How to Introduce Your Family to Investing

Investment topics, like the stock market or retirement plans, are probably not top of mind for most parents to bring up with their kids. But children will have an easier time catching onto it later in adulthood if they are introduced at an early age.

Not sure how to bring it up or get your kids involved? Here is a great example of how one family made the decision to get started. Feel free to be inspired!

How I Taught My Kids to Invest

And here are some tips to help you get the conversation going in your own household:

Time to Get Your Kids Investing? 5 Tips to Keep in Mind

Investing ABCs: Teaching Your Children about Stocks

However you choose to get started, the important thing is to start. Get your kids involved and asking questions. Don’t know the answer? No problem! You can experiment and research to find the answers together. Family bonding AND a lesson in investing. Talk about a win/win!

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10 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids

Isn’t it heart-warming to hear stories of someone selflessly helping another person? Isn’t even more heart-warming when that someone is your own child?! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of pride you’ll get when watching your child perform an act of kindness for someone else.
We’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite random acts of kindness that are great for children:

1. Put money in the donation boxes at McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House.
2. Clip extra coupons for food items that you can purchase and then donate to your local food pantry.
3. Choose five loved ones to write a special note to and send it to them in the mail.
4. Write a thank you note for someone who performs a service for you, like the mail carrier, the bus driver, your teacher, etc.
5. Make a special treat for your neighbors and hand deliver them.
6. Help clean up trash or litter that was left behind at your local park.
7. Sort through your clothes, toys, books, etc., picking out ones that you don’t use anymore, and donate them to a local charity.
8. Thank a soldier for their service.
9. Leave change in a vending machine for the next person to find.
10. Hold the door open for someone behind you.

If you have other random acts of kindness to share, we’d love to hear about them!

And the Winner is…

TrophyBreadVault is very excited to deliver this traveling trophy to the Fall semester’s winning team, “TEAM Money Tree,” in the BreadVault Classroom Investment Management Challenge (high school level).

The winning team produced a +4.6% rate of return from September 23 to January 16, which was 2X the return of the S&P 500 over the same time period.

We will kick-off next semester’s competition next week!

The middle school competition is at the halfway point, and the leading classroom team is currently up +9.7% since September 23.

That’s what we call a “lights out” return! Well done!

Enhance Your Child’s Financial Vocabulary with These 5 Terms

One of the most important tasks for parents to tackle while raising kids is ensuring that they have a proper understanding of how money and finances work. By providing your children with a solid financial literacy foundation, you will set them on the right path to be financially responsible adults.

An easy way to start is by introducing some financial vocabulary basics like these:

  • Income – money that an employer pays an employee for performing a job
  • Taxes – money that we pay to the government to help pay for public programs and necessities
  • Bank Account – a place that helps us safely store, organize and manage our money
  • Bills – notes letting us know how much we owe for our purchases
  • Stocks – ownership shares of a company that are sold to the public

How can you build off of these terms? Can you think of 5 more to introduce to your kids?

Source: T. Rowe Price’s Money Confident Kids

4 More Easy Opportunities to Teach Kids About Money

In March we shared some suggestions for every day opportunities where you can teach your kids something about spending and saving in our post, “4 Easy Opportunities to Teach Kids About Money.” This month, we have 4 more ideas for you to implement:

Start a change jarFamily fun jar Save each member of the family’s leftover change each day in a change jar on the kitchen counter or somewhere highly visible. When it’s full, let your kids help you count it and cash it in. Then as a family decide what to do with the funds. Who knew you could do so much with pocket change!

Take them with you to the bank
Need to make a deposit? Bring them with. Need to get cash at the ATM? Bring them with. But don’t just let them focus on the candy that the bank teller gives them. Explain to your kids how you keep your money in an account at the bank for safe keeping until you need to use it. And that the ATM is giving you your own money that you already put in.

Play The Game of Life
Rainy night and looking for something to do inside? Why not play The Game of Life! This classic board game is a fun activity that will give you kids insight into the possible milestones they could encounter over the course of their lives. Go to college. Get married. Have a child. Plus the game also comes with a bank and play money, insurance policies, promissory notes and stock certificates.

Clip coupons
Look through the coupons that come in the mail or the newspaper with your kids. Have them try to find items that you usually purchase and have on hand. Then let them be in charge of cutting out the coupons and holding on to them during your shopping trip. The kids learn about saving money and you actually save some dough on your next shopping trip!

Classroom Investment Management Challenge

Remember our post about how a class of Fargo 6th graders mopped up against college investors? Well this year, the Classroom Investment Management Contest is expanding. Any interested classrooms in the Fargo-Moorhead metro and surrounding communities are invited to participate!

Registration for the 2014-2015 Classroom Investment Management Challenge begins today and runs through September 12. This is a free competition between classrooms. Once you sign up, you’ll be sent the competition rules and set up instructions. Click here to register!



Imagination: Good for the mind… and the wallet


I am always amazed by how creative kids can be when they play. Having a 2-year-old in the house, we often find ourselves eating pretend eggs she cooked in her kitchen, using toilet paper rolls as binoculars to look at birds out the window, or her new favorite, acting like we’re stuck when she waves her magic wand and puts us in pretend bubbles.

