The NYU building where we spoke
The NYU building where we spoke

We’ve officially corrupted some youths with our subversive anti-consumerism, frugal weirdo manifesto. Mr. Frugalwoods and I had the honor of delivering a presentation to New York University students on Wednesday about the alternative path we’re taking through life. These eager, intelligent young people only seemed mildly shocked by the concept of early retirement and, based on their insightful questions, they know A LOT more about personal finance than I did as an undergraduate.

Erin of Broke Millennial also presented and we served on a panel together. She is charming, witty, and has a fabulous repertoire of knowledge on all things credit, debt repayment, banking, and more. I learned a great deal from both Erin’s presentation and our subsequent conversation. I love meeting people who nerd out over personal finance as much as I do!

The Q&A section of our panel ran long and we could’ve continued Q-ing and A-ing long into the night. To say that it’s invigorating to share our passion for living a savvy, frugal life is a major understatement. I’ve never presented on anything that I’ve felt so astoundingly passionate about. Speaking to groups of folks about early retirement and frugality wasn’t necessarily on our radar before NYU reached out to us, but, I sincerely hope this was the first of many such gigs.

Walking through Washington Sq Park on our way to NYU
Walking through Washington Sq Park on our way to NYU

I firmly believe that we do our students (and adults for that matter) a supreme disservice by not incorporating personal finance into our educational curricula. Not just at the collegiate level, but in middle and high schools too–heck, even elementary schools! Mr. FW and I are grateful to NYU for inviting us and for prioritizing a talk on personal finance for their students.

Having the opportunity to spread our non-conformist message was exhilarating and, now that I’ve tasted it, I crave more! So, if anyone is looking for some frugal weirdos to speak about financial independence… look no further.

Though Frugal Hound was sadly not there in the flesh (or in the fur, as it were), she was an integral part of our sweet power point presentation and hopefully there are some future greyhound adopters roaming the NYU campus now.

Classic NYC
Classic NYC

I showed my age during the Q&A section when I tried to discreetly ask Mr. FW  what “OG” means, but of course everyone heard and now knows that I am old and do not know about original gangsters. People, I turned 31 on Monday so clearly it’s all downhill from here.

I had the realization after our presentation that this is what it feels like to truly enjoy, and believe in, the work you’re doing. I gotta tell you, nothing makes me happier than preaching the frugal gospel.

After our presentation, we took the subway over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and had dinner at our friends K and J’s lovely apartment. They whipped up fabulous tacos and we listened to mariachi music while discussing plans for the future. There’s nothing better than savoring a home-cooked meal with super smart friends who make you think. We kept them up far past their bedtime before we trekked back to our hotel (where we promptly demonstrated what responsible adults we are by watching a Boy Meets World marathon until 1am).

Yep, we packed everything for our trip into Mr. FW's hiking pack. We're not fans of bringing loads of stuff on trips.
We packed everything for our trip into Mr. FW’s hiking pack and my purse. We’re not fans of bringing loads of stuff on trips.


The block I used to live on in Crown Heights Brooklyn
The block I used to live on in Crown Heights Brooklyn

Yesterday we slept late (no Frugal Hound to howl us awake) and then ventured out to Crown Heights, Brooklyn where I lived right after college while in Americorps. The neighborhood was almost unrecognizable.

When I lived there, it was incredibly impoverished and crime-riddled with no grocery store, few viable business, and a seriously grungy laundromat. The gentrification that occurred in the intervening 9 years is astonishing, and perhaps somewhat concerning.

The Associate Dean of Students, who organized our NYU presentation, asked me what I think about the viability of early retirement for people with low incomes. And my honest response is that I don’t know.

I’m so acutely aware of the profound privilege Mr. Frugalwoods and I enjoy and I fully acknowledge that reaching financial independence is, for us, a product of both our incomes and our savings.

The view I had from my apartment in Crown Heights
The view I had from my apartment in Crown Heights

It’s expensive, challenging, and often depressing to be poor. I gained some insight into the experience when I lived in Crown Heights, but I have no idea what it actually feels like to truly be in poverty. To be enmeshed in the cycles of disadvantage that families can find themselves trapped in generation after generation. To not have loving, financially stable friends and family I could call upon. To not feel enfranchised to seek out financial advice.

