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.

12 Months to a Better Understanding of Money

This year, we at BreadVault propose that every parent make a resolution to teach their kids something new about money each month. Sound challenging? It doesn’t have to be!

Here are some suggestions for how to introduce a money-related topic to your kids during each month of the year:

January Have your kids set savings goals for the year. Count up the money they have saved already and determine how much more is needed. You can then use BreadVault to track their progress.

February Introduce your kids to America Saves Week. They’ve already made savings goals last month, now encourage them to make a pledge to save for those goals. Also take a look at what others are pledging to save for.

March A month away from Tax Day, take a moment to teach your kids something about federal and state income taxes. Maybe you’ll even learn something new yourself!

April Since 2011, April has been recognized as Financial Literacy Month. Try finding an age appropriate book or video about money that you can share with your kids.

May Have your kids help plant a small garden in your yard, on your patio, or a community garden.

June Encourage your kids to brainstorm a way to earn extra money during the summer to help them reach their savings goals faster.

July Find an opportunity to volunteer.

August Include your kids in back to school shopping by letting them help plan a shopping trip. Make a list, set a budget, look for coupons, etc.

September As you celebrate Labor Day, remind your kids that the holiday is a celebration to honor the achievements of American workers who made our country what it is today.

October Have your kids pick a stock and track its performance. They can even make a portfolio of stocks to track with Motif Investing.

November As you reflect on what you are thankful for during Thanksgiving, remind your kids of those in need. Encourage them to look through their belongings and see if there are things they could donate to bring joy to a needy child.

December Look into organizations or churches that have Giving Trees. Let your kids select a tag for someone in need. Even better to involve them in the shopping, wrapping and dropping off the donated gift(s).

5 Bonus Post-Holiday Money Saving Tips

Saving money is more likely top of mind as you’re trying to stretch your budget for holiday gifts, but what about after the holidays? This is a great time to get a jump start on saving money for next year. As part 2 to our previous post about saving money this holiday season, here are 5 bonus tips to think about for after-holiday savings.


  • Bonus Tip #1Be ready for holiday leftovers by making sure you have some recipes on hand. Casseroles and soups tend to be popular, easy ways to incorporate those leftovers.
  • Bonus Tip #2If you end up with gift cards you know you won’t use, check with friends to see if they are in the same situation. Maybe you can swap!
  • Bonus Tip #3Save those gift bags, bows, and tissue paper to reuse next year.
  • Bonus Tip #4Designate a place in your home for gifts that you don’t think you will use. This stockpile can be used for re-gifting (it is OK to re-gift!) or included in your summer garage sale.
  • Bonus Tip #5Start shopping for next year’s gifts early so you can watch for sales. Just make sure you remember where you store them so you won’t forget about them next year!
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