The inspiration for this blog post on how to teach college students about money came from my daughter.
No. She didn’t ask me to write a blog post about how to teach college students about money! In fact, as much as I wish she would read some of my blogs, she rarely does. (Hopefully, she reads this one because it’s been written for her.)
My daughter has very little interest in opening a business or, for that matter, in discussing business. My daughter is in university (college), going into her second year studying recreational therapy, which is about as far from the business world as you can get, and this summer her job is working with mentally and physically challenged children.
When she graduates, she wants to work with and help kids with cancer in some capacity.
My daughter is at an age where she’s trying to figure out her next steps in life, and with that comes the realization that living can be expensive. I’ve had many conversations with her over the years about how much it costs to support a family, how salaries vary depending on the job type, how to buy your first home or your first car, and so on.
It’s all very overwhelming when you’re just coming to the age where you begin to realize that – although your parents will always be there and will help in any way possible – ultimately, your future success will be dependent on what you can make for yourself, not what your parents can do for you.
Needless to say, I’ve had many money conversations with my daughter.
These conversations include a range of topics like:
- How do you apply for a credit card?
- What is a reasonable credit limit on your first credit card?
- What is a credit score?
- Why is it important to pay your credit card bill every month?
- What is a checking account?
- How do you save money?
- Where do you put your savings?
- How much should you be saving?
- How do you invest?
- What is a retirement account (RRSP, TFSA, 401(k), Roth IRA)?
- How much are taxes (way too much)?
- What is compound interest?
And so on. You get the point, though. The list of questions is endless.
When we first started having these conversations a few years ago, I was surprised that she hadn’t learned any of this in high school.
I thought one of the purposes of school was to prepare our youth for the “real world” and to get them ready for life beyond school. Certainly, a big part of living is paying for life, which includes understanding the answers to the questions I listed above.
I’m constantly baffled how our school system is failing our students on some of the fundamental finance 101 topics. Of course, it’s important that she takes all of the prerequisite math, history, English, science … courses, but inside the extensive list of dozens of elementary and high school courses, there isn’t a basic course on finance. And yes, I understand the role of the school isn’t to teach your kids to become rich, but, it should be to teach them the basic of money.
How is it that our school system is graduating our students from high school, and many of them have no idea how to balance a checkbook or, frankly, don’t even know what a checkbook is?
This isn’t a problem unique to high school students alone.
When I was president of the company I ran for 27 years, I conducted quite a few of our company’s quarterly lunch and learns, speaking specifically about investments, retirement accounts, savings, debt, compound interest, and so on.
Most of the information I covered was new to many of the people in the room, which is even more baffling because these weren’t high school students.
These were working, bright, extremely capable individuals, who, for the most part, wanted to create wealth for themselves and their families but were missing some of the fundamental knowledge required to even get started.
It’s no wonder that our population is so indebted and that so many individuals don’t even have enough dollars to their name to last more than a month in the event of a job loss.
Our school system is failing our students. Is it the role of the school to teach your kids to become rich?
So earlier this year, my daughter called me with some interesting information. One of her friends, who was a third-year business student at Dalhousie, the college she’s attending, had just finished reviewing – of all things – my book, The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing.
What’s even better is that once word got out amongst my daughter’s friends that I had written a book, there’s now a group of her friends that wants me to teach them finance 101. So this fall, I will be heading to Halifax to, of course, see my daughter. But while I am there, I will spend a few hours with a group of my daughter’s friends to teach them a few things about finances, investments, and how to get started.
How times have changed for me.
It wasn’t that long ago that my daughter was somewhat embarrassed by her dad. For those who are parents reading this blog post, you’ll know what I’m speaking about. But the tables have turned … my daughter now wants me to spend some time with her and her friends!
Of course, being a proud parent, I’m more than happy to oblige. Frankly, this isn’t even so much about doing this for my daughter. That’s a bonus of course.
But speaking (and writing) about small business, finance, real estate, money, and how to build a company is a topic I am extremely passionate about.
The question is where do I even begin?
I’m working with a group of motivated youth. Anyone who participates clearly wants to understand the basics of money, otherwise, they wouldn’t even bother attending.
What I am going to teach isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s not my gig.
For me to be effective, though, I want these students to have a basic fundamental knowledge of money. I essentially want to jump immediately past first grade and into eighth.
So, I have provided them with a list of three books on money and finance that I want each of them to have read before I even sit down with any of them. I’m suggesting that they read these books in order.
This blog post was written as much for my daughter (which is why I’m hoping she reads it) as much as it is for her friends who I will be helping. And for you parents who are also trying to figure out the basics of money, you can read some of these books, so that maybe you can teach your kids to become rich too!
These books are a start, though. Learning about money is a journey, one that many people study for a lifetime. For me, small business and money is passion, which is why I enjoy writing about it.
For most others, it’s a necessary means to an end. They want to save so they can stop working. I wanted to stop working so I could start writing about money and small business!
I’ve chosen for them to read and start with three books though. Yes, the more the better, but I’m being realistic with the ask. I’m not suggesting that these beginners read 20 books, watch 50 videos, and take 2 courses. So it’s not really me that going to teach the college students about money, it’s the books!!
What I am suggesting is that they begin with a foundation, and so I curated a selection of books that will take them along a journey:
- Why it’s important to invest (first book)
- How does a millionaire become a millionaire (second book)
- What are the basics of investing (third book)
All three books are easy reads, perfect for the beginner. Once they’ve finished these three books, in theory, they won’t even need me!
I thought through these books carefully, and here’s why I chose them, specifically in the order I suggest.
Three Finance Books Every Young Person Needs to Read
Book One: Why it’s important to invest
Pick one of the three, not all three.
The Wealthy Barber is mostly for Canadians. It was David Chilton’s first book and discusses RRSPs … and the other two are fine for Americans or Canadians.
Book Two: How does a millionaire become a millionaire
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley is an absolute must-read. If you’re going to read one book, this is it. It’s my personal favorite business book of all time. I’ve read it three times over the last many years.
Book Three: What are the basics of investing
Optional Book Four: The best finance book around is – my book! – The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing.
When I head to Halifax in mid-September, I plan to speak with my daughter and her friends about these books and answer their questions. I plan to do the work our school system has failed to do for our students, which has unfortunately resulted in a working population that doesn’t understand the basics of money, finance, or investing.
Yes, they understand history, sociology, math, and English, but why on earth we’re not teaching them the important life skill that every working adult needs throughout their life is beyond me.
If we were, it’s likely that the North American population wouldn’t be so indebted.
Hopefully, this will help them, though, and perhaps my suggestions will help you better understand how to teach college students about money, and in turn, teach your kids to become rich.
P.S. Are you a younger entrepreneur? Here’s another interesting article I wrote that you might be interested in:
By the way, and before you go, I write a weekly blog and focus on three things: 1. helping entrepreneurs expand their business, 2. improve profits, and 3. how to create wealth. You can subscribe here,
I published a book during the summer of 2018. It was number 1 on Amazon in both the business and non-fiction sections. You can get a free copy here.
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