Lessons in summer: The ROI of plenty of Z’s

Lessons in summer: The ROI of plenty of Z’s
June 13, 2018 Bob Allen

You know, it sounded like a good idea at the time. A personal finance summer camp. As The Wall Street Journal reported early last week:

“With names like Camp Millionaire, MoolahU, Financial Investors Club of America and WhizBizKids, the camps are designed to appeal to parents who want to teach their children the basics of money management, or support budding Warren Buffetts and Steve Jobses who show an interest in business. The programs teach everything from basic financial concepts, like active and passive income, to skills such as building money through investments, or launching a startup.”

One of the principal points Rick Bloom conveyed in our conversation a while ago was the lack of personal finance instruction in the schools. The consequences of that ignorance that can be seen all around us.

So why not send your kid to personal finance camp? Yeah. What a great idea for my sons, ages 12 and soon-to-be-11. I mean, if they don’t learn it there, where will they learn it?

Oh, yeah. Hmm. From their parents.

This isn’t the place for a lecture, mainly because it’s pretty obvious that parents should be doing this in concert with schools.

But “Camp Millionaire”? Really? Is this how you want your kid to spend the summer? If my parents had done this to me, I may have descended into an abyss of defiance and Che Guevara T-shirts.

Being a parent is hard, no doubt. But I gotta tell you, sometimes I think being a kid is even harder. You gotta worry about getting high grades so you can get into the best college with the most financial aid so that you don’t have to take out student loans and become part of the student loan crisis and set off on a precarious journey through a life where every listicle about personal finance is a Greek chorus of catastrophe. And did we mention the retirement crisis?

Summer generally is for a kid’s being a lazy bum. For wasting time. For daydreaming. And often, those daydreams become career paths and passion and purpose. Maybe. Yes, I am well-aware of the agrarian antecedents of summers off. And the virtues off all-year school. But honest to god, are we advocating this because we want to be better parents or because we want other parents to think we’re better parents?

In our home this summer, we’ll try to impart some Economics 101. Maybe take some of the money from my sons’ bank accounts and put it into a mutual fund, at which point we’ll explain some fundamentals of personal finance and why it matters. And they will roll their eyes.

Mostly, though, I’ll let them sleep in. Because besides being lax on their personal finance knowledge, adults have problems getting enough sleep.

And sleep, and the dreams that come with it, pay dividends.

—Bob Allen


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