I often get the question “Why did you start Next Gen Personal Finance?” It usually comes after I describe an eclectic career which has found me driving shredding trucks, analyzing executive compensation packages and making investment decisions at a mutual fund company. To answer the question, you have to start with the man who would have celebrated his 88th birthday yesterday. He was raised during the Depression and forced to the countryside when the Nazis bombed his home city of London during the Battle of Britain. He didn’t talk much about his childhood yet it was easy to see how these events were seared into his psyche and explained his frugal nature.
Our first savings lesson focused on four learning objectives:
- Importance of saving
- Power of compound interest
- Understanding different types of savings accounts
- How to make saving automatic
Here is a summary of this lesson which will be part of a 24 hour curriculum that Sonia is currently packaging and will release later this spring. I provide this summary in case you are teaching savings now and looking for some ideas to supplement what you are currently doing:
Put this in the category of “not so current events.” Something about my impending birthday has me getting nostalgic for the “good ole days.” I stumbled across this trove of videos from the 1940s which would have been the financial advice that my teenage Mom would have been given. Here are some of the highlights that I thought you would enjoy (with questions):
- Keeping a Budget: Your Thrift Habits (it’s 10 minutes long, but the first five minutes will give you plenty to discuss):
- How was Ralph able to buy his camera?
- What was the budget method that worked for Ralph (full disclosure: this was how I kept track of my newspaper route revenues)? How did he track his progress toward saving for his camera?
- Is it easy to make a budget work? Why or why not?
- What are Jack’s sources of income?
- What are Jack’s regular expenses? irregular expenses?
- Why did Jack find it difficult to save?
- What would be on your list of “Watch these expenses?”
- Identify an item that you would like to save for and break it down to how much you need to save per week.
I am so proud of the NGPF team (Jessica, Sonia, Laura, Ren, Sid and Niko) that has worked feverishly to deliver a revamped Saving Unit that we released tonight. Why do we continue to revamp our lessons? The short answer can be found in our culture of continuous improvement as we are always looking for ways to make our lessons stronger (your feedback is critical in this process). Here is the longer answer:
As educators, we know the power of storytelling in the personal finance classroom. What better way to bring an abstract or dry topic like compound interest to life than to explain how $10,000 you invested in your IRA in your 20s was now worth $30,000 today due to gains in the stock market compounded over many years. There is even research that shows that student recall concepts better when told as a story as compared to a lecture (from Bryant and Harris):
The use of storytelling allows lecturers to engage students in a dynamic and enthusiastic way while encouraging students to develop a higher order of thinking and recollection. Storytelling allows the lecturer to show their interest in the material and in the students. Lectures can utilize the art of storytelling to communicate expertise and transfer information. This paper empirically examines the effectiveness of storytelling as a means of increasing student intrigue and recollection. We find that students recall a statistically significant 6.5% more of the storytelling lecture than those students who were exposed to the text book lecture.
Yet the focus when we talk about stories is usually on the teacher and yet…students have their stories and advice to share also. I was reminded of that today at Eastside College Prep., where we are beginning our 6-week course with the senior class. The discussion was about savings and why it can be so difficult to save. A student shared how she had a weak spot for her “hobbies” which she described in further detail with one word: shoes. I dug a bit deeper to understand more about her habits and she proceeded to say something along the lines of this:
Thanks to Allan Roth for recently joining the NGPF podcast. I got to know Allan a few years ago when I needed an advisor to help me “tune-up” my portfolio. I appreciated his candor, his analytical chops, his thoughts on asset allocation, his laser focus on fees and his willingness to challenge some of my assumptions. One of his best suggestions was that I create an investment policy statement which serves as a guide to my asset allocation during those turbulent market conditions that try mens’ (and womens’) souls. He wrote a provocative book that I recommend, How A Second Grader Beats Wall Street, which describes the simple strategies needed to be a successful investor (you will find out exactly who this wise second grader is during the podcast). Listen to this podcast and you’ll walk away with some ideas to make you a better investor. Enjoy!
I had the Honorable John Ninfo on my podcast recently who described his “Scared Straight approach” to teaching young people about the perils of credit. He saw the consequences in the decades he served as a Bankruptcy Court judge in the state of New York. After looking at this infographic from the WSJ and the accompanying article, the overwhelming evidence is that we should be employing similar scare tactics to the topic of retirement planning because we better hope that the next generation is better prepared for taking on this responsibility: