In this edition of our Changemaker series we interviewed Rahul Rangaraaj, a leader and director of clubs at StreetFins. StreetFins is an entirely student run company that aims to demystify the seemingly complex world of finance. Rangaraaj is a senior at Mission High School in Fremont, California.

India Currents: How did you get involved with StreetFins? 

RR: I started off with StreetFins in 2020, when co-founder Rohan Gupta was going off to college and needed someone to fill in his spot. He had reached out to me when I had led a previous organization where I was doing similar work in regards to financial education. We found synergy in working with each other and decided to merge our clubs together to form StreetFins.

IC: How did you begin your journey of investing? 

RR: Coming from the Bay Area, every big company is here and everyone’s parents work at big tech companies. Through this, the majority of conversations are about stocks. Even from an early age, I was surrounded by talks of stocks, how the markets are doing, and this sparked my general interest in the area. I soon learned that instead of letting your money sit in a bank account diminishing over time due to inflation, you can put your money in the stock market where it can earn solid returns. I was intrigued by the idea of watching your money work for you. 

I quickly realized that a lot of my peers, friends, and classmates didn’t really know as much but still wanted to get into it. Everyone’s attracted by the glitz and glamor. However, you soon realize that there’s a lot going on and not everyone has the time and patience to learn about the market. This causes you to rush head on into making mistakes. I figured if I can do something to solve this, then that would be pretty cool. 

IC: A 2021 Global Financial Literacy Survey shows that only 38% of the global population is financially literate, and 62% of Americans worry about their finances. With these statistics in mind, how do you believe that we begin to spread awareness towards this problem of financial illiteracy? 

RR: It’s based on those numbers that StreetFins is inspired to do what we do everyday. We believe that the reason there’s so many people who don’t understand the basics of financial literacy is due to the way that it is presented.

Most sources produce content that is presented as too complex and not engaging enough. Even if it’s accessible, there are still a lot of limitations out there. The content itself is filled with industry jargon: stuff you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve already been surrounded by the finance space. 

That’s why at StreetFins, we simplify everything while making it free and accessible to everyone. We aim to make it so that the basic person who doesn’t know anything beyond reading can take away from our lessons. 

When you’re trying to get content in the hands of people you’re targeting, you need to write in a way that’s engaging for them. That’s why we have our focus on “by high schoolers for high schoolers.” We create content that’s tailor made for the people we’re trying to help. 

RR: I don’t look up to any financial influencers. I just prefer to look at the numbers. Time and time again, people have said a lot of things and made a lot of noise. But at the end of the day, they’re just people and people are only looking out for themselves. Whereas numbers you can look at them and understand them without being manipulated in any way. I’m a very facts-first kind of person, and just with that I don’t believe in the financial influencer type of thing. 

IC: Do you recommend any media sites in particular to gain financial knowledge outside of StreetFins? 

RR: I really enjoy the Motley Fool. They are another publication company that focuses on stock analysis. They really stick to the numbers rather than adding their own opinion and spin on it. I know it’s very hard for anyone to keep their opinions out of it, since it just creeps in without being aware. They do a good job of presenting just the facts. I think everyone should look to similar sources outside of the financial world.

Overall, with the news/media outlets out there it’s very easy to take facts and spin them. Especially when you’re trusting this information with things such as your bank account. You want to be more careful and aware. I think it’s important to use sources that only give you the bare facts, and leave it to yourself to interpret them in whichever way you think is the right and the best way to go about it. Following these sources keeps everyone just a little bit safer.

Vyom Mishra is a financial writer. He attends American Heritage School's Broward campus