June 26, 2014
Teaching young people about investing tends to not have much lasting impact. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this sad fact and how we might change it. Obviously, the first step is to offer classes, and the next is to make the information relevant, provoking conversation among students that they consider important.
The day this newsletter is sent to you, I will be speaking at the Master Financial Educator’s Conference at Olympic College, addressing 50 or more Washington State high school teachers who teach financial literacy as part of their curriculum.
The title of my keynote is “10 Life-changing investment lessons for high school students.” My focus is encouraging teachers to concentrate on 10 decisions students will make that will change their life, and find ways to excite them about the importance to their lives.
These lessons go far beyond financial education to life skills and learning how to make smart choices, as the life we create is based on the decisions we make at each fork in the road. Every decision is made with choices. As adults, we tend to make them intuitively, based on biases acquired over years; and they are often wrong. Young people, on the other hand, can have the advantage of being open and starting fresh to make good choices from the beginning.
For example, the first of the 10 lessons regarding finances is whether to spend or save. The students will make this decision millions of times in their life. Whether they choose to save or spend will change their future. We know this to be true, but what is the motivation to save when you’re 15 or 18 years old? How do you get young people to be excited about the difference between having accumulated $100,000 or $2 million when, from their teenage perspective, both are huge sums?
When working directly with students, I ask them to make list of the people who want them to save for the future. Why do they want you to save? The list inevitably includes those nearest and dearest (normally mom, dad, grandma and grandpa), and the answer, “because they love me and want me to have the best life possible.” Then I ask them to list the people who want them to spend. Why do they want you to spend? The answers are obvious, and have nothing to do with love or concern for you.
We say we want our children to save, but are we setting that role model? My sense is that if they can see how this works for those who love them, if they can be motivated by love, and if they can understand why saving is important to their future, such lessons in investing will have a long and lasting impact.
If you have a young person in your life – or are getting started on investing no matter what age! – I invite you to visit my website and get your free copy of “First-Time Investor: Grow and Protect Your Money.”
To your success,