Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

HI.  It’s been a while.  I’ve received a lot of mail from readers, fellow writers, and friends about what happened with F4Y, and I feel that it is only fair to address what has been, and where, if anywhere, F4Y is going in the future.

I while back, we suffered the loss of the most important part of the Finance For Youth family.  At the time, I had to put everything I had into doing whatever I could to save the situation, but in the end it wasn’t enough.  I disappointed my readers, my fans, and my friends.  For that, along with many other things surrounding all of this, I’m truly sorry.  Since then, we have been on hiatus, while I determined whether or not F4Y deserved to go back online. The truth is, I’m still not sure.

The truth is, I’m still not sure…,

I think the information in F4Y:TB is still valid, and as important as ever.  I’m just questioning whether I need to be the person who puts out that information.  I’ve been contacted by a few interested parties about the possibility of allowing someone else to control the future of F4Y, which would allow me to stay out and continue with other things.  I’m also considering shuttering F4Y permanently.  Finally, there is a possibility that I might, with a little more time, come back and rebuild F4Y.  I’m not exactly sure which way I’m going, But I think I need some input, or even the lack of input, to tell me how viable and relevant F4Y still is.  Please take a few seconds to leave a comment about what you would like to see happen.  If, as I suspect, there are no comments, that also tells me where you want to see F4Y go.

Thank you, for your continued support and patience,

Wil Stanton
Founder,
Finance For Youth

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A couple of days ago, a young student approached me and asked me for some career advice. The student wanted to understand a little more about what banking and finance is about, and how it measures up in terms of their “dream job“. I was very impressed with this young student, because unlike many of their peers, they were actually trying to look at their future and start planning. This student, to be fair, is part of an advanced group of students. They get tutoring as part of their regular school day, they have additional instruction in note-taking and other study skills, and they are in advanced Math and English classes. They have a leg up over many students already. This young person seemed to have a leg up on even this group.

There was another teacher in the room at the time, who had worked in a similar field in her younger years, and we both shared some of the upsides and downsides, many of the really funny incidents, and some of the sad, sobering, almost depressing parts of our former jobs. See, no job is truly perfect. There are some good parts and bad parts, and much of adult life is about learning to deal with the bad parts while preparing for, waiting for, and whenever possible working to create the good parts.

And while just that much would have been a good enough lesson, that isn’t the main point of this post.

If you have been doing your job as a parent or concerned party of a young person, there is likely to be a point where they will ask you about career advice themselves. How you respond, what you say and how you say it, and your timing are crucial.

Once a young person asks your advice about future careers, they are putting the trust of their future in your hands!

So how do you respond?

“Follow your bliss!”

Some parents think this is great advice. They want their children to be happy in whatever they do. I’m not going to say that this approach doesn’t have any merit because I know that all parents want their children to be happy. Hell! I’m not even a parent, and I want other people’s children to be happy in their career. Happy people generally don’t make as many mistakes, and tend to do their jobs much better overall than their less happy peers. If that’s all it takes to be able to go to Taco Bell and not get my order screwed up or just ugly, then follow that bliss.

But there is a slight downside. For many kids, their bliss is playing video games or taking obnoxious pictures of themselves for Facebook. True, with a little creativity and some luck, you can make a career out of either of those, but neither has that ring of career aspirations that would make a parent proud.


 

“Follow the family!”

Okay, if “the family” is really The Family, I’m staying out of this argument altogether! But assuming that we’re talking about parents like my mom, who truly believe that following in the family business or doing the same job as your parents is a good thing, there’s a lot to be said for this method too. There is nothing wrong with upholding the traditions of your family, taking advantage of the skills and training from what may be generations of people who have done a job with love and with pride. I kind of like to believe that I’m in my family’s business as a teacher because my grandfather was a teacher in his home country. I get that I’m probably stretching a bit, but it makes me feel good.

But what if, like me with my mom, the family business just isn’t a good fit? Even if I went into my mom’s business of nursing and caring for the sick, that isn’t me either. One of my brothers works construction. He has three daughters that all together probably don’t have the upper body strength required to do what he does, plus it isn’t a very feminine job, and his daughters are very feminine girls. Should they, and I, have taken a job that we don’t enjoy? Even if it means that we will suck at it and embarrass the very people we were trying to please by doing the job in the first place?