As we drank artesian coffee and munched a homemade doughnut in a tragically chic cafe worthy of a Portlandia skit all its own, I wondered what had happened to my former Crown Heights neighbors. Clearly they’d been priced out; likely pushed deeper into Brooklyn, farther away from desirable subway lines, access to healthy foods, and proximity to the nexus of wealth and power–Manhattan.

Me checking out my former apartment
Me checking out my former apartment


Mr. FW navigating Chinatown
Mr. FW navigating Chinatown

After our jaunt down my own personal memory lane, we journeyed into Chinatown, which is so stereotypically bustling, raucous, and smelly that it almost seems like a movie set.

At one point, we encountered a guy walking down the sidewalk carrying a two-by-four with nails sticking out, being passed by an elderly Chinese couple toting a dead goose by the neck, with a construction worker jackhammering in the gutter, and a bevy of firetrucks blocking the street (unknown why).

I sincerely wish I’d captured this moment on film for you, but I was too busy busting a gut laughing and trying not to get knocked down in the melee. New York City is so absurdly, delightfully wonderful. It truly is the most extreme form of urban existence.

We met up with one of my former college roommates, J, at Vanessa’s Dumpling House, which I cannot recommend highly enough. For a mere $7, Mr. FW and I feasted on an array of delectable steamed dumplings and sesame pancakes along with a red bean bun (my personal favorite).

Cafe in Crown Heights
Cafe in Crown Heights

We liked it so much, we bought another $7 worth for our dinner on the train ride home. We brought granola bars to eat for dinner, but felt the splurge was well worth it. Dumplings > granola bars. J is a lawyer who represents tenants rights cases and I deeply admire his dedication to justice for people who otherwise wouldn’t have an advocate. He’s one awesome and inspiring guy.

For the remainder of our 48 hour whirlwind in NYC, Mr. Frugalwoods and I employed our typical travel methodology of strolling with periodic stops for coffee. It’s our preferred mode for catching the flavor of any city in the world and, it’s a dirt cheap way to sightsee.

Another coffee shop we found had tubes!
Another coffee shop we found had tubes!

I honestly don’t need the Museum of Modern Art (at $25 per person I might add) when I can watch the parade of creative humanity that patrols the NYC streets. After all, what could be more encapsulating of modern art than the user-generated graffiti of a subway car.

I had forgotten how electrifying, overwhelming, fascinating, disgusting, wealthy, vibrant, delicious, poverty-stricken, and utterly singular New York is. It’s the type of place I adore visiting but am so terribly glad not to live in anymore. It is, for me, the very incarnation of a sensory overload and I loved every minute.

Did you receive any financial education as a student?

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  1. Congratulations on the speaking gig! I bet you were fantastic!

    There really is no place like NYC. I went to grad school there, and spent a few years working there, afterwards. At the time, I considered it the center of the universe, and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Now, I can’t imagine living there! (Too crowded, dirty, potentially unsafe, and expensive!)

    I’m 40, so is it at acceptable that I neither know what “OG” stands for, nor what “original gangsters” refers to? 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Amy! We had a wonderful time and it really was an honor. Crowded, dirty, expensive–yes! And weirdly wonderful too ;)! So glad to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t know that OG= original gangster.

    1. Oh very cool! I received basically zero financial education, so I’m always glad to hear that other people did.

  2. Sorry, Mrs. FW, but I’m 48 and I know what OG means so you can’t blame your age! ;D

    I received no financial education whatsoever. My dad was pretty bad with money to put it mildly.

    And I LOVE New York. I grew up about an hour away, but went into “the city” (in New Jersey you never call it New York City or New York or Manhattan, it’s always “the city”) a lot and even worked for Citibank’s data entry center at the World Trade Center for a couple of years. I try to go back at least once a year.

    And you lived in Crown Heights? Yikes. Then again Bedford-Styvesant, a/k/a Bed Stuy, is turning into a yuppie enclave. Back in the eighties you couldn’t have paid me to walk through there in broad daylight packing a gun.

    1. Haha, you’re way hipper than me! New York is such a fantastically unique spot–definitely a favorite of mine to visit. That’s neat that you used to live there!

