Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back to school

Mr. Cheap tagged me in Wooly Woman's meme about what courses I'd love to take if they were offered.

I'm always game for a good memeing, so here goes. But first, a few caveats. In his selections, Mr. Cheap listed three courses he'd like to teach, as opposed to take as a student. Good on him, I say, so I'd likewise elect to be the teacher of one of my selections. Secondly, one of these courses actually exists, so it's not like I'm dealing in theoreticals here.

Choice No. 1: Introduction to personal finance for high school students.
The fact that my generation, as a collective, knows and cares diddly squat for things like investing and financial planning is a constant bee in my bonnet. As such, I'd like to get it into the heads of the next generation that this sort of thing doesn't have to be boring. Money isn't important or interesting in and of itself, but having enough of it opens doors for you to do things that do matter to you. That's sort of -- as the kids say -- "how I roll."

The way I'd imagine this playing out is maybe 1 hour a week at my old high school, doing Q&A with students about the basics of finance -- everything from interest rates to what exactly a "stock" is. There will be no stupid questions. The earlier someone learns about RRSPs and why credit cards are not your best friend, the better. Maybe other high schools teach this stuff, but I know mine didn't. That needs to change.

I suppose in the end, my desire to start this class is just a part of a larger charitable plan I have to set up a scholarship for high school students that demonstrate a desire to be more engaged in planning their finances -- and not just because they're greedy bastards...:) But that plan involves setting up a trust filled with dividend stocks, where the dividend cheques would act as the payout to help cover university tuition every year, and let's face it, I'm a long way off from that. Teaching a class would be a step toward that ultimate goal.

Choice No. 2: The Canadian Securities Course
This is the one I came very close to actually taking one year, but I changed my mind when my then-employer balked at the idea of helping me to pay for it. I'd still love to take this grueling financial course one day, both for my own personal benefit, but also because it would make me a much better journalist, I think. We'll see.

Choice No. 3: How to sell yourself
I'm in a creative field, and I'm something of a walking cliche in that I have a natural distaste for the concept of having to "sell" my skills to either employers or media consumers. But the older I get, the more I realize I have to. No one is going to come along and give me a book deal, a raise, or a column one day unless I'm out there convincing them every day why I'm worth it, and why my skills are worth their time and investment. That needs to change. I go to "networking" events frequently and usually find them horribly insincere. But I'm starting to learn that the best person to look out for my interests is myself. If I'm not out there banging my own drum, I know nobody else will. I don't want to turn into some reprehensible egomaniac overnight or anything, but being a little proactive in the marketing miliey would do me a world of good.

I won't tag anyone directly, but if you're reading this and you have a pfblog, consider yourself tagged.


FourPillars said...

Interesting post.

Check out http://www.thewealthycanadian.ca/review-the-canadian-securities-exam/
we've been discussing the CSC.

I have the book (from 13 years ago) if you want to borrow it - not sure if the library would have it.


Mr. Cheap said...

Interesting courses!

Everybody always talks about how they'd like to improve financial education in the schools, but a big part of my is suspicious that kids wouldn't be interested. In their heart-of-hearts I think everyone realizes that getting a credit card and overspending is a bad idea, but much like over-eating, its just easier to throw caution to the wind and do it.

I'm not sure if being told what would be a good idea and a bad idea financially in high school would change people choices. We get information about nuitrition in school, but theres still an obesity epidemic...