“What’s important to you?”

The way I approached my student was to ask what was important to them. What are they looking for in a career? We also talked about what skills they felt they might want to strengthen. As we talked, I was able to throw a few different ideas their way, and as what they said changed, I was able to change my suggestions to fit their evolving priorities. Keeping in mind that this student is very young, and their priorities will change several times between now and when they become an adult, it was more important to get them to think in terms of what they want out of a job than it was to try to stuff them in a hole that might become a bad fit later on.

Is there a downside to this? Sure, I guess that the student might have felt a little unfulfilled when they came to a trusted advisor with the hopes of getting a concrete suggestion. I guess that walking away from a conversation where you hope to get answers with nothing but more questions can be annoying. I’m okay with that because this student needs the opportunity to decide things about themselves before they are going to be ready to plop down for a career that might last them the rest of their lives.

I don’t know why, but as I was having my conversation with my student, I kept thinking that someday they’d be alright.  Of course, one of my favorite songs about someday is this one, and while it is a sad song, and possibly a little depressing, I’ve always enjoyed it and I hope you do too.  Enjoy!

 

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I was talking with a co-worker the other day about teaching kids about money. She mentioned that she had problems getting her child to save money. In her experience, getting her child to save worked only when she and her child would fight. Her child wouldn’t save on its own, money given was almost instantly money spent, and her child had even lied to her about how much money her child would earn or be given. She was frustrated that she, a teacher, wasn’t able to teach her children the importance of smart money management. So she threw the question at me:
 

How do I make my kids save money?
 

Before we get to the answer, let’s look at what we are dealing with. First, let me say that I’m not talking about EVERY person in EVERY situation, but many people in this particular situation. If this isn’t you, congratulations! You are ahead of many of your friends. If this is you, don’t feel too bad about it, most of your friends who deny that this is them are lying to themselves anyway.

Any parent will tell you that you can’t make your child do anything. They’ll tell you stories going back in their children’s history about toilet training (or housebreaking, as I like to think of it- not a breeder), or getting their children to eat the right foods, or even about sleep patterns. These parents, after fighting for almost half a decade just to get their children to the point where they can function at school, often give up trying to teach about money and hope their children will pick up money skills somewhere else.

Then we send our children off to school where many teachers do their absolute best to get their charges to learn the absolute basics needed to move on to the next level. This is where I currently come into the picture. Let me give you a little picture of what kids are dealing with today.

Kids are given a worksheet for “Cornell Notes” that is pre-printed with much of the information they need to know already filled in.
The rest of the notes are displayed on an overhead projector with the teacher telling kids “Write down where your notes say subtopic that calls for random bullet point>.”

In English and History classes, kids are no longer required to READ FROM THE BOOK!! That was so big it deserved two exclamation points. When many parents were in school, you had to read from the book. Now, textbook publishers include .mp3 files or cd’s with all the reading so a teacher can just play the file and the kids just sit and read.

In many districts and schools, teachers are required to teach a specified list of topics by the state, leaving little to no room for financial topics.
Many teachers would love to teach many different topics. For several reasons, whether it’s about money, time, experience of the teacher in different skill-sets, or whatever else, we too often run out of time with your children before we run out of mandated education topics.

At the end of the 12 years of mandated education, we are lucky if we did our job and created an adult that is ready to function in society at large, hold down a job, and maybe even move on to higher education (if we’re lucky)!
 

Still not hearing solutions, Stanton!

This is where it gets a little more difficult. The key to making financial education for kids easy is catching them when they are young. My friend had a kid that was a little older, so she has to come up with other solutions. Here are a few. Some are going to be more difficult than others, and some are going to seem too far outside of your parenting philosophy. Hey! I’ve never claimed to have the only answers. If you have something that works better, or even something different that also works, feel free to chime-in in the comments.