      Yeah, Crown Heights was pretty rough when I lived there and the transformation now is incredible. Bed Stuy is definitely on its way, especially if rental prices are any indication!

  3. Congrats on the accomplishment, shaping young minds is an awesome opportunity! Im sure y’all rocked it and they will invite you back for more. Who knows, maybe they will eventually honor you with an honorary degree – the ultimate frugal way for a free degree. That would make a heck of a blog post.

    I never received any formal or informal financial education. My high school statistics teacher gave us a little talk on compound interest and contributing the max to an IRA starting at 18 and how well we would do. It didn’t stick, I wasn’t ready at the time.

    1. Thanks so much! It was a blast and an absolute privilege :). Yeah, I didn’t receive any financial ed either and I certainly didn’t start an IRA at 18!

  4. Congratulations for your presentation! I unfortunately did not receive financial education, I agree with you when you say that financial education should be integrated in educational curricola. Anyway, I hope to be able to teach to my children what I have learnt thanks to personal financial blogs world.

    1. Thank you, Sabrina! That’s wonderful that you’re instilling financial lessons in your kids–what a great gift to give them!

  5. “watch the parade of creative humanity that patrols the NYC streets” – I think you would enjoy the Humans of New York blog, it’s one of my favourite.

    1. You are correct–I do indeed enjoy Humans of New York! That is such a fascinating project, love it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. LOL O.G. Original Gangster was an album by Ice-T in 1991! You were 7. You should have been heavily influenced by rap at that point, right? (I wasn’t really an Ice-T fan other than his fantastic (read:ridiculus) acting in Law and Order S.V.U).

    I wasn’t given any financial education in college. We did have to try to do a budget in a high school class which did show how hard it is on smaller incomes with multiple children! Wasn’t mind-blowing but one of those things that’s obvious after the fact.

    It’s so funny with people and cities. We lived outside or in Philly for 10 years. We’re glad to be out in a more suburban area with a smaller local city. So much less stressful. I can’t imagine having to deal with that kind of stuff every day.

    Are guys you ever going to share the presentation?

    1. Oh man, I guess I missed the Ice-T boat! Totally dropped the ball there at the age of 7 ;).

      I had basically zero financial education as well–I don’t think I ever even had to make a budget in school!

      The presentation was in power point and most of the meaty content was our talking, so I don’t think it’d be too interesting for me to share (happy to email it to you though if you’re interested 🙂 ). But rest assured that I only used Frugal Hound photos that have already been on the blog 😉

  7. Congrats on the talk!

    I read a lot of Robert Kiyosaki stuff as a kid (and played his kid-targeted games as well). And, with the exception of the vast over-leveraging thing, it got me on a decent path thinking about money, investment, and FI. Also since my father was a day trader I was pretty comfortable with the concept fairly young. Never learned anything about finance in school, though.

    1. Thanks! Sounds like you had a pretty good financial basis as a kid–that’s great! I definitely never learned about anything remotely personal finance related in school either.

  8. Sensory overload is right! I’m glad you enjoyed NYC. I just renewed my lease in Manhattan for another year, but after that I may try something new as 2 years in NYC might be enough for me! Only issue is for my line of work, you usually have to work in one of the top 15 largest cities in the US.

    Very few other places on earth you’ll see a $300k Ferrari driving by a guy panhandling, with everyone in between walking down the street.

    1. It’s definitely a unique place, no doubt about that. I could only tough it out for a year there, so I’m impressed you’re making it at least two!

    1. I was bummed that the MOMA free hours didn’t align with our trip–I would definitely go there if I didn’t have to pay :)! But, the city itself is just so stunning to me. I’m always so impressed that you live there so successfully–that’s awesome!

  9. Wow! I’m bowled over by the fact that NYU actually took the initiative to organize an early retirement/frugality minded event. And good for you for what you did there!

    Reading your post put me back in touch with the core reason I do my blog. I’ve yet to try to monetize it. To quote myself (sorry), “the whole point of Retired To Win is to help you become financially independent sooner rather than later.” And you know what? Doing that makes me feel really good.

    Keep them coming!

    1. I’m with you–I was so impressed that NYU prioritized this type of talk for their students. Definitely not something I heard when I was in college! And, that’s wonderful that your mission is to help other folks along this journey–it really is rewarding.

