to make a good plan,” said  Frazier. “In the end, something will surprise you and your plan will get messed up but at least you will have a good understanding of what you’re doing which is what will make your plan better.”

Figure out your wants vs. needs. That makes it easier to handle scenarios we face all the time, said Lawson. “Once you know what your needs are, then you can decide what you want. Do you really want to go to that restaurant that our friend loves? Is that video game really all it’s cracked up to be?”

Over the next year, we at Chase plan to host similar events at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw and elsewhere in the area to help our neighbors – especially our youngest – get into healthy financial habits.