It seems like she’s consistently surprising me with her creative imagination, and I love it! But sometimes I forget to encourage it. For example, I remember one weekend I was cleaning out some drawers in our bedroom and I found a small hinged box that a watch had come in. Instantly my 2-year-old grabbed it to play with. She opened it, propped it up, started tapping her fingers on it and said, “I checking ‘puter,” as if she were on a laptop computer. After that she stared pretending other objects around the house were computers too.

Then later, while out shopping at a secondhand store, I saw in the toy section a small, pink computer. I thought, “this is perfect, she would love this!” So I snatched it up, bought it, and brought it home for my little girl. And I was right, she loved it… for about half an hour. Now the toy computer lives in a basket under her bed and she still goes around pretending random household items are her ‘puter.

Lesson learned: Kids are amazingly creative and can turn even the most ordinary of household items into something fun and different during playtime. And sometimes they even prefer the ordinary item with endless possibilities. Next time I’ll save my money and encourage her pretend instead!

BreadVault for the Classroom

Yesterday’s story, Fargo 6th-graders mop up against college investors, about the Oak Grove math students was wonderful. Mr. Carlson and his kids were fully engaged in the investment challenge all throughout the school year, and it was even surprising to us to see how excited the students were about learning concepts of investing in a hands-on way.

We want to thank Motif Investing for providing the tools that allowed these kids to build their classroom’s portfolios. Their platform really made the learning fun and easy for the kids. As an adult investor, I love it, too!

We continue to expand the scope of BreadVault to include curriculum that utilizes our own app and the apps of other great financial technology companies to create a meaningful virtual financial life experience for youth ages 10 – 18. We don’t believe that you can “teach” financial literacy to youth. It’s a skill set that has to be learned through application.

Imagine your 6th grader or your 9th grader or your high school junior learning consequential financial lessons by managing his or her own virtual budget, investment portfolio, debt, and discretionary income inside a “classroom economy”. We have science labs, right? Think of BreadVault for the Classroom as a financial management lab.

Between now and June 2014, we are looking for schools to volunteer as participants in our beta testing of the BreadVault for the Classroom curriculum. If you are interested in having us contact your school to get them involved, please reach out to our team at and provide us with your contact information. In turn, we will send you a video file to show you what we are building. We believe we’ve accomplished the unattainable…making personal finance exciting to the next generation.

  • Motif Investing founder Hardeep Walia talks with sixth grade math students at Oak Grove Middle School in Fargo, ND. (Bruce Crummy, AP)
  • Motif Investing founder Hardeep Walia talks with staff at Oak Grove Middle School in Fargo, ND. (Bruce Crummy, AP)
  • Motif Investing founder Hardeep Walia talks with staff at Oak Grove Middle School in Fargo, ND. (Bruce Crummy, AP)
  • Sixth graders at Oak Grove Middle School in Fargo, North Dakota, pose for a photo with Motif Investing founder Hardeep Walia, center right rear, and math teacher Dave Carlson, right rear. (Bruce Crummy, AP)
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4 Easy Opportunities to Teach Kids About Money

In addition to setting and tracking goals in BreadVault, there are numerous other ways that you can easily incorporate lessons about money into some of your kids’ daily activities. Here are 4 examples you can try this week:

Get a library card
Do your kids like to read books and watch movies? Instead of buying them or going to a movie theater, see what’s available at your local library. You may not be able to get the new releases right away, but you can sure save a lot of money and teach your kids a lesson about delayed gratification as well!

Shop at a thrift store
You’ve talked with your kids about the importance of saving money, so now teach them about smart ways to spend it. Show them that thrift stores can offer some great used items for a fraction of the cost of buying it new. Plus as a bonus, many thrift store purchases benefit a charitable organization.

Play Monopolymonopoly
Looking for something to do as a family? Pull out Monopoly and play! Not only are you saving money by playing a board game at home, Monopoly will help teach your kids some basic concepts of earning and spending money.

Drink water
Water is free and it’s good for you. We could all probably be drinking more water every day. Show your kids how much other beverages cost. For example, how much more would the total be at the restaurant if everyone had ordered lemonade instead of water?

The Small Things

I posted around this time last year about being the child of parents who survived on debt. It was a look back over my childhood and realizing that children don’t always take on the same habits and tendencies as their parents. Instead, they can learn from them and develop good habits of their own.

However, this year I find myself thinking of the traits and habits that did rub off on me. Even though my parents weren’t the greatest role models for budgeting and money management, they set the bar high when it came to thinking of others and demonstrating kindness.

The best part about it is that their kindness didn’t come in the form of grand gestures or big gifts. It was in the small things that they did for others as they went about their day-to-day activities. Simple things that we all probably take for granted, like:

  • Holding a door open for someone
  • Picking up someone else’s litter
  • Letting someone go ahead of them in line
  • Helping someone across a slippery patch of ice
  • Putting a neglected loose cart away at the grocery store
  • Putting change in donation jars at local retailers
  • Or even simply smiling at someone, or saying “hello”

Now, as an adult, I find myself doing similar types of small, kind acts for others. And more importantly, as a parent, I hope that my kids will watch, learn, and choose to be generous in their own small, random acts of kindness.