  10. Congrats! I wish I’d attended such an event when I was in school. How lucky are those students! Personal finance should be a mandatory course in high school and/or college. You’d be surprised how many of my friends who are IN THEIR 30s do not fully understand the benefits of repaying debt, compounded interest, and Roth and tax deferred retirement accounts. Any chance you are posting your presentation somewhere?

    Also, exploring cities on foot and taking in the sights and sounds on the streets is my favorite way of sightseeing. As an urban planner I love geeking out on archetecture, streetscapes, and public transit.

    1. Agreed on mandatory personal finance courses! It’s such a woefully overlooked topic and people can, sadly, go through much of their lives without realizing what they could/should be doing with their money. I love architecture and public transit too–it’s so enjoyable just to take it all in!

      Regarding the presentation–most of the content was in our speaking and not in the power point itself. So, I probably won’t post the power point because it’s not terribly content-rich. Though it does have Frugal Hound photos :)!

  11. What a fun trip! I’ve never been to New York. I’m sure I’ll get there some day.
    As for financial education, I had an economics class in high school, but the power of saving money sunk in with me in 9th grade when a substitute teacher diverted from the lesson plan to talk about compound interest. I think he framed it as “the most important piece of information we needed to know.” I listened though I don’t think anyone else did. I have no idea who that sub was and I never saw him again, but he sure did make a difference that day!

    1. You should definitely go to NYC at least once! It’s just such a fabulous experience and so unlike any other US city.

      Wow–what a great substitute teacher! That’s awesome that you listened and remembered. I wonder if he was/is a personal finance blogger!

  12. I recently read Kiyosaki’s new book, Second Chance, which has some great thoughts about low-income people and early retirement. You should check it out. I too would’ve LOVED to hear you guys speak along with Erin. I hear you about the entertainment value of people watching. It’s the same here at the State Fair. Who needs rides and $9 beers when you can sit on a bench with bottled water from home and be entertained for hours on end by simply watching the people go by? 🙂

    1. I’ll have to check out that book, thank you for the recommendation, Laurie. You’re sweet to say you’d like to watch us speak–I’d like to listen to YOU speak!

      Agreed on the benefits of people watching :). There’s really nothing else quite as entertaining.

  13. Neat! I’ve done live panels before (ages ago, very different subject matter) and they’re fun once you get over the initial crowd terror. Podcasts are more my speed though, as the alcohol consumption involved helps lubricate my speech centers. Haven’t done any of those in ages either.

    1. Hahah, thanks! Fortunately/bizarrely, I’ve actually always enjoyed public speaking, as has Mr. FW. For two largely introverted people, it’s an odd element of our personality 🙂

  14. You didn’t know what OG was? 🙂 I guess my rough upbringing on the tough streets of Cary*, NC taught me basic acronyms like that.

    That sounds like a cool trip and a good chance to drop some knowledge bombs on the minds of our youth.

    * It’s actually a pretty wealthy ‘burb right next to Raleigh NC. But I did grow up on the poorer, rougher side of town. You could get run over by a speeding Mercedes if you didn’t watch out. 🙂

    1. Oh man, does everybody know about OG except for me? I’m terrible with all things pop culture. Like embarrassingly terrible.

  15. My “financial education” consisted of my dad making me read The Millionaire Next Door when I was 14, and again when I got married. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a stats-nerd! My dad, who was self employed, retired at 45 and now his business consists of managing a few industrial properties he owns.

    His and my paths to financial independence might not be the same (I don’t have the same appetite for debt-risk that he does), but the “live on the smallest part of your income that you can bear” certainly got inherited!

    1. That’s awesome that your dad forced you to read The Millionaire Next Door! I think I’ll make that required reading for our future kids too :).

  16. So glad that NYU had a presentation regarding personal finance and included you guys. I think it’s great that students learn more about personal finance and the possibility of early retirement. As for the Associate Dean’s question, I think it is much tougher to reach financial independence with a low income, especially if you live in a high cost of living area. Which brings me to my question…since I’ve been thinking about early FI a lot recently. How viable is early FI (like 30/40) in a place like NYC? My wife and I have decent incomes, not great but good. We’re pretty damn frugal but the cost of housing makes it very difficult to save a large percentage or to have a paid off house before FI. That and the cost of child care and state, city taxes on top of federal taxes…as well as student loans makes it more difficult.

