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Monday, October 15, 2012

On a Quest....For Wealth

I mean.....really.....who isn't on this same quest....right?

Unfortunately, with the way the economy is seems to be a harder and harder journey to undertake.

Rainman and I have worked through Dave Ramseys Financial Peace classes and implemented some of his strategies fairly successfully in our lives.

It has not been perfect.  We have not been perfect.

But, we are heading in the right direction.

So, earlier this year, when I was looking for a finance/economics course for D-man to take I wasn't sure which direction to go.

Then, a perfect class dropped into my lap via the TOS Review Crew.

WealthQuest for Teens  The tagline for this product is what really sold me on giving it a try.

"Your Teen's Financial Fitness:  Make It Real. Make It Matter, Make It Last"

This program is designed for high school aged kids, 14-19.  But after D-man started it, I knew that I wanted A-girl to work through it also...even though she is only 12.

I like that it isn't a "Get Rich" kind of program....but is a program that, in theory, will help your kids learn to be "as wealthy as they want to be".

This program starts with an on-line video seminar.  You watch the videos and pause it to answer questions in the on-line workbook (Warning: You can't rewind the press pause if you are interrupted or need time to figure out an answer.  If you don't you have to watch the whole segment again!)  We made sure to print ours out.  I wanted to be able to go back in a few years and show the kids what their answers were to some of the questions.

The questions really make the kids examine some of their underlying feelings about money....and people who have it.  Actually, it made me think a bit about my basic perceptions of people who have money too.

This program also came with a e-book for your teenagers and a separate one for the parents.  The parent book sort of explains what your kids will be learning through the seminar and through the accompanying e-book.

(Hey, wait!  Look!  Money does grow on trees!  Ha!)

I made a lot of notes and markings in the parent book.  Most of the things that Jill Suskind, the author of this series stated, I wholeheartedly agreed with. There were a few things that I didn't....but, I will start with the things that I liked about this course.

It really could not have come at a better time for our family.  If you read my blog regularly, you know that we have had a few setbacks in our finances and, as a result, my poor house is still waiting various coats of multiple rooms.

The fact that Rainman and my budget has been so tight, has been the topic of much discussion around the house.  Children bemoaning and wailing about how they wish we were rich and why we can't shop at a different grocery store....or take dance lessons.....or go out to eat.

To which I respond with stories of my own childhood when we ate expired food and drank powdered milk.  (By the way, have you watched The Middle lately?  In the episode where Frankie gets laid off, there is a funny bit about them tightening their belts and switching to powdered milk.)

Rainman and I have tried to step away from the mentality that money and the mysteries of handling it is something that grown-ups should only deal with.  It is hard.  You want to be honest with them.  But, you also don't want them  telling everyone at church that their mom cried at the grocery store because she had to leave a full cart of groceries at the checkout because she didn't have any money.  You know?  (By the way, it was a temporary glitch with our debit card....and I didn't have more than about $1.38 in the bottom of my purse.....we aren't really that bad off.)

But, it is a balancing act.  We don't want the kids to think we are dirt poor....or that we will be able to magically pay for any activity or sport that they would like to try.... or new clothes or shoes that happen to be in style.  We aren't either.  We are in the middle.  We are not well off.  We are not poor.

It is hard.

So, when a finance course presented itself....designed for really was like a gift from God.

It has been pretty good.  I am not sure if it has been miraculous....but, I can see a definite change in how they are thinking and talking about money.

Like a recent conversation with D-man.  It started out with the usual, "I can't wait until I can drive."  Which then turned into, "I can't wait until I can own car."  The conversation then veered to me asking when he thought that was going to happen, since I know he has probably saved a total of $10 towards a new car.  (In case you haven't figured it out from this post...Rainman and I will not be buying cars for our children.....unless things drastically change at our household. )

Then D-man went on and started moaning a bit about his lack of funds.  I was ready to open my mouth and start my usual lecture.  But, I literally and figuratively "zipped my lips".  He noticed and asked, "What?  What were you going to say?"  I told him that I wasn't going to say anything that he didn't already I was saving my time and my breath.

He then proceeded to sort of have a conversation with himself that he could get some odd jobs.  That instead of waiting for people to ask him, he could contact some people and offer to do some of their odd jobs.....especially those people he knew that both spouses worked.  He then went on to list people that he should probably talk to....some were people that he has occasionally done small jobs for before....but some he hadn't.  It was a good conversation....where I said very little. (Probably his favorite kind of conversation with me!)

This change in his thinking process I can directly relate to the video seminar.  You are never too young to find some sort of just have to apply yourself.

D-man and A-girl seem to be picking up different things from this course.  D-man is learning that he can make money even though he is 14.  A-girl is learning to save and plan where she wants her money to go.

Ms. Suskind teaches them to have silo which you tell your money what it is going to do.

D-man has empty envelopes ready for when he gets some money.  WealthQuest for Teens mentality is that you don't just put all your money into saving up for that one big purchase....but you spread them out into different you are always working towards all of your goals.  Sort of like how us grown ups do it, isn't it?

Here is what A-girl has....

Beautifully decorated tin cans that actually have money in them.  Different than D-man, huh?

Future  Financial Freedom - 10%
Heal the Word - 10%
Saving for Big Ticket Items - 10%
Learning - 10%
Fun Money - 10%
Necessities - 50%

When she talks about things she wants to do or buy is always in terms of what she has in her silo for that item.  She too has been thinking of ways she can make money and what services she can offer the world.

