Y’all know I’m a huge supporter of teaching your kids / teens / self about personal finance early (long before you rack up huge debt), so I wanted to let you guys know about a new site launching today called BrokePiggy.com. Broke Piggy’s goal is to help teens learn “the ropes of personal finance.” Site founder Grant Baldwin is also the author of Reality Check, a book about helping students transition into the real world.
I chatted a bit with Baldwin about his site, why he put it together, and what BrokePiggy is all about. Here’s what he said…
HECC: What inspired you to launch Broke Piggy?
Balwin: As a youth speaker and author, I see firsthand the challenges facing teenagers today. By the time they graduate, students are very educated in the usual subjects but unfortunately are taught little to nothing about personal finance. You look at what is going on in the economy today, and I got to believe that some of that has to do with people who are uneducated about how to handle their money. I hope that Broke Piggy provides a place to not only educate students about money but helps them find the answers to the questions they’re asking.
HECC: What do you think is the hardest part about educating teens about finance?
Baldwin: The challenges with personal finance for teenagers are the same challenges facing adults. I think issues like personal responsibility for your finances and learning to delay gratification are two big ones. Everyone is looking for a bailout in today’s economy, but I hope to challenge students to take responsibility for their own life regardless of their situation. In addition, no matter how old you are, we all want what we want, and we want it now! We hope to teach students to do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.
HECC: What other resources do you recommend for teens (and anyone else) to learn about personal finance? (websites, books, people, etc)
Baldwin: There is certainly no shortage of resources available for the subject of personal finance. Unfortunately, only a small number of those are directed at teenagers. I like Dave Ramsey and what he teaches. Suze Orman has some solid thoughts directed at teens and 20-somethings, although I don’t agree with all of her philosophies. And of course there are several blogs I follow on the subject. The Helpful Links section on Broke Piggy has more of my favorites.
HECC: What do you wish you knew when you were a teen that you didn’t about personal finance?
Baldwin: I’m of the mindset that there isn’t really anything I would change about my life. Because each and every moment of life (both good and bad) have helped and shape who I am today. If I had never gone $25,000+ into debt, I may never have grasped the significance of teaching students about money.
HECC: How should parents educate their kids about finance? Any tips?
Baldwin: One of the biggest things parents need to know is it’s never too late to start educating their kids about money. You don’t have to have a Masters degree in Finance to help your teens learn about money. Money is something every single one of us deal with, and we’ve all learned a thing or two about what to do and what not to do. Be honest and transparent with your teens, and teach them from your experience. Teach them how to budget, pay bills, prepare their taxes, and other “adult” stuff that they may not learn elsewhere.
HECC: Is it ever too late to learn about personal finance? What about for 20-somethings who are currently deep in debt?
Baldwin: Of course it’s never too late! Unfortunately by the time most of us figure out what we need to know about personal finance, we feel like it’s too late. We’re left wondering why no one told us this information before! Again, that’s where BrokePiggy.com is trying to bridge the gap. We all have to start somewhere and some people learn about this stuff sooner than others. Whether you’re 15, 25, or 85, you still need to know how to handle money. Start where you’re at.
HECC: What can the current state of the economy teach us about personal finance? Is the recession a good thing for youngins?
Baldwin: Our current economy can teach us that personal finance is a big deal. Sure there are banks and major companies that have a large hand in this, but much of it comes down to you and I making poor decisions about how we handle our money on a daily basis. If we handled our money better, we wouldn’t buy things when we didn’t have the money. We wouldn’t take out mortgages we couldn’t afford. We would save, invest, plan, and do things that now we realize we should have been doing all along. I think a recession is good for everyone, because it gets our attention, wakes us up, and shows us we need to pay attention to how we handle our money.
HECC: Where do you see brokepiggy.com in 1-2 years — any larger plans for the site? What are your goals?
Baldwin: To be honest, I’m not sure yet. Right now, I know students have questions about handling money, and I hope BrokePiggy.com can be the place where they can find answers. I love what I get to do as a speaker and author for teens, and I hope that BrokePiggy.com can be an extension of that work.
HECC: What’s one personal finance tip (140 characters or less, tweet style) that you’d impart if you could only give just one?
Baldwin: Avoid debt…live on less than you make…use a budget…START NOW!
HECC: Where are you at, personally, regarding finance. Do you have any goals / regrets lately with your own personal finance journey?
Baldwin: It was just a few years ago that my wife and I had accumulated $25,000 worth of debt in various forms. It took us two years of hard work and sacrifice, but we were able to pay off every dime of that debt. That experience taught us a lot and helped shape who we are. I do have several goals for my personal finances as well as my business as a speaker. So far, 2009 has been a great year!