Online financial education targets old and young
Most people agree that financial education is lacking in this country. But very few know what to do about it. I certainly don't have a magic pill, although I think Annie, a reader who e-mailed me about the topic, might be on to something: "If you...
Most people agree that financial education is lacking in this country. But very few know what to do about it. I certainly don't have a magic pill, although I think Annie, a reader who e-mailed me about the topic, might be on to something: "If you could put something on YouTube, podcast(s) ... a place where teens are ... this topic could make some impact."
Luckily for Annie, whose kids are ages 16, 14 and 10, and anyone else who'd rather log on to learn, the number of YouTube videos and podcasts about money and investing is multiplying. But they can be tough to find. No personal finance-related video downloads come anywhere close to being popular, so they're buried under YouTube sensation after YouTube sensation. And financial services firms tend to have their products placed higher on their Web sites than podcasts.
Here's a guide to some worthy finds on the Web:
* Jack and Doc: Christian Echavarria blames the 401(k) industry he worked in for years for creating confusion and intimidation around investing. He hopes his new venture -- producing animated videos that teach financial concepts to young people -- is an antidote.
Whenever you tell a story that is very visual, I think it's easy for people to absorb," he said about his decision to use video as the medium. He chose online because that's where young people often head in their free time. And because his kids are always doing "seven other things at the same time," he designed his stories about Jack and Doc to be "quick, entertaining and to the point." You can see samples of his videos on YouTube: www.youtube.com/profile?user=Feelsmartabout . Eventually, he'll have both free and pay-per-view episodes at his Web site: www.feelsmartabout.com .
* Feed the pig: I wrote a column about this little piggy when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants launched the site. Man-pig Benjamin Banks serves as a reminder to save, not spend and in one episode helps a young man say no to a big-screen TV. www.feedthepig.org/VideoPage.aspx .
* Savingsman: Savingsman is a superhero featured in several videos at www.Choosetosave.org . He even raps: "They lived in the moment never saving a dime. When they tried to retire, they'd run out of time. Working forever is Tom and Sue's fate, so choose to save now before it's too late!" OK, so maybe his rhymes aren't Grammy-worthy, but he did win a 2007 Emmy in the public-service announcement category. Choosetosave.org also has meatier videos about retirement savings on view.
* Stein on Savings: Online content isn't just for kids. Actor, author and columnist Ben Stein has a three-part series found on YouTube or the National Retirement Planning Coalition's site: www.Retireonyourterms.org . "There are a lot of things to worry about in this world: terrorism, the economy, disease," says Stein in his signature near-monotone. "But of the things we in middle age worry about most, high on the list is retirement." These videos address that fear.
PLENTY OF PODCASTS
Financial lessons abound in the form of podcasts as well.
* Marketplace Money -- a Minnesota Public Radio venture despite the Los Angeles address -- has podcasts of its personal-finance radio show that cover many topics you see in this column: www.marketplace.publicradio.org .
* BusinessWeek is featuring podcasts about promising young entrepreneurs. Listen to stories featuring a guy who started a money magazine for kids and a woman who is producing free area guidebooks for new-to-the-area parents visiting Junior at college. www.businessweek.com/search/podcasting.htm .
* Financial services firms also are dispensing information via audio and, hey, the content is often more interesting than reading the investment materials the companies provide. Notable investor Bill Gross of Pimco, who quotes everyone from Gilbert and Sullivan to Jim Morrison of the Doors, has his own podcasts. www.pimco.com/LeftNav/Featured+Market+Commentary/IO/2007/IO+December.htm .
* Vanguard's Plain Talk on Investing will teach you about weathering a volatile stock market, rolling over an IRA and finding ways to save more money in less time than it takes to boil water. www.personal.vanguard.com/us/PodcastTable?channel=plaintalk
* Minneapolis-based Ameriprise launched two podcasts in 2006 tied to a study about retirement. While they have no new podcasts in the works, spokeswoman Ann Wasik says the company still is considering podcasts and other new media to reach clients. www.ameriprise.com/amp/corporate/podcast.asp?vanity=sponsors-podcasts . Schwab, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price are among the big firms that also have podcasts online.
Kara McGuire writes about personal finance for McClatchy Newspapers. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org .