Don’t give them a choice!  Remember that you are the parent, and should be able to set the rules for how money is handled in your house. If teaching your children to save for long-term goals is important to you, then your children are going to save for the long-term, because they won’t know that there is another option. If tithing is important, then your child will tithe because that is all they will know. If they start fighting you, trying to avoid your priorities, or making your life difficult, take whatever money they might have and put it in a savings account for when they are mature enough to follow the rules.

Start as early as possible!  The earlier you start your children down the path of learning financial responsibility, the harder it will be to break the habits you instill in them.

Reinforcement, reinforcement, reinforcement!  Both positive and negative reinforcement has their places here. Let’s say you do the three piggy-bank thing that is the current flavor of the month when it comes to teaching young people about money. When your child puts money in each bank accordingly, without being prompted, make a big deal out of it! Tell them how proud you are that they are becoming more mature and responsible. Kids have a need to please adults. On the flip side, when they do something inappropriate with their money, there has to be a consequence. If your child raids their “bicycle” savings account to buy a Selena Gomez poster, you need to temporarily take away their ability to access that money and maybe even the poster until they have replaced the money.

Communicate openly and honestly!  Talk with your children about the importance of learning to manage their finances. Make sure you keep the conversation at a level that their individual development can handle, but make sure you communicate. Be honest with them about difficulties you might have had or setbacks you might have had in the past and your desire to make sure they don’t repeat your mistakes. Also communicate the feelings you have had when you have experienced success with money issues. Finally, talk to your children about the way they might meet financial challenges, and work your way through the hypothetical. You want to make your children comfortable about talking with you about financial issues so they will still feel comfortable when they are older and might need your advice.

Feed their curiosity, even if it isn’t as deep as you want it to be!  Expose your children to as many possible views on money management as you feel comfortable exposing them to. Find blogs like this one, or others that you might read, and read them with your children. Make it a thing. For example, I post on Fridays. I do this so people have a whole weekend to peruse my posts and not interfere with their weekday schedule. Maybe you and your children can read and discuss my latest post on Saturday, over breakfast. You spend some great quality time with your kid, they get to learn something, and you both have something in common to discuss. Warning! Sometimes the language here gets a little saucy. I try to keep it PG-13, but every once in a while it gets worse. I try to let you know when that is going to happen ahead of time, sometimes what I consider PG-13 and what you might consider could be different.

While we’re at it, find a book by someone who can teach your kids about finance and have a “book club” within your family.  Find times to read and discuss the book.  If I might make a suggestion as to which book…,

  

Whatever you do, don’t give in to the frustration that comes with trying to teach some kids anything!  I get it.  It’s frustrating, but once they get it, everything is magical!  Teach them well (sounds like an intro to a song!)  Enjoy!

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This is Anthony Miranda. He’s what many in the financial industry would call a dumbass. Actually, he’s what many in any industry would call a dumbass. You can click on his name to read the story, but here’s the gist: Anthony is a bully. He was a bully with a gun. Until he tried to mug a martial artist who didn’t feel like being a victim.


 

This is a video of a couple of kids where the smaller is a bully. It’s a short video, but the smaller kid appears to punch the larger kid a couple times before the larger kid has enough and slams the smaller kid to the ground. He then walks away.

This is NOT a call for violence!

These stories have been creeping up through the news lately, and while I personally abhor violence, there is a large part of me that thinks this is a good thing.

The other day, the school had a lockdown drill to practice the correct procedure if someone were to sneak on campus with the intent to hurt children. While we were in lockdown, one of the students started getting really afraid. She didn’t know what she would do if someone tried to hurt her (and before you start making fun of her, she was like, 11 years old. How would 11-year-old You react in that situation, hmm?). Some of the other students were a little cockier than others, and started bragging about how they would do whatever to anybody who came near them.

I got a little heated and told the kids that their goal was to get away from any situation where physical violence was a possibility and run for an adult they could trust. I shut down the bravado about how tough some of these kids were, pointing out that people with big mouths generally did more harm to themselves than good. Then the conversation drifted towards bullies.

Where I work, much like many schools across the country, there is a zero-tolerance policy with bullies. I’m okay with that. Where I have a problem is the advice that is too often given to the victims of bullying.

