I’m in the process right now of putting together a general business course for one of my high school classes I get to teach starting next year. I have a ton of freedom with what I want to emphasize in the course and I figure I can budget about 3-4 weeks for personal finance basics if I want. In order to get the best course possible, I thought I would reach out to our super-brilliant readers and ask you to help the leaders of tomorrow!

What (if any) personal finance tip do you remember best from high school? Did it sort of hook you in to learning a little more about finance in general?

For me, the tip that instantly grabbed my attention was how compound interest worked. I was amazed at how a person could quickly earn money on the original interest of their investment. The concept of using “the bank’s money” to earn more money for me seemed brilliant (and it still does today to be honest).

high school personal financeIn order to fully drive the point home I still remember our teacher making a small spreadsheet and gradually filling in (with us doing the calculations of course) how much money we could have in the bank at 55 and/or 65 if we invested the equivalent of a pack of smokes every day. As he poignantly pointed out, there was more than one student in the class who smoked more than a half pack-a-day so it was doable if one had the right motivation. When we saw the numbers begin to snowball and finally end up with us as millionaires (admittedly I didn’t fully understand the concept behind inflation-adjusted returns at the time) everyone in the class was stunned. If you have ever been in a high school classroom before you know that silence is at a premium and awed silence is the sweetest music a teacher can hear. To this day that lesson still motivates to save 10%+ and all the rest of that stuff. If someone had started teaching us financial basics by taking us through the painstaking process of making a budget I might have reacted differently to the whole thing so obviously a few “hooks” to grab attention are crucial to the overall presentation.

This is why I’m looking for your help. I’d love to have a full course dedicated to personal finance, and I might actually pursue the proposal in the future, but for now this is what we’ve got. Help me make it the most attention-grabbing it can be. Reach way back (some have to reach a little farther than others) and think about what you would have been thinking about while sitting in a high school classroom. If you’re at all in the honest ballpark chances are you were thinking about the cute boy/girl next to you and the party on Saturday night. It has to be cool enough to distract from that! Tall order right?

So let’s hear it enlightened readers of Young and Thrifty. Now is your chance to help one of those know-it-all teachers and let them know what is really up!

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