Financial Education: 3 Great Sites for Money Lessons on Video

Last Updated Mar 24, 2011 10:57 AM EDT

We are a video culture. YouTube saw to that. The writer in me laments this predilection for couch-potato learning, much as I agonize over the mutant English on your mobile device's text log. But I have to say that, when it comes to reaching teens on important topics like financial know-how, the video thing has emerged as a parent ally.

We can talk and talk about budgets, credit cards, saving and investing. We can choose optimal times to be heard. We can choose cool ways to reach our teens.

But young people don't want to be preached to and they don't want to be handed brochures or instruction sheets. This generation is growing up in an electronic on-demand world. They Tivo. They wiki. They podcast. In short, they tune in what they want when they want.

Enforcing some structure on teen learning remains important. But because personal finance generally is not taught in school -- no structure -- and it is often not taught at home either, it makes sense to reach kids where they are reachable, and video may be the optimum medium.

The good news is that financial literacy video resources are popping up everyday. Here are three that parents, teachers, teens and twentysomethings should look at:
  • Knowledge@Wharton High School The venerable Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has joined the teen financial education movement. This is a relatively new initiative, and I found the gold-plated content to be a tad elitist. Sniff. But I love the video glossary, which features Wharton professors on camera defining financial terms in language that teens will relate to. "Signing bonus" (see what I mean about elitist) is defined by professor Adam Grant using football player Randy Moss as an example instead of, say, some investment banker no one heard of before his indictment.
  • Burningmoney This is another newish site, run by the young entrepreneurs at FoolProof Financial Education Systems, which creates content to help kids learn about money. They have a no-nonsense series of videos aimed squarely at teens and young adults with subject matter like mooching, buying a used car and your first day at work. In one segment, a hunk on a skateboard offers five great questions to ask before any purchase. They have a fun video of 10 reasons you're about to move back home with Mom and Dad.
  • Kahn Academy This one you may already know about. I first mentioned the website here. Endorsed by Bill Gates, the site has some 2,200 short learning videos on math and science, including healthy subsets on economics, banking and money, and finance. More than 1 million students a month tune in at their convenience. The founder, Salman Kahn, is a former hedge fund analyst who got the idea for his site while tutoring his cousins in another city. For fun, he loaded a chalkboard demo on YouTube and found his cousins loved learning that way. Here's a fresh video from the TED conference, where the founder took 20 minutes to tell his amazing story:
As Kahn points out: His cousins "preferred me on YouTube...now they could pause and repeat...review something they should have learned a couple weeks ago...watch at their own pace." I can't say it any better.

Photo courtesy Flickr user gbaku
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  • Dan Kadlec

    Daniel J. Kadlec is an author and journalist whose work appears regularly in Time and Money magazines. He is the former editor of Time’s Generations section, which was written and edited for boomers. Kadlec came to Time from USA Today, where he was the creator and author of the daily column Street Talk, which anchored the newspaper's business coverage. He has co-written three books, including, most recently, With Purpose: Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life. He has won a New York Press Club award and a National Headliner Award for columns on the economy and investing.

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