Friday, July 20, 2012

Financial Thriller for Kids Seeks Support on

With just seven days to go to reach his project funding goal of $3,400, MBA professor turned novelist, Craig Everett is confident that his new book will be a hit with teens and parents alike.

Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune is Everett's first novel about a teenage boy who has "freakish" money skills and uses those skills to solve a crime, plus save his friends and school. When asked what he means by "freakish" money skills, Everett said that Toby is gifted in math and can, among other things, calculate compound interest in his head. Toby also has a Midas touch when it comes to making money with businesses like dog-walking and trading in fruit snacks. This is not surprising when you consider that the author has been very involved in the high-school entrepreneurship organization, Junior Achievement.

Everett, father of five, is a big supporter of the financial literacy movement. And, like many of us supporters, he is disappointed that financial education programs for kids have mixed results. His solution to this lack of stickiness with financial concepts is to hit kids from as many angles as possible to reinforce basic money lessons. Fiction, he believes, is one of the angles. The time value of money, reading financial statements, and return on investment are just a few key concepts that readers of Toby Gold books will be exposed to.

This book, said Everett, will be the first of several in a Toby Gold series aimed at the same 9 to 14 year old crowd that reads Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books. When asked what the biggest money lesson is that kids will take away from the book, Everett said, "Save half." That is Toby's catch phrase and it refers to saving half your income and investing the rest so that you become financially independent very quickly.

How can you help get this book into teenage hands? Please go to and choose from one of the many pledge levels.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weird Things That Can Happen With Money

Money is such a weird thing. It reminds me of abstract art. From it's unknown intrinsic value to the joy of finding five dollars on the sidewalk, do we really know what money is or why it really affects us so much? Do we understand how it moves around behind the scenes? Do we really know who is profiting from a deal and who isn't? Can we really control it? Or is it a force beyond our reckoning?

Here are some weird, uncomfortable, and somewhat scary scenarios that have hit my radar lately. I've listed them in order from just plain weird to just plain awful, with #8 being the worst.

#1 The golden ticket.
When you go from being self-employed to employed, banks suddenly love you and will lend you lots of money. That employment letter is like a golden ticket to the weird world of borrowing. But, be careful...sometimes the ticket is written on toilet paper (see weird thing #8).

#2 Why cheques get held. 
I was at the bank yesterday with a large cheque. Because they knew me personally, they didn't put a 5 day hold on it. I didn't actually care either way, but what if I did need the money right away and they didn't know me?

#3 Wondering if your banker is really on your team?  
Who knows. I am never truly sure. Am I just a dollar sign or a am I a person? Am I really being given the best rates possible? Hard to say. It feels very nebulous.

#4 Asking to raise or lower your credit card limit.
This is an awkward, personal conversation in which you have to share the details of why you want to raise or lower your limit. Not fun.

#5 Being told, "It's your own fault that you're not rich."
I went to a seminar recently and was hammered pretty heavily with the message that I must be fundamentally flawed, lazy, financially illiterate and basically stupid if I'm not rich. It was a shame-people-into-buying approach to sales. Not good. I didn't stay for the last day.

#6 People taking money that is not theirs.
I've been hearing about non-profits who lose large chunks of money to the very people who volunteer to run them, and then have to take them to court to get some of it back. This kind of thing destroys morale.

#7 When a stock goes to zero.
I own a stock that has gone from $6 a share plus dividends to 5 cents a share and no dividends. Where did my money really go? What can I do about it, other than try not to make the same mistake again? Do I sell it now? Or just hang on and hope? I feel like such an idiot.

#8 Not getting paid.
I've watched a friend suffer because his employer has been unable to pay the staff for a while. It's like he is being held hostage and multiple areas of his life are being affected by the stress. Imagine being in this situation with three little kids and just one family breadwinner. You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy.

If you have any weird money things going on in your life, I wish you all the best. And, please remember that your intrinsic value is known and measurable. You matter a whole lot more than money.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guerrilla Messaging and Other Creative Ways to Talk to Teens About Money

If your little Ella is hitting the teen years and you’ve been mum on the topic of money since she bounced into the world, you’ve got a big problem. Your lovely, pubescent creature is mining nuggets of financial misinformation from her peers on Facebook and beyond. Why? Because she thinks it’s a taboo topic at home.

But don’t freak out. There is hope. You can start talking to your teen about money as soon as you finish reading this article. Here’s how.

Guerrilla Messaging

The next time you and your spouse are driving the family somewhere, plan in advance to make the conversation go something like this:

“Honey, who’s paying for Evan’s university?”
“I dunno.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? Don’t you have money saved up?”
“I don’t think so. He’s got to get himself through school like I did. McDonalds, maybe?”
“Okay. Maybe he can mow 10,000 lawns between now and then.”

Keep the banter going until your “Evan” chimes in with some worried questions about who exactly is going to pay for his education.

Loan Sharking

The next time your teen asks for twenty dollars to go out with her friends say “sure, sweetie,” but then produce a typed-up loan document with the following terms:
  • The full amount must be paid back in seven days. 
  • Any amount outstanding will result in an additional dollar per day loan fee.
  • The document must be signed by your teen and yourself, plus a witness. 
Put the document up on the fridge, and be tough but open-minded to any suggestions your teen might have for working off the debt.

Price that Gruel

Okay,so maybe you’re not serving gruel for dinner tonight, but I can guarantee you are serving a meal that you can attach a dollar sign to. Come up with a rough estimate of what the cost is of getting that meal from the store to your table. Write that number on a piece of paper.

Then, at the beginning of the meal, announce that you will give twenty dollars to the person who comes closest to the actual cost of the meal. After the dishes are done, bring the family back to the kitchen table and see who is the closest.

Now,that’s enough reading. It’s time to set up your teen to talk to you about money. Be creative, have fun and make them sweat a little.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved. 
This article will be appearing in Your Teen's Money later this week. 
For reprint permission, please contact moneyme at telus dot net.