1. Avoid the bully.

2. Say “No!” really loudly and then run.

3. Don’t bully back. (And by bully back, they mean no physical altercations.)

4. Don’t fight over physical property, such as money or other personal belongings.

When you call self-defense “bullying back”, you are creating more victims!

I have a huge problem with the last half of that list because bullying is such a serious invasion of one’s person. We can’t teach our young ones to allow bullies to continue without being stopped.

How can you teach your young ones to deal with bullies?

1. There are certain limits to what other people are allowed to do to them. There is never a reason to allow someone to push or hit them. Also let them know that some adults have different “permissions” than others do. A doctor might be allowed to look at or touch places that other adults shouldn’t. Another kid who is close friends might be okay to wrestle with, but probably not an assistant coach from Penn State while in the shower. Use your judgment.

2. It is okay to say ‘no’ when anybody crosses one of your lines. It’s not okay for someone to hit your child and then try to intimidate them into not saying something about it to you or another adult.

3. Violence is never the answer. Except that sometimes there is no other alternative. Teach them to avoid violence whenever possible, but also explain the circumstances under which you are okay with them defending themselves physically, and develop a plan so that your child knows what to do and when to stop.

4. Invest in a good self-defense program. These don’t have to be expensive. Usually, there is some sort of program available through the YMCA or parks and recreation systems. If you can swing it, look into a private self-defense school. Just make sure you watch class and make sure the instructor understands and shares the values you have when it comes to your children. You don’t want to create a bully by teaching your kid how to deal with bullies.

How does this help anybody financially?

When kids are taught to put their heads down and cower from bullies, they often learn to cower from everybody. A particularly aggressive salesman can frequently bully people into making purchases that they don’t want or need. People who don’t know how to stand up for themselves will rarely even ask for a discount, especially when one is clearly warranted because they are afraid of a possible bully.

When a young person is taught to deal with bullies at a young age, they frequently also learn how to be more discerning and how to avoid making purchases or expenditures that they don’t want to make.

When most people hear this song, they focus on the part about not being weak and turning the other cheek.  If at all possible, it is good to avoid especially physical confrontation.  I personally stick around to hear the part about sometimes having to stand and fight when you’re a man.  Enjoy!

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Most of you are either still stuffed like yesterday’s bird, or your feet are tired from impersonating a zombie flash-mob at your local retailers, dragging through the day, fueled by coffee, the last remaining candy corn from Halloween, and the hope that you are going to save a ton of money and finish your winter holiday shopping. I get that. I also get that many of the “smart” people are snarking about how much better they are for NOT going to the mall, and hearing any advice will go over like a lead balloon. So in the interest of knowing when to say when, today’s post is just about wishing that all of you had the most enjoyable Thanksgiving you could wish for, surrounded by your loved-ones and a ton of food that you will be working on for the next few weeks!

In the coming months, I’ll be rolling out a re-branding of Finance For Youth, as well as some new opportunities for you to show your support for this site and your dedication to the Qualities of Success. I’ll also be letting you in on some hopefully interesting and exciting news. I’ll let you know now, 2013 looks like it will be HUGE for F4Y. Stick around!

-W

p.s. I know I’ve probably used this song before, but since you can really only listen once a year, enjoy!

 

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Way back in July of 2007, I talked about the Quality of LOYALTY. At the time, I talked about it from the standpoint of a young employee working at one of their earlier jobs. I talked about the importance of staying loyal to those who employ you and of not being disloyal just because you think you might be getting a better opportunity. Over the next few years, in the classroom, I’ve been able to experience what many kids call loyalty.

What I’ve found surprised me perhaps more than it should have given the reason kids are in school in the first place:

They have no clue!

When I deal with my incarcerated students, many of them have the most screwed up vision of loyalty. In their head, loyalty means you never say anything bad about your hommie, no matter what. Period. End of sentence. Ever. In fact, in their world, one never “rats out” a hommie. If a friend is choking to death on a substance that they weren’t supposed to ever have been in contact with, loyalty dictates that one will never report the situation to someone who could help. Similarly, if a friend is going to commit a crime against someone else, even someone who is completely innocent, loyalty dictates that the friend commits the crime regardless of any other issues. For these students, the code of loyalty can be summed up best in three words:

Snitches get stitches.

