HARLINGEN — Invest early.

That’s the message Constantine Poulos extended Wednesday during his presentation at the Financial Literacy Summit.

“I presented about ROF IRAs and traditional IRAs,” said Constantine, 17, a senior at Harlingen High School South.

“Those are retirement funds you can invest in when you start working and you can build up as you go on,” he said.

Constantine and six other classmates gave individual presentations on different topics related to financial literacy at the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory. Three other Harlingen schools also gave presentations: Harlingen High School, Early College High School and Harlingen School of Health Professions.

“They’ve been preparing since October,” said Bertha Garza, executive director for the Building Financial Capacity Coalition, which organized the event.

Garza said schools in Brownsville, Port Isabel, Santa Rosa and La Feria would also compete in separate summits. Their presentations are being videotaped for judges who will announce first, second and third place winners next month.

“The students, they’re so bright and they’ve learned not only the topic they’re presenting but from different modules from the FDIC Money Smart,” Garza said. “That’s the product that we use.”

FDIC stands for Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC Money Smart financial education program seeks to help people of all ages build their financial skills.

“We use a lot of others because we have members that help us teach, and so they bring to the training their resources and they share,” Garza said. “What’s unique about this program is the students come up with the ideas, the creativity, whatever, to present to other kids.”

Makayla Amitrani told listeners that insurance is an important part of preparing for their future.

“It is necessary when buying a car, a house or insuring your life,” said Makayla, 18. “The theory of decreasing responsibility says that early in a person’s life they need more coverage but they may not have a lot of money. In the later years of your life you may not need as much coverage but you may have more money.”

She was pleased with the success of the summit.

“It was hard work but we have a good team and I think we did pretty good,” said the Harlingen South senior.

And Makayla’s main message to young listeners?

“Starting off now and looking at your credit and retirement policies and things your future job can offer you.”

In previous years, the summit has been live to an auditorium filled with students. This year’s work will be broadcast to students throughout the district.

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