    1. That’s a great question as well, Andrew. NYC is such an expensive spot. We feel that housing cost to some extent here in Cambridge, but it’s certainly higher where you are. Sometimes I think the city helps us out (since we can bike/walk/transit most places), but then our mortgage is awfully expensive.

      Another balancing factor for us is that we make more money here in the city than we would in a lower COL city, say in the midwest. But, I think that at the end of the day, if you love living in NYC, then it’s worth it. Are you planning on staying there long term?

      1. Yes, I think we plan on staying here long term. If we decided to move to a lower COL area, I think we could attain early FI. But both my wife and mine families as well as friends are here so it’s tough to leave. Though sometimes it’s still tempting sometimes to dream about moving away and living a more laid back life…

  17. It was so amazing to meet you two in person and I love sharing the floor with you. I’m a little bummed I didn’t get to meet Frugal Hound, but it’s a sweet satisfaction that I know what the two of you look like in person. 😛 And Vanessa’s is indeed amazing. One of my favorite go-to spots for a cheap night out. Looking forward to seeing you both again at FinCon.

    1. It was amazing to meet you too, Erin! We had a blast! You’ll have to take a trip up to Boston sometime to meet Frugal Hound 🙂

  18. Awesome you were able to be a part of the talk there at NYU! I could not agree more that we need more teaching on personal finance basics in schools. I know there wasn’t any when I was in school and believe we’re doing future generations far worse than good by not including more of it – especially with studies coming out proving it works. Anyway, sounds like you had a blast in NYC. We just found out we’ll be there in June and the best part is a client is paying for it. 🙂 We’re going to have a day or two just to ourselves and looking forward to just people watching on the streets.

    1. Thanks so much, John! We were honored to be there! Agreed on the need for more financial ed in schools–it’s kind of ridiculous that students don’t learn anything about how to manage their adult financial lives.

      Have fun in NYC in June! Eat at Vanessa’s ;)!

  19. I wish I knew you were going to be in NYC, I was there yesterday and would have loved to see you!! I am glad that you had such a great trip and that you were able to talk to the NYU students about your life choices. I didn’t get a financial education when I was in college and I think that it’s something every school should offer. We need to know more about managing our money than we do about most of what I learned at school.

    1. Oh no, I totally dropped the ball there! I should’ve told you we’d be there! Dang!

      And, agreed on the need for financial education–we do ourselves such a disservice as a society by not teaching it to our students.

  20. In particular there needs to be a serious course that students have to take before they take out loans for college. I do take responsibility for my loans, but I have many issues with the way we handle student loans in this country. Who in their right minds gives 18-22 year olds up to $250,000 in loans when they don’t have employment with a known salary? Especially since we know that the frontal lobe, which aids in making rational decisions, is not fully developed until age 25.

    Many things change in four years, including majors, which affects earning potential. It is astoundingly easy to take out vast sums of money for college, even easier than it is to get a mortgage or a credit card. There is less paperwork and less understanding of what you’re signing up for. And should worse come to worst, you can declare bankruptcy and wipe out that consumer debt (not to mention is far less likely to reach the amount of student loan debt), or walk away from a house you can no longer afford. There is no way to wipe out student loan debt and your family may be stuck with it even if you pass away.

    I am so tired of the statistic that the “average” student owes about $30,000. Myself and most people I know owe north of $100,000. $30,000 is a reasonable year’s salary and would be doable within five to ten years depending on income and other expenses; $100,000 is a mortgage.

    1. So well said, Caitlin. Thank you for sharing this. I completely agree with you. I think the system is almost criminal–we should not be saddling 18-yr-olds with this kind of life-long debt. It’s completely absurd and inappropriate.

  21. Congrats on your recent talk! Way to go! How did NYU hear about you guys? Was FW mentioned then? What were some of the not so typical questions the kids asked? Just curious how it all happened! And yes dumplings < granola bars. mmmm…

    I received no financial education either formal or through my parents. In fact, I think I learned what NOT to do by watching my dad/parents. (He was a gambling addict, alcoholic, we were on food stamