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  1. #1

    the first baby step for my newbies

    As I previously posted about 6 weeks ago, our boss has opened a Simple IRA plan for us. He acquired the business about 16 months ago and our retirement accounts are starting from ground zero. As soon as the participant with the lowest contributions meets the minimum required balance (specified by our boss), we will be able to start investing.
    After each employee filled out their Simple IRA paperwork, I took them to M* Investing Classroom and had them create their own userID and password. I opened up the Mutual fund lessons to start the tutorials and left them to progress at their own pace.
    Have any of them tried to actually learn anything since then? No. NONE of them have returned to the tutorials since that day. Am I surprised? Nope. Am I disappointed? Yes. After all, this is not a game, this is their *retirement.*
    I decided to try a one-step approach using basic information reviewed in M* Investing's Mutual Fund lessons. Today, I wrote on our employee breakroom's classroom-size dry-erase board a simple description of what a mutual fund is; listed the advantages of investing in mutual funds; and also explained what its ticker symbol, quote and NAV are (definition and examples given). Surprisingly enough, they have finally shown some interest and started asking me questions.
    The answer to helping them learn the basics of investing seems to be brief one-shot doses of information. If that's what it takes, game on!
    Next week I'll show them how to "read" a fund factsheet using one of the Schwab funds we're considering. I think I'll start with the piechart and write the investment strategy below it. A picture is worth a thousand words.
    Why am I doing this? Since they know I have a lot of experience and love investing, they want ME to choose their MFs for them. It is not my job and I refuse to accept the responsibility. They're adults and they MUST learn enough of the basics to make an intelligent decision.

  2. #2
    I highly commend you on your efforts with devoting your time, knowledge, and energy to help others! You are taking a very smart approach with not just telling them what MF's to choose, but actually showing them how to fish. I am not sure what the avg age of your co-workers are or their backgrounds, but it does sound as if the visualization teaching method may be an effective tool. Perhaps a chart of the power of compounding over time can have would resonate. Maybe they feel intimidated also! Not necisscarily speaking of you but by the vast amount of information that one has to learn about investing and the task of deciphering it. One thing is very certain is that they should be very grateful to have a co-worker who is willing to teach them! I having been reading M*(including ur posts) for about the last 8mos and look forward to learning more eachday. The effect you are having far out-reaches your current employer. Thank you!

  3. #3
    I appreciate the encouragement.
    There are several reasons I am posting my efforts here:

    1. HandsOn is my home forum. Anything I post will keep its pulse running. If my posts teach you all something, that's even better. Doing this makes me review everything, too. To help me stay on track --and just for the fun of it!-- I will also do all of the M* Investing classes again.
    2. There are many M* participants who ask many of the same Qs as my coworkers... and you should keep asking. There is no such thing as a dumb question. If you don't know, you should ask.
    3. Posting here will help guide my approach with my coworkers. We all have different triggers in the learning process that makes everything clicks into place: learning by rote, by example (pictorial), reading or verbalizing or by being forced to solve problems or take a test. Or a combo of all of the above.

    Of my 4 coworkers, 2 have worked with me over 20 years, one in her 40s and one in her 60s. I am in my 50s. The younger one has zero interest and has refused to learn. In our old 401k, I had to resort to creating 3 different simple portfolios holding 3-5 MFs, explain what they held and told her to choose. The one in her 60s chose one of the portfolios, too. Then I tried to walk away, but they didn't want to manage it. To help them, together we rebalance their accounts Quarterly. Our old 401ks are now Rollover IRAs and separate from our new Simple. I have told them that I will no longer do the work for them --they have to do the actual rebalancing and investing. I will merely help them if they're not sure how to proceed. (Note: the one in her 60s has become a very good stock-picker but finds MFs boring. I don't care --she still has to learn this, too. I will not be their crutch.)
    My other 2 coworkers were hired by my sister just before my world blew up. One in her early 20s, the other in her late 20s. Both say they want to learn but have balked at everything. I think it is a combination of fear of sounding dumb, disinterest because they think its math and boring and impatience because they shouldn't have to think beyond making a simple choice. They are college graduates.

  4. #4
    I applaud your willingness to help your fellow employees, but I think you're running up against the reality that most people prefer that someone tell them what to do. Obviously, this little character trait has been known to lead to abuses of one sort or another by unscrupulous manipulators, autocrats, etc, throughout history. It is an all too familiar outcome to someone who has been a teacher - "Just tell me what you want me to know". ;-)

  5. #5
    What Racq said. Speaking as a college professor, sometimes you just need to provide the resources and turn the class loose to explore and learn on their own.
    That said, in addition to M* you may want to check out some of Vanguard's literature ... written in plain English, lots of easy to understand charts showing the value of saving/investing, and all in a non-condescending manner that may 'get through' to some of your folks.


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