Want to become smarter with your money? Mentor someone else.
Ted Gonder was a student at the University of Chicago when he and his friends decided to teach financial education to the kids living in the neighborhoods of the south side of Chicago. Once they saw positive results, they began setting up formal programs to help teach kids about money. As they saw great results, Moneythink was born, and Ted became the first CEO of the non-profit. Fast forward a few years and now they’re not only working on technology to help their growing student relationships, but he’s also working with the President of the United States and the Department of Education to create better opportunities for his mentorships. It’s an idea that’s picking up steam.
Today’s interview raises some great points. What are YOU doing to help educate those around you? How are YOU working in your community to help raise the level of discussions about finance. This is an inspirational interview that’ll have you ready to jump in and get working!
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<> Ted Gonder, Moneythink
The Moneythink Website: Moneythink.org
Ted’s Personal Website: TedGonder.com
Great interview! I’m involved. Just joined a high school committee and one of my golas is to bring financial literary to our students.
That’s so exciting. I love this movement….congrats on stepping up!
Done by Forty
I’m sure I sound like a curmudgeon, but I’m not a big believer in financial education programs. Or, maybe I just don’t think they’re really a solution, per se. Even when equipped with financial education, many (most?) people still regularly make poor financial decisions. And there’s some not-great data on the efficacy of these personal finance programs.
Which all goes to say, while a lot of our nation is financially illiterate, I don’t think the real problem is the lack of knowledge.
Of course you sound like a curmudgeon! That said, I think the problem for me is there isn’t ENOUGH surround sound, so a one-off financial education program doesn’t stick. I think reinforcement (as Ted discussed….being there WHEN the teachable moment happens, not in some sterile environment before/after) is the key.
I’m with you that the problem isn’t knowledge alone. Cheryl works with people on government assistance often and says it’s amazing how good some people are at gaming the system, and if they worked as hard getting ahead as they did finding free lunches, they’d be wealthy. That’s not to say that everyone on government assistance is playing games. I have family members who’ve struggled hard to get off the government support system, as I’m sure is the case with most people…..
It’s amazing that there is no sort of requirement for financial literacy in schools. Last formal education I had on the subject (not including economics in college), was in elementary school — learning how to write in checkbooks — not exactly relevant. I never learned about budgeting, interest, credit cards, mortgages, equity, or any level of basic personal economics. I taught myself everything I know about finance after already being an adult and being thrown into it — being raised in a frugal but ‘penny smart, dollar dumb’ family, I had a lot to learn about proper budgeting and saving. I probably could have beefier savings by now if I didn’t have such hard lessons to learn and hadn’t gotten myself in so much student loan debt.
I consider myself financially literate *enough* by now and still dealing with consequences from bad financial decisions years later. But my god, I know a lot of peers that have no idea what they’re doing still. I wish programs like this would have come to my community and high school. I have a lot of peers either living off of their parents still, or not knowing very basic things — like why your credit report is important and that you should pay your bills. (I had a friend recently say he wasn’t going to pay X bills. His reasoning: what are they going to do about it?!)
Wow! That’s scary. Your friend is digging an incredible hole. Talking to Ted and Gene Natali (he was on our show about 18 months ago), they both know that more could be done, but they’re encouraged to see states adopting financial education programs in the classroom. It’s a long time coming, and sadly, probably not fast enough.
I’m with you, though….it was so, so hard to figure out basic financial stuff on my own. I made tons of mistakes that probably cost me a decade…chasing a few dollars instead of making the big, life changing decisions because I had zero tools.