Money lessons for teens (while still doing what they love most.)
February 19, 2010 7:52 AM   Subscribe

My 15 year old daughter is in an economics course this semester and loves it. I'm looking for ideas to help her learn even more. I've tried many ways to give her a leg oupon money matters and she's resisted strongly until now. I'm looking for books, clubs, activities, websites, podcasts, movies, methods in practice, you name it (including specific actions I can take) that will help her learn to manage money and get a grasp on investing all while doing the very things she loves so that she sees that money is not the end-all-be-all. What have you or others you know done to help teens learn about money and put those principles into action?
posted by brokeaspoke to Work & Money (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I always liked the old Stocks and Bonds board game.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:59 AM on February 19, 2010

Oh, and it looks like it was updated and renamed as Stock Market Guru.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:01 AM on February 19, 2010

We had a stock market "competition" in our junior high school in which we made imaginary investments over the course of a semester. We all started with $5000 in the imaginary bank. There were a number of different winners - not just for making the most money - and the winners got a trip to NYC (not that far away for us). I made the most money on a single trade by dropping a pencil on the NYT stock listings. It was a penny stock that made feminine hygiene products and I put all of my money into it. I was happy with the trip to NYC, but was absolutely mortified any time anyone asked me what the company was all about. It was early in the semester, and so other students followed suit and bought penny stocks, and boy did they lose money fast! Knowing about what was happening in the other portfolios gave me a better sense of the randomness of the stock market. It's one of the few things I remember from junior high school.
posted by Eringatang at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2010

Is the course she's taking actually in economics, or in personal finance? Because there's a big difference between the two. It may be that she loves the former and hates the latter, in which case she'll probably still resist your attempts to push personal finance onto her. You may even run the risk of snuffing out her interest in economics by tying it to the personal finance stuff. I'd suggest continuing to encourage her interest in economics by giving her actual economics books rather than pushing the personal finance stuff. (I sympathize because I hate personal finance and love economics. I don't care about investing or money management at all, but I love actual economics.)

You may also have good luck with some of the more pop economics books, such as Freakonomics, The Armchair Economist, or Discover Your Inner Economist. They mix a lot of real world advice in with actual economics stuff.
posted by decathecting at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Planet Money is awesome.
posted by cross_impact at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I fell in love with economics in high school from reading Sowell's "Basic Economics, A Citizen's Guide to the Economy". It's a large volume, but it is incredibly accessible and very easy for a high school student to read. If she likes this vein, she will enjoy podcasts such as the Cato Daily Podcast . If you soon find yourself with a daughter who wants to abolish the Federal Reserve, then The Mises Institute will consume her for hours.

For investing, I recommend Dorsey's "Five Rules of Successful Stock Investing". This is where I got started in stocks. If your daughter likes the personal, money management side better, she really likes finance more than economics, and I would recommend she takes a look at Morning Star's Investing Classroom. It is a great curriculum, and if you sit through the whole course, it can really give you a great grasp on how stocks/funds/bonds are valued. The MintLife Blog is a fun, personal finance blog by the people.

Of course, if she wants to put some skin in the game, you can help her open a Roth IRA.
posted by yoyoceramic at 8:18 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's an economic class that also covers personal finance. It seems well rounded as it starts big picture and shows how it affects each of individually. She has expressed a specific desire to learn more about personal finance and investing, in addition to what she's learning in class.
posted by brokeaspoke at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2010

Are you talking about personal finance or economics? Because they are pretty different.

In terms of finance and investment, at my high school we made investment teams with $X to invest and the team with the largest gains won. That was an interesting start to thinking about why you would invest in a particular company.

MoneySkill could be interesting. We used a game like that with our students when I taught financial education. The Motley Fool has a teen section.
posted by emkelley at 8:21 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you want her to be interested in "personal economics", but the course she's in probably has a very different focus. It also sounds like you might have been pushing a lot of other stuff on her... it may be that if you suggest/buy/try to involve her in anything related to economics, it could reduce whatever interest she has.

