>I want to share some of what I’ve learned from talking to thousands of young people about personal finance. Some of it isn’t pretty, but there’s a huge amount that can be done to educate young people about personal finance.
My name is Ramit Sethi and I’ll be speaking at the YES Summit on Wednesday afternoon. I’m the founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a blog on personal finance and personal entrepreneurship for college students, recent grads, and everyone else. I started it while I was a sophomore at Stanford and it’s grown to have over 100,000 readers/month.
Here are some of the key things I’ve learned that I’ll be covering in my talk.
The message matters. Personal finance can be fun. I made it my goal to make it interesting and engaging. That means I mock people, I point out mistakes (including my own), and I occasionally curse. But I also talk about things that matter to young people: How much do you save by cooking at home? What’s the difference in starting to invest at age 20 vs. 30? Why do I disagree with all the personal-finance pundits who recommend only buying used cars? And is being rich really all about money? (Absolutely not.)
The messenger matters, too. Young people think of personal finance as boring drudgery. And every time they hear about personal finance, it’s either (1) some hyped article telling them “The 10 Hottest Stocks!!!” or (2) someone coming to give them a boring lecture on bond laddering and other irrelevant issues. One of the reasons I started my site was getting frustrated by all the personal-finance education out there. It’s mostly written by old white men for old white men, and young people’s eyes glaze over. I’ll talk about how I avoid this.
Don’t forget about the product. Some banks have tried to slap new marketing on an old product. Young people see right through it. Instead, they’re flocking to banks like ING and Emigrant Direct (which I personally recommend on my site–in fact, I’ve personally referred hundreds of people to ING). Why? Part of it is word of mouth spread by the insanely high interest rates. Young people seize upon the 5% interest (“10x what I’m getting at Wells Fargo?!”) and jump ship. But there are more levers you can pull besides interest rates.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little flashy. I usually write very long essays for my site. But once in a while, I put up images like this:
It’s not as nuanced as a thousand-word essay, but it grabs the attention of certain people who respond to different messages. Could you use video to reach young people? Images? Podcasts?
I’ll go into all these topics (and more) at my talk on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 12:40pm. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to think about beforehand, please email me. I’d love to hear what’s keeping you up at night.
You can also read some of my past articles on iwillteachyoutoberich.com.