I think it’s important to Pay It Forward.
I don’t know why I feel this way, but something tells me that helping people will pay off in spades. I don’t really believe in subsidizing folks however; I am more about teaching them how to think, and I specifically enjoy working with older kids and young adults (11 – 15).
One of the local schools in my town approached me about doing a 4-day finance class as part of their summer camp. I had worked with many of their students in different capacities before, and the president of their board thought that the kids would dig a class all about how to make money…
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Good For Them
Incidentally, I want to give the school props.
They are a charter school and as such they can pretty well do whatever they think is best for the kids. In a national educational system that simply doesn’t seem to make any effort to recognize economic realities, realization that a financial intelligence class is good for the kids is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Not only that, but reaching out to someone who is outside of the teaching profession and is an actual entrepreneur who has not had a job for years, also speaks volumes…:)
Well – the kids loved the experience more than I could have anticipated. My plan for the class was to simply use the Cash Flow game by Robert Kyosaki to underpin a discussion of the basic aspects of personal finance.
On Monday, the first day of class, I planned to cover concepts such as:
- Why people need a job
- Why it may or may not be the best and safest way to generate income, and
- What other ways we can earn money if not a job.
Two things happened that I did not expect. First, while discussing the concept of income and how we need income to cover expenses, when I posed the question of what else we can do for money if not a job, one of the kids answered – build an ATM…
WOW – isn’t this the truth?! As you can imagine, this opened the Pandora’s Box. Naturally, the kid that verbalized the idea of an ATM actually meant a mechanical money-dispensing ATM, and naturally I had some fun with that.
We talked about it, but in the end, having been unable to translate the principal of building an ATM into real terms for the time being, we started the board game. Things remained quite confusing when the first day of camp came to a close…
On The Way Home
I left for the day, and on the way to the car I checked my e-mail.
A message had come-in inviting me to do a walk-through at one of the properties I am considering for my syndicate.
Shoot – I thought to myself. I had been hesitant to commit to doing this camp specifically because of how much time I spend on the road now days looking at deals, and what I was afraid of happened – I needed to skip the class next morning since I could not miss the walk-through…
I came home kinda disappointed and did what I always do – asked my wife what to do. Patrisha is wise beyond her years. She let’s me do whatever when it comes to real estate finance and acquisition, but she takes the lead on everything else and I never argue…
She said – why not make a field trip out of it; it’s what this class is all about anyhow?
Keen sense of the obvious – that’s my wife. I called the director of the school; she called the children’s parents; it was done.
Next morning I picked three kids whose parents signed the releases and we drove for a little over 1 hour each way to walk this apartment community. We were there for about 3 hours.
They heard me speak to the realtor, the property management team, and the maintenance supervisor. They heard me ask questions relative to the operations of this “ATM” – yes, during the car ride to the asset, I tried my best to explain to the kids that this building, if I buy it, will be my ATM…
They sat quietly while I reviewed the updated version of the OM and the latest set of financials. They listened while I asked questions of all present. Then we walked every vacant unit and discussed things with the maintenance supervisor. They saw units that were off-line and in shambles, and others that were rent-ready but vacant.
On The Way Home
We left after about 3 hours.
Needles to say this was an eye-opening experience for the kids. On the way back, they asked me how much I would pay for this property, and I told them. They asked me how I could afford so much money, and I told them that as well.
I explained to them that this property is akin to an ATM not just for me, but for my investors as well…things were beginning to make sense now, and the kids couldn’t wait to get back to the game J
The Moral of This Story
The next two days in class we continued playing, and the children were really into the game.
By the end of the last day in class, all but 1 player had made it out of the “rat race” onto the fast track – the doctor was the only one left behind, which in and of itself was educational. The janitor won, and so did the teacher, but the doctor was carrying too much debt for all of those toys.
We parted after four days. I am a teacher in my heart – I always have been. I get off on seeing the look in someone’s eyes when they wrap their brain around something for the first time.
It’s exciting, and I saw a lot of looks like this over those four days. Those kids left knowing something that most of their classmates and many of their parents may never comprehend, and that is this:
Work hard to build your ATM. Don’t work hard to be the ATM!
I think it’s important to pay it forward.
Brian and I are taking a serious look at the building the kids and I saw, and if everything is as it seems for now we’ll probably make a run for it – I’ll keep you posted.
In the mean time, I encourage everyone reading this to reach out into your communities and to pay it forward. Just by being here on BiggerPockets you are in the top 10% of financially intelligent people in this country, and you should give back.
And Joshua, if you are reading this, perhaps it would be a worthy project to put in place some type of an outreach to school-aged children here at BiggerPockets. This happens to be something I feel passionate about, and while I can and am doing what I can on my own, together we can make a much greater impact!
Talk to me guys – what do you think?
Be sure to leave your comments below!