You know what might be great? Tell her you'll provide a budget of ($100? $50?) toward books, a class, game, going to an event, and she can decide what she's interested in. Her deciding, with no (zero) interference, suggestions, or expression of preference from you, could be the key to nurturing her interest. Your willingness to support her own, original interests by providing funds and driving her will be a huge gift.
posted by amtho at 8:21 AM on February 19, 2010

Oh, should have previewed. Sorry.
posted by emkelley at 8:25 AM on February 19, 2010

Tyler Cowan, the author of Discover Your Inner Economist has a blog that is pretty interesting (though occasionally discusses "adult" topics).
posted by ghharr at 8:29 AM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: Many great answers here. To be clear, I see my part as helping gather resources for her to pick, choose and use. This has always been my appoach as oppposed to pushing specific ideas and practices on her. I just give her ideas to explore as she will. The class has sparked a sudden and very interest in economics and personal finance and I'm all about helping her explore whatever it is that she get's excited about.
posted by brokeaspoke at 8:36 AM on February 19, 2010

I liked this comment in another thread about teaching kids about personal budgets by literally putting all your money on a table and taking parts of it away for various expenses.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:42 AM on February 19, 2010

Personal finance: Andrew Tobias, The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. I read this when I was in high school, and I've found it to be invaluable. Both informative and funny.

Economics: Paul Krugman, The Age of Diminished Expectations. A good overview of economics for the intelligent general reader. A little more dry, but still very readable.
posted by russilwvong at 8:53 AM on February 19, 2010

What many students of economics like is that it is NOT about personal finance. Seconding Freakonomics because it's super cool and even kinda revolutionary, to a teenager, to read about the cost-benefit calculations of people in the drug trade.

She may enjoy going deeper into behavioral economics, or decision psychology, or whatever the cool people are calling it these days. Predictably Irrational is a good pop-science book along these lines.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:05 AM on February 19, 2010

Personal finance: Andrew Tobias, The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. I read this when I was in high school, and I've found it to be invaluable. Both informative and funny.

I second this.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2010

Economics films!

Here are some films not listed in those Wiki categories that I also consider economics films.

- Tucker: The Man and His Dream
- The Mosquito Coast (also a book by Paul Theroux)
- The Hudsucker Proxy

Here's a syllabus with a vague study guide regarding films and economics.

Here's a list of economics-related films from CSUS.

Googling econmics films will get you a lot more than that. Watching Tucker: The Man and His Dream and The Mosquito Coast in my high school econ class really made me get it, more than anything else we did.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2010

Since we are living in interesting economic times, I have found the Planet Money Podcast from NPR to be wonderful and engaging. Sometimes it somewhat technical, but they go to great pains to explain complexities. They are a spin-off of the episodes of This American Life entitled The Giant Pool of Money (Parts I, II...). It is one of the best things to come out of the sub-prime crisis.
posted by Verdant at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Over at The Simple Dollar, the author regularly talks about teaching his (much younger) children about money. He's got a lot of useful, common sense information there.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:03 AM on February 19, 2010

Marketplace Money is a great weekly podcast. They regularly have topics in how to relate personal finance to children/teens. This episode from Novemebr 2009 focused on the topic of parents teaching their children about money.
posted by bwilms at 10:13 AM on February 19, 2010

Help her join, or even start, an investment club. While it is true that most long term investment clubs are generally composed of adults wishing to learn about personal investing, some are organized for young people, and may even have a comparatively short term charter (of say, a few years), appropriate to the life experience and learning goals of young people just learning about personal money management and investment. Dues of a few dollars a month enable young members to pool assets, while building a "real money" portfolio in common stocks or bonds, and such clubs also provide a forum for inviting CPAs, stockbrokers, bankers, and other community professionals to talk to the club members about personal finance and investing topics.

Also, help her join and participate in a Junior Achievement group, to learn the fundamentals of organizing and operating a business, in a capitalist framework.
posted by paulsc at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2010

Try "The Economic Naturalist" by Robert H. Frank. The subtitle is "why economics explains almost everything" - it's a collection of essays that are very accessible and looks to economics for answers to everyday questions.
posted by cushie at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2010

Seconding the Planet Money podcast. It's fantastic.
posted by kookaburra at 11:11 AM on February 19, 2010

As a teen my father and I had a standing agreement that for each personal finance book I read and discussed with him he would give me 20 dollars. If I chose to invest the money he gave me he would double it.
posted by nulledge at 2:59 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may want to look into Economics for Leaders, a week-long summer camp that costs around $200. Though it doesn't seem to be specifically about personal finance, it may be a fun way for her to explore more about a topic she's enthusiastic about.
posted by estlin at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2010

Ooh, yes to estlin's suggestion! FTE puts on some amazing programs. I highly recommend them.
posted by decathecting at 9:28 AM on February 20, 2010

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