Great Falls teenager gives financial advice to other teens

Whitman Ochiai, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, has a free podcast giving financial advice to his fellow teens. (Courtesy Whitman Ochiai)

Whitman Ochiai, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, thinks fellow teenagers need some financial advice, and he is giving it to any teen, or anyone else who wants to listen, for free.

Ochiai, a Great Falls resident, produces a weekly podcast with topics ranging from an introduction to taxes, to socially conscious purchasing, to tips for online shopping, and even a basic rundown on what the Federal Reserve is.

Ochiai, whose father is a surgeon and whose mother works for the federal government, got the idea for his podcast after the 35-day government shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019, the longest such shutdown in history.

“There were a lot of incidences and stories where people weren’t able to pay their rent. They weren’t able to buy food. They weren’t able to support their family. I was thinking, obviously I am just a kid, but by helping teach people about financial literacy, I could contribute to the solution,” Ochiai told WTOP.

His podcast is called Money Ed. It is free, and there are no advertisers. Ochiai said he has no interest in monetizing his financial tips.

The podcasts average two to four minutes each.

What is one of the biggest money mistakes Ochiai thinks teenagers make? Impulse purchases.

“It is really tempting to just buy stuff you don’t need because your friends have it or because you saw it in an ad. So before you buy something, think about whether or not you actually need it, and if you actually have a use for it,” Ochiai said.

He has many uniquely teen-focused tips, such as contributing to a Roth IRA, whose retirement withdrawals are tax-free, but whose upfront contributions are not pretax dollars.

“Many teens with a part-time job don’t earn enough money to pay federal income taxes anyway. So you literally get tax-free earnings,” he said.

At school, Ochiai is the editor-in-chief for Thomas Jefferson’s Podcast Network, and president of the Fairfax County school’s Financial Literacy Club.

He also tutors middle school students and plans to pursue economics and computer science in college.

And his hobbies include hiking and singing Italian opera.

Ochiai’s Money Ed Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and SoundCloud.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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