Mutual Funds

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Laura’s Insights: NGPF in the Classroom!

This year, NGPF took our show on the road and taught personal finance workshops in several local schools.  These experiences included a 3 day workshop at the Nueva School (San Mateo), a four session workshop at Castilleja school (Palo Alto), seven sessions with an AVID classroom at Mountain View High School (Mountain View) and our intensive 6 week workshop at Eastside Prep (East Palo Alto). In this post, I will share my experiences at the Castilleja School, an all-girls school just down the road from our office.

Given the time constraints (only 4 sessions), I modified our recently released 8-Hour Workshop and focused on Paying for & Budgeting During College, Understanding Debt & Credit, Why Credit Scores Matter and finishing with a Crash Course in Investing.

In each of the sessions, the girls engaged with the content and asked many great questions. Here were some of my highlights:

Resource Lists for Financial Educators (courtesy of Barbara O’Neill of Rutgers Cooperative Extension)

What does a distinguished professor do during her sabbatical? Curate personal finance resources, of course! In this blog post, Barbara O’Neill shares the fruits of her hundreds of hours of labor in putting together three awesome resource lists (see bottom of post for links to her lists), including what what she considered the “best of the best” from the NGPF library. As she describes below, the purpose of her odyssey was to replenish her “well” of creative learning activities. I hope that your “well” overflows as you find resources that will work in your classroom. Thank you Barbara for this tremendous gift to the community! Your commitment and dedication to improving financial literacy in this country inspires us.

Web Quest: How Do I Buy A Stock (Or Better Yet, An Index Fund)?

A teacher at our recent FinCamp reminded me that we should not forget about the importance of the mechanics of personal finance transactions. What good is teaching students about the importance of investing if they don’t know how to go about setting up an account to buy/sell investments. While we have a activities on how to select a credit card and a bank account, we don’t answer the basic question that many young investors have which is “How do I buy a stock?”

Rather than answer this question for them, have students do their own online research to discover:

Videos: What’s New In Investing?

  • Warren Buffett’s Million Dollar Bet: Who’s Winning (from MarketWatch)?
    • What’s the bet?
    • What’s a hedge fund? What’s an index fund?
    • Who’s winning? Why?
    • Why should this matter to you as a regular investor? What’s the lesson?
  • Fee war breaks out on commissions to trade stocks (from CNBC):
    • How much are brokerage fees going down? Is this good news for investors?
    • Why do you think the online brokerage stocks are falling with this news?
    • Do you think investors will change brokers based on these cost reductions?

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 finviz.com comes this great visualization of the S&P500:

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

Having Fun With Investing Cartoons

Here are three cartoons focused on investing and a few questions for your students to ponder:

  • What is happening in the cartoon?
  • What is the motive of the cartoonist?
  • What lessons can you glean from these cartoons to help your financial life?

060-investing-cartoon

In this case, the experts are right! Check out this NGPF Activity on Compound Interest. Create an activity to see what happens when parents invest in college saving or 529 plans when their children are born. 

By |February 15th, 2017|Cartoons, Investing, Mutual Funds, Teaching Strategies|

Ways To Make Investing Simpler

I have been thinking a lot about this issue of how to make investing simpler. I hear from teachers that this is a real pain point for them. I can see in the NGPF podcast stats that the most popular guests tend to be conversations about investing (Mike Finley, Jonathan Clements and Vanguard’s Jim Rowley to name a few). Then this weekend the lightbulb went off. I was heading to the coast listening to Charlie Ellis on the Masters In Business podcast (kinda dorky I know). Those of you not familiar with Charlie Ellis, he is probably the best investment management thinker you have never heard of. Charlie has played a role in two of the juggernauts of modern day investing, the Yale endowment and Vanguard Investments (the king of indexers just crossed $4 billion (I mean TRILLION!)). Oh, and he was an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway too (Warren Buffett’s company)!

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: