Maybe one of the best methods for teaching personal finance to kids is to make them laugh.
At Hardin Middle School in Montana, students enjoyed some laughs and learned important facts about personal finance, thanks to Nikko Raymo and Laurel Schuessler, two talented performers from the National Theatre for Children, based in Minneapolis.
Funding was provided by the office of Montana Securities Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen for Raymo and Schuessler to travel to Montana and visit 14 schools. They only had a week to develop their 45 minute show, so they often rely on improvisation. Students wrote words on paper that was put in an idea bucket, which they drew upon during their performance and worked into their routine. Some of the ideas included “Duck Dynasty”, “turtles”, and Aéropostale”.
In one sketch, Schuessler played Cher Hairdo, the host of a game show called “You Decide It.” Raymo played a dopey contestant, and Hardin Middle School student Starla Red Wolf played the other, brighter contestant. Naturally, she won the contest, and afterward she was asked whether she would take all her earnings and invest the money now, or take a larger payment when she’s 50. It turns out she’d earn twice as much by taking the smaller amount now. “The difference,” Cher Hairdo told the crowd, “is time. You’re young, and that’s an advantage.”
During another sketch, Raymo played a sleazy used car salesman, with Schuessler as his customer. When he told her paying cash for the car she liked would cost $11,000 and disclosed another option, including the interest rate and the length of the loan, she complained that price would be $15,000. “Don’t ask me how I did the math,” she said during an aside to the surprised audience. “I just did.”
Afterward, Schuessler said she’s not against people using credit cards — when they’re used wisely and responsibly.