The FED Raised Interest Rates At Their Last Meeting…How Much Will That Cost Credit Card Revolvers (in Billions)?

Answer (from MarketWatch based on NerdWallet analysis): $1.6 billion

From MarketWatch:

The Federal Reserve raised its target range for federal funds by a quarter percentage point to 0.75%-to-1% on Wednesday, and signaled two more rate increases in 2017. Put another way, this increases how much banks will be charged to borrow money from Federal Reserve banks. (The Fed raises and lowers interest rates in an attempt to control inflation.)

I know some of you are trying to figure out how that decision from the Federal Reserve translates into higher costs for credit card revolvers. Here is the transmission mechanism:

By |March 21st, 2017|Credit Cards, Current Events, Math, Question of the Day|

Spreadsheet Math: Two Investments Walk Into A Classroom…

Ok, not the best title but let’s run with it. Let’s start with a question:

You have a choice between two investments of $100,000:

  • Investment #1: Earns a consistent 8% return every year (put aside the fact that an investment like this doesn’t exist at the current time; it’s been a while since you could buy a 30 year Treasury Bond with that kind of return).
  • Investment #2: Has an average return of 8% per year but has “lumpier returns” aka it has more volatile returns but the returns each year are in the top 10% of fund returns. Some years it is up, some years it is down, but overall it averages the same 8% return as Investment #1.

Which investment has a higher balance at the end of the 20 year period?

Interactive: What’s the S&P500?

Here’s a great interactive for students who struggle with the concept of the S&P500 or of an index or mutual fund. For a math teacher, this interactive would be percentage heaven! I blogged about this in October 2014 when most of you were NOT reading this blog so definitely worthy of a repeat post. I have added better questions for your students to answer too. From comes this great visualization of the S&P500:

Here’s a description of what you are looking at:

Finance in My Life: What If That Savings Bond Was An Index Fund?

I was cleaning out an old drawer and thought this might be be a fun exercise for those who want to bring some math into their classroom and also compare the returns on stocks and bonds:


I received this savings bond in April, 1980 for winning an essay contest put on by the local Elks Club. The topic: Patriotism in America. This was the time of the Iranian Hostage crisis and I remember writing about how local communities were supporting the hostages and their families in so many ways. This discovery had me wondering about  a few things:

By |March 5th, 2017|Current Events, Index Funds, Investing, Math, Research, Stocks|

Question: Who Has The Best Cell Phone Plan?

We know your students love their smartphones. How about putting that obsession to use by having them read this article from the NY Times “Picking a New Phone Plan? Here Are Your Best Bets?” As the article notes, every few months the carriers update their pricing models (check out our earlier posts on the topic here and here):

Shopping for a phone plan can be as daunting as picking a health insurance package. The rates and options constantly change, and it feels impossible to make simple comparisons between carriers. Case in point: The best phone plans we recommended a year and a half ago are now obsolete because the wireless carriers have completely changed their offerings.

The article goes on to highlight the “best plans” for different types of users: Single User, Single Power User, Average Couple, Power Couple, Family of Four, Occasional Traveler. Here are some ideas on how you can structure this as an activity for students to discuss with their parents or guardians (copied from an earlier post):

Activity Idea (with Spreadsheets): Let’s Make An Index Fund

I awoke this morning thinking “how can you make index funds more tangible for students?” Why do I care about this? Anyone who has heard my rantings before either in this blog or on the NGPF podcast knows that I abhor the Stock Market Game. It teaches all the wrong lessons about investing: the short term nature of it, the “luck” factor, the highest risk strategy wins and so on. At some point, I will create a game to counter these lessons that is focused on index funds. The trick is how to make it appealing to a risk-seeking teen audience who loves the “action” of buying and selling stocks. Unfortunately good investing isn’t really about “action”, my buddy Allan Roth has it right when he says, as investors we should “dare to be dull.”

So, here’s the kernel of the idea: Have students take on the role of an investment manager hired to do the following:

Personal Finance In My Life: Calculator Deflation

Shopping at the Half Moon Bay Ace Hardware (with the most helpful associates ever!), I came across this basic Sharp calculator for $5.99:


By |December 18th, 2016|Budgeting, Current Events, Math, Purchase Decisions, Question of the Day|

Question: How Much Income Does A Household Need To Be In Top 1%?

A good interactive from CNN to stimulate discussion in your classroom and infuse some math too (hat tip to a teacher at JumpStart National Conference who pointed this out to me; sorry that I didn’t catch his name:). As you move the slider bar on the left, the point of the graph moves up to show the percentile ranking:


  • Questions: