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 info@breadvault.com 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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Make Generosity Commonplace in Your Home

It’s probably safe to say that most of us want to raise our kids to be kind and generous to others, but maybe aren’t sure how to go about instilling such qualities. Here are some ideas from the BreadVault team on how to raise a charitable child and make generosity commonplace within your home environment:

Set a good example
Most young kids imitate the behaviors of their parents. If you want to raise a generous child, setting a good example for them with charitable giving is a huge step in the right direction.

Talk about causes
Before making a charitable donation, talk about the cause. What is their mission? Who or what are they trying to help? What do they need the most to help them in their efforts?

Talk about giving
When giving your time or money to a cause, talk about why you are doing so and how you are hoping to help. Make sure they understand the reason behind your gift.

Encourage kids to donate
Whether it’s a canned good to a food pantry, toys that aren’t getting played with to needy kids, or a sum of money to a charitable organization, encourage your kids to donate.

Encourage kids to volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to get kids involved with causes while teaching them about service to others. It also teaches them that not all charitable contributions need to be tangible.

Include the whole family
Have your kids help plan a family project or family outing that is meant to benefit a charitable cause. Family bonding while helping others… win-win!

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10 Tips for Saving Money During the Holidays

Has it really been a year already since posting our last top 10 list of ways to save during the holidays? Indeed, it has. And we’re ready again this year with another list of suggestions to keep you from breaking the bank this holiday.

 

  • Tip #1Start now! The longer you wait, the more pressure you’ll feel and risk going over budget.
  • Tip #2Before buying anything, go through your house to see what you have left from last year. Whether it be decorations, gift wrap, or unwanted gifts, you may have forgotten about something you previously stashed away.
  • Tip #3Make a shopping list. A little prep and planning can save you both time and money when you are shopping for gifts.
  • Tip #4Instead of buying something for each member of a family or couple, which can add up quickly, consider giving them one gift to share. For example, movies and popcorn for a family movie night, or tickets to an event everyone will enjoy.
  • Tip #5Check online before you head to the store. Doing some research will help you know when you are getting a good price for your holiday gifts. And maybe the best price is online.
  • Tip #6Consider giving gifts of time or service. If you’re a hair stylist, maybe you can give someone a free haircut. Or something as simple as offering a night of baby-sitting, shoveling their driveway, or taking a relative on an outing.
  • Tip #7Don’t forget about the dollar store. You may be surprised by what you can find, especially when shopping for stocking stuffers.
  • Tip #8If you work in an office where employees exchange gifts, suggest doing a Secret Santa instead so everyone buys for only one person instead of every employee.
  • Tip #9To save on postage, hand deliver your Christmas cards to friends and family that you’ll be seeing during the holiday season.
  • Tip #10When traveling during the holidays, make sure to clean out your vehicle of unnecessary items and avoid over-packing. The lighter your load, the better your gas mileage
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6th Grade Challenge with Motif Investing

In an effort to introduce the stock market and investment options to today’s youngsters, BreadVault’s Ross Almlie is bringing a new challenge to two 6th grade classrooms at Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo, ND.

The challenge: Each student is tasked with deciding on a stock they’d like to invest in and explaining why they made that choice. Then, using the Motif Investing platform, the class will combine their stock choices into their own custom built motif (no actual funds will be invested) to monitor the performance through the end of the school year. The class that has the motif with the highest return wins.

The purpose of this investment challenge is to help kids understand some basic concepts of investing, a topic that is foreign even to many adults. The lessons Ross hopes the students come away with include:

  • The importance of diversification of assets
  • The critical thinking that goes into making investment decisions
  • A basic understanding how changes in the economy affects stock prices
  • A basic understanding of how risk can affect return
  • The importance of working as a team in decision-making simulations

Good luck Oak Grove 6th graders!

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Introducing Kids to Investing

We hear it all the time… “I don’t know where to start when it comes to teaching my kids about investing and the stock market.”

Well, we’ve got good news! BreadVault and Motif Investing are teaming up to help simplify the concept:

It’s Time to Think About Saving for College

The month of September is best known as a time to celebrate our workforce over a long Labor Day weekend and send kids back to the classroom for another school year. But what about it being a time to consider saving for college? That’s right – September is National College Savings Month!

This national holiday might not be as widely known or recognized, but it is a fantastic way to remind families to evaluate what they are doing to prepare for rising college expenses. This National College Savings Month, BreadVault encourages your family to answer the following:

Have you started saving?
The earlier you start saving, the longer your money has to compound and grow. You can also give college savings a boost by incorporating monetary gifts from family members and enrolling in college savings rewards programs, like Upromise.

Are you saving enough?
College costs are rising at a rate of about 5-8% each year. And college related debt is proving to be a major challenge for many recent graduates. To get a better idea of how much you’ll need to save, there are a number of different college cost calculators online, like this one from Savingforcollege.com.

Where are you saving?
There are a number of different account options available when it comes to saving money for college. The most common are 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, and UGMA/UTMA accounts. Do your research and talk with your financial advisor to determine which option is best for you.