This is a guest post by Teacher Man from My University Money
Hello fellow personal finance readers. I go by the pen name “Teacher Man” due to the fact that I recently graduated from university and am in my first year of teaching high school. My partner and I have recently started up a website aimed at helping young people (with a specific focus on post-secondary students) who are dealing with ‘the real world’ of personal finance and money management for the first time. The inspiration for our website came about when my partner and I were reminiscing about our time in university, and came to the conclusion that if we knew then what we know now, we would have been a lot better off. Thus, My University Money was born. Our goal is to help young adults and their families (or anyone for that matter) in their quest to learn how to succeed in their educational, financial, and career pursuits. I have been a long time reader of TFB and would like to thank him for the opportunity to write a guest post and share some insights with a larger audience than our meagre following!
As I stated above, I have followed The Financial Blogger for quite a while now, and it was through this blog and a few others that I became aware of the Yakezie network. This was a watershed moment in my journey through the world of managing my affairs as an adult. The amount of knowledge and wisdom I have subsequently found on the blogs and comment boards of the Yakezie members is truly astounding. It was only when I truly stopped to think about this that an idea came to me.
This is the first semester I have been fortunate enough to teach a business course in high school. It is a grade 10 general business course and it gives me a lot of freedom to choose my own topics and focuses. I had been looking forward to the opportunity because I thought that it would be easy to engage students with material that was obviously so relevant to their lives. While it hasn’t been as easy as I expected, I have had some success. When I first looked at the teaching materials for the course I was astounded to find the materials were terribly old, and the recommended curriculum was vague enough to be useless. Unfortunately this is not uncommon in the education world. At this point I set out to find some resources and put together a course that I thought would give students an introduction into the most important areas of personal finance. Luckily my principal is very ‘hands off’ and is fine with whatever I choose to teach as long as it semi-related to business and the students are learning something!
One day after looking through yet another textbook I thought was ok, but fairly mediocre, I realized that just about every single blog in the Yakezie network held more relevant information and advice than these textbooks. If I could somehow take out the most important ‘golden nuggets’ and channel the combined knowledge of the group, I figured I could put together a pretty comprehensive resource that was made by people more intelligent and well-educated than myself. As a bonus, it would be a great spot for people to learn something new, and possibly debate the relative importance of certain parts of personal finance.
I have patterned my course in large part on many of the themes that TFB and the rest of the Yakezie group write about weekly. I have also read a lot of personal finance literature and found that most personal finance books are more helpful than the textbooks currently on the market. Perhaps the best model I have come across so far has been, “The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton. His chapters and general approach to teaching personal finance have been very useful to me.
Before I briefly outline what my course currently focuses on I should probably explain that if you haven’t talked to a group of grade 10 students lately you might be quite surprised at what you find. The attention spans of today’s youth seem to be nanoseconds at times. They are incredibly good at multi-tasking simple jobs, and equally poor at focusing on any single concept. Without first showing them the personal connection to their immediate life you stand almost no chance of holding their attention for any length of time. These parameters often limit the course from venturing into specifics such as the importance of mutual fund fees for example, so concepts must be general enough to be easily grasped, yet specific enough to be practical. The eventual goal is to see just how all of you would organize the course if you had the freedom I have. I am challenging TFB and all of his readers to put their stamp on the education of today’s youth instead of just joining the age-old chorus proclaiming that, “Kids these days don’t have any common sense when it comes to work or money.”
Here is a brief description of how I currently structure the course:
1) The Importance and Uses of Money
Money can be used to purchase things, as a store of wealth, or as capital to produce more money. It is merely a tool.
2) The Fundamentals of Earning Money
What are the different ways people earn money? We look at jobs, deductions from a pay cheque, taxes, renting, buying and selling for profit, and “Investment Income” which I leave pretty vague until chapter 4.
3) Budgeting and Basic Personal Banking
Sometimes I forget how taboo money is in a lot of families. Many of these students have no idea how to manage money other than, “You spend until you don’t have any left and then you work harder to get more.” Interestingly enough, if our government and certain individuals stuck to that basic premise we would be way better off than we are today!
The kids learn that just because a job advertises at $10-per hour, this doesn’t mean you will get $80 in your hand at the end of a work day. They learn how to budget monthly and annually. Finally, they learn how credit cards can be pure evil or great little tools, and we touch on some of the other options of modern banking.
4) Saving and Investing
What is the difference between putting your cash in a mattresses and putting it in a chequing account or savings account? The kids then learn about the intense power of compound interest and how it can make them rich, or poor forever. We briefly look at average return on investment rates of each of the asset classes. Everyday I drill home the, “Pay yourself 10%” mantra that is cliché for good reason!
I also like to do an interesting exercise where we look at how much a pack of cigarettes a day costs. We take the money that we would have spent on cigarettes and put it in various types of investments. The kids are always amazed to see that they could be a millionaire by 60 if they juts put their smoking money into basic bonds. I don’t really let them in on the dirty secret that due to inflation that million isn’t what they think it is, I prefer to focus on the anti-smoking, pro-saving lesson.
How insurance works and the principles of shared risk/risk management. We go into detail on life, car, house, disability, medical etc.
6) Macroeconomic Basics – Supply and Demand and Inflation
This is where you start to lose a lot of kids. I just try to give them a very superficial understanding of economics so they can begin to understand the world around them. My theory is that if I can give them the terminology, and some essentials, then learning about more complex economic issues, or just reading the business section of the newspaper won’t seem so intimidating.
7) How a Business Works
We try to look at a lot of case studies. I live in a rural area so farms usually make for great examples of logistics, sales versus expenses, borrowing to invest, economy of scale, marketing, world demand, payroll, capital costs and some interesting tax situations.
8) “Through the Eyes Of an Entrepreneur”
As a treat (usually on Friday afternoons) the kids get to watch various episodes of Dragon’s Den (Canadian version). I will pause the show when the initial pitch gets made so the kids have to figure out the valuation of the company and make some predictions. This has unwittingly become a great teaching tool because the kids are so engaged! The end of the year project is going to consist of them coming up with a product and business plan of their own, to pitch to 5 teachers/dragons. I have really high hopes that the kids will get some ‘authentic’ learning from this that they will actually remember because of the hands-on experience.
Ideally I would like to get into some more macroeconomic stuff, but that gets pretty tough with grade tens. I would also like to show them more about how the stock market works, but again, it seems students really have a tough time grasping it. It’s appears too abstract to them.
So, now is your chance to directly influence the financial education that someone will be receiving! Let me know what your suggestion is and why it is so important, and I guarantee it will be taken into consideration.
|How I Suck at Not Paying Debts||Hitting 6 Figures Income at 28|
|How I Get a Huge Income Raise Each Year||Making $125K Online in 12 months|
|How I Buy Blogs||Most Debated Articles: The Primerica Saga|
|How I Have Survived My MBA||What is So Wrong With Making Money?|
|How I run multiples blogs and makes money without burning out|