One  other thing that may be of interest to you, is  that Rainman and I do not give an allowance to the kids.  It is not necessarily because we are opposed to it...but, honestly, because there isn't extra money in the budget for it. 

In Chapter 5 of the parent book, Ms. Suskind made me feel a little bit better about no allowance for my kids.  Here is what she said:

If you give your teen an allowance, but you don't like what they are doing with it, consider this:  Your child might just be practicing bad money habits with the money you are giving them.

They might be learning things like, no matter what, they will get $X every Friday just because they are your kid.  That isn't how it works in real life, is it?

I wish I could get magical money given to me every Friday just for being little old me, don't you?  See why I feel a little better?  At least my kids aren't learning bad money habits from allowance.  Right? I am actually doing them a favor.  Right?  Right?

I am hoping to teach the kids some good financial money management skills before they head out there into the deep water.

Ms. Suskind uses an analogy in the book that I really liked...(especially because my mom cannot swim).

Here is a bit of a paraphrase:

Ever been in a boat with a person who can't swim?  They are nervous, aren't they?  Young adults without money skills are like boaters without swimming skills...that have been thrown a storm....with some sharks.

She goes on to make a comparison to what it is like being in a boat with people that know how to swim and are excited to be out on the water.  They know their limitations and makes wise choices about when and where to swim.

Now, jump back in your mind to the non-swimmers who have been thrown overboard....with sharks...and a storm.


Get it?

She is trying to make a connection between money and financial management.  Teach your kids to swim (be smart about money) ahead of time.  Because there will be times in life that you are thrown overboard....and your kids won't have to follow the crowd and float along clinging to the closet flotation device....or drown like everyone else.....they can calmly swim to another boat....or decide to retire on the island.

Let's face it, today, most people are "drowning" in debt.  I know that none of us want that chain around our kids neck so they will just sink faster.

There were some points in the book that stung a bit.  Like: Money problems, such as credit card debt, stem from a lack of money mastery.  Ouch.

Ms. Suskind is trying to help raise up a generation where there is a New Normal.  Not one full of consumer debt and a life led paycheck to paycheck. 

Ms. Suskind, has worked her way through it that kind of card debt.....never having money for the things she wanted and felt she should have.  There was one part of her personal story that I actually laughed out loud about.  She was telling about her life as an adult.  She had a job. She had a bunch of credit card debt and just didn't understand why she never had money.  She then lists all the things she "tried" to get herself out of this problem.

She listed the usual things; budgeting; not spending any money; and then just giving up because it was too hard, and going shopping (with her credit card).

One of the things she tried was looking for a rich guy. (To her surprise, rich guys weren't terribly attracted to women who didn't manage their money well!)  Who knew????  Surprised smile

Okay, some of the other little gems I found in the Parent Guide.

  • Today's economy is far less forgiving than the one we grew up in.
  • Thinking that your teen doesn't have enough money to require money management skills is like saying, "You can learn to eat well and exercise AFTER you are already healthy."
  • Thinking that schools should take care of this by providing personal finance courses.  Remember, schools already teach nutrition and one-third of US teens are obese.

Ms. Suskind stresses that money management is a journey, or a lifestyle and recommends reading at least one book about money every year for the rest of your life.  I did not want to hear that.  I want to learn it and be done with it, if you know what I mean.

There was one sentiment used repeatedly through the book that I didn't necessarily agree with.  The notion that teens learn best when they are learning together, with other teenagers.  Although, I think this is why she used an all teen cast in the video seminar....because apparently teenagers will listen to other teenagers (even if some of the aren't the greatest actors).

As a homeschool mom, I really don't agree with that mentality.  As a former public school graduate, I don't agree with that mentality.  In many ways, I think I would have learned more at home with my parents.....because there weren't cute boys, clothes, cliques, being afraid to ask questions, and peer pressure to worry about.  In many ways, I am not sure teenagers should ever be around each other....sometimes they don't have the most stellar ideas.  Sarcastic smile

This 6 week course does have detailed  information and good ideas on becoming financial fit....but, really the success of it depends on your teen putting in the time to research things on their own....and really thinking about and being honest in their answers to the workbook questions. 

They really have to think.  They really have to get personal.  They really have to dig deep.

They really have to look at their money and where it is going and decide where they want it to go.  There is one site called Money Trail that is specifically designed to help kids manage their allowance and money. Another site that they recommend using to help track their money is

I haven't used this site, but I do know a few grown ups that also use this site to help them track their own expenses.  It is free.  These kinds of sites make me nervous....but, honestly, so does on-line banking.  Just like Ms. Suskind said....I am still fighting the old school mentality of balancing my checkbook on paper and being private about all things related to money!

Do I recommend this course?  Yes.  Wholeheartedly. 

Homeschooled.  Public schooled.  Private schooled. 

I am happy that I had A-girl go through this course even though she is only 12.  I am actually thinking of having L-girl work through it too.  She is only 10.  I just think the way that they get you to really think and change some of your attitudes about money could be invaluable before you hit your teen years....even if some of the questions about cell phones and things don't apply yet.

If you want to help bring your teenager (or almost teenager)  into the "New Normal" of personal finance, you can have them work through the WealthQuest for Teens course for $39.95.  If the lessons stick with them and will be a $40 well spent!

See what other teens belonging to the TOS Crew thought of WealthQuest for Teens.

Disclaimer:  I received access to the on-line class for WealthQuest for Teens in addition to the student and parent e-book, for free, in exchange for an honest review.