While this sounds like a great premise for a Dr. Seuss book, this kind of warped view of loyalty has the very real-world possible consequence of death or some other permanent condition. One that isn’t nearly as funny as a book about the scar-bellied snitch from Dr. Seuss.

I’ve also seen in regular districts where young people believe they are at war with adults. Or where Hispanic kids believe they are at war with Caucasian kids, Black kids with Asians, or any other, arbitrary grouping.

For example, this week, I had a student call me a name in Spanish that basically included a vulgarity and an adjective that described my being overweight. There were three students in a group, and as they all walked away from my classroom, one of them made the offensive remark. When I asked which one made the comment, surprisingly, none of them even heard the comment or knew what that comment even meant in Spanish. None of them was going to be disloyal to his friends.

I had another student in the same class that committed to writing, some more, even more offensive insults about me. This student at least had the decency to wait until they believed I was gone from the school and therefore out of range to have heard the comment. The student denied writing the comments up till the writing of the comment was compared with a previous writing sample. Of course, other students in the class had seen the student writing the comment, but none of them were going to step forward.

WTF! Nobody knows anything about LOYALTY?

I worry about the future when I see students and young people with such a misunderstanding of real loyalty. I wonder where they get these ideas.

Joe Paterno, formerly of Penn State Football, after receiving reports that one of his friends and former assistant coaches had forcibly sodomized a 10 year-old child, did not go to the police as would have been the right thing to do. Instead, Coach Paterno called the athletic director and might have involved the school administration.

To be fair, this has rather less to do with loyalty, and much more to do with immortality. Coach Paterno was working on half a century of being an institution at Penn State and throughout Pennsylvania. He was a hero to many, and while I believe his decision to not be more active to stop his rapist former assistant coach, there is a small part of me that understands staying out-of-the-way and keeping my head down when I’m trying to accomplish something.

Very serious crimes such as robbery and rape are being committed in many of the Occupado protests. Many of them are going unreported to the authority because the victims and other protesters feel that they are being loyal to their cause and the supporters of the protests.

Their rationale is simple. If they report a crime, then the police will have to come in and do something about it. If the police do that, the protest is over. In a way, the victims feel that they are making some sort of noble sacrifice for what they consider a greater good. I believe they are sadly, and seriously misguided young people who were led astray by the adults in their lives for years.
 

So if this isn’t loyalty, what is?

You recognize that this isn’t loyalty. You recognize that true loyalty is more about helping others to be successful at all the right things. You know that loyalty sometimes means you have to “snitch” on a friend to keep that friend from screwing their lives up further. You know that loyalty, true and real loyalty, sometimes means telling someone something they don’t want to hear.

As an adult, and as a parent, you are probably feeling frustrated because you know that these news stories are no longer the outliers. This stuff is happening every day, across the country. People that we should teach our children to look up to, are becoming with increasing frequency, people that we should shield our children from.

But hope isn’t completely lost.
 

What can I do?

1. Show your kids loyalty by being truly loyal yourself. Start with loyalty to your spouse, your family, and to your kids. Sometimes loyalty is protecting your family from malevolent forces. Don’t be afraid to let your kids know how your loyalty manifests itself.

2. Call out B.S. demonstrations of false “loyalty” when you see them. When your kids come to you with some story about not wanting to get a friend in trouble, ask them if their friend will be willing to take the punishment for your kid’s misbehavior if it comes to it. Spoiler alert, they aren’t!

3. Separate your kids from the kids who push for false loyalty. This is a simple one. If your kid has a “friend” who ever says something as stupid as the snitches gets stitches thing, you need to distance your kid from them. First, as we’ve already said, they aren’t really friends, but second, these people are heading towards something dangerous.

I have been unable to verify this story with links to anywhere, but when I was young my dad was big into country music. His favorite artist was George Jones. My dad told me a story about how Jones had either hidden or destroyed all the shoes of his wife at the time Tammy Wynette. I’ve heard that he took the heels of all the shoes or that he took the shoes altogether. Either way, Wynette’s standing by her man definitely smacks of inappropriate “loyalty”. Enjoy.

