With an entrepreneur as a father, James Cunningham learned financial wits at an early age.
The Canadian comedian and host of the Food Network's Eat Street was at Confederation College Thursday showing students how to be financially savvy with his Funny Money presentation.
Through an interactive presentation, which included handing out some cash, Cunningham taught the crowd the three basic principles of the financial lecture - how to budget money, how to handle credit cards and credit score and how to invest in bonds and long-term savings.
"They're at this age where they're taking their first few steps into financial adulthood and when I talk to adults and say this is what I do, every adult says 'I wish I had that when I was back in school,'" said Cunningham.
The comedian started funny money after students would approach him after stand-up shows saying they related to his jokes about being financially responsible.
"Students would come up to me and say 'that joke is really funny. It's my life. I have three credit cards; I'm $17,000 in debt,'" said Cunningham.
He would write down advice on napkins telling them how to consolidate their debt and include his email address. He'd get replies saying his advice worked and he should teach people about saving money.
Funny Money started as a workshop at places like the college and now Cunningham takes the performance to about 100,000 students annually at schools across North America.
Student Union of Confederation College Inc. president Katie Arpin said they've had Cunningham on campus before with his Funny Money presentation and they thought he'd be a perfect fit for their college expo, where students could learn tips on all aspects of college life from health to budgeting.
Funny Money offers students insights on topics like interest rates that many students, especially ones right out of high school, many not even think about.
"With student debt nowadays, it's extremely hard for students to have that zero balance on their Visa, so we're just making sure our students understand don't spend more than you actually have or make," Arpin said.
"I think it's crucial for students to know because in the long run, it's all about saving money," she said.
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