 

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Pop Quiz:

Question:    How do you get a giraffe into a refrigerator?

Question:    How do you get an elephant into a refrigerator?

Question:    The Lion King is hosting an animal conference where all the animals attend, except one. Which one doesn’t attend?

Question:    There is a river you must cross, but it is used by crocodiles. You have no boat. How do you get across?

Now, I’ve heard this as a really dumb, bad joke, and also as an ice-breaker for training. I’ve used these questions when hiring employees, but not necessarily in the way they are intended. Most people get most of these questions wrong, but we’ll get to that part later on.

The other day, as I was doing dishes, I noticed that the floor was really wet in front of the sink. After initially thinking F4Y: The Wife spilled water all over the floor (which she didn’t), I looked under the sink and noticed the cabinet floor was also soaked. To be fair, the sink wasn’t leaking profusely, but there was a steady drip when I would run water. There are words that grown-ups use when they are frustrated, and then there are words that the immature or the uncreative use. I used all of those words and I made up a few new words. I had some problems.

1.    I needed to call a plumber to fix my sink.

2.    I needed to talk to my landlord because technically fixing this problem is his problem.

3.    I still had a sink full of dishes that needed to be washed.

4.    I hated my house because there is always something wrong.

5.    I didn’t want to talk to my landlord because I knew he’d say something that might make me explode and move out (which would be really stupid considering how long we’ve been there, how reasonable the rent really is, and how the house has some good things going for it like a really large yard for entertaining).

The teacher in me wanted to look at this as I would any other word problem, but I couldn’t see how being able to figure out the markup on a sweater or how to calculate the area of a trapezoid would be helpful here.

The dude in me wanted to set the place on fire and blame a faulty wire, but then I’d have a whole new set of problems, including finding a new place to live and paying alimony on a teacher’s salary because I destroyed my wife’s sofa.

The Personal Finance guy in me decided on fixing the most important problem that I had the power to fix right then. My problem was that water was dripping on my floor. This was something I could change immediately. I took an aluminum pan and put it under the pipe that was leaking so I could finish the dishes without doing further damage to the floor.

So stupid it’s simple.

So simple it’s stupid.

Too often, I read stories about readers who are just drowning in problems dealing with their finances. My heart breaks for them. I try to give the help and advice that I can, and I know my friends in the PF world do the same. But sometimes, and I’m guilty of this too, we tend to over-think the solution or lose focus on the real problem. In fact, I bet many of you reading this initially thought that I should call my landlord first. Great advice, but it wouldn’t have solved anything immediately. I still had a sink full of dishes that needed to be done, and I still had a pipe that was dripping on my floor. Some people might have suggested calling the plumber first. That still wouldn’t have solved my most immediate problem immediately.

So when you read stories, or hear from your friends or family members, and they ask you for some advice, remind them to stick to the most important problem that they can solve at that time, and put off dealing with problems that you can’t solve, or problems that the solutions won’t solve your problem.

Back to our animal friends:

I’m going to give you the answers and the reasoning behind each. Again, this sounds trite and a little silly, but if you actually listen to the rationale, and try to put it in practice with other questions, you’ll find that many problems wind up being much simpler to solve than you initially thought.

Answer One:        You open the door, put the giraffe in, and close the door.

This question tests to see if you do simple tasks in a complicated way.

Answer Two:        You open the door, take the giraffe out, put the elephant in, and close the door.

You probably said, “Open the door, put the elephant in, and close the door.” Sounds good, but you have to deal with the giraffe in the last question. This question checks to see whether you are able to think through the consequences of previous actions.

Answer Three:    The elephant. You put him in the refrigerator earlier, remember?

This question tests your memory.

Answer Four:        You jump in the river and swim across; perfectly safe because the crocodiles are at the Lion King’s meeting.

This question tests to see if you learn from earlier mistakes. You over-thought the other questions already; hopefully you figured it out by the last questions.

When talking about elephants, there is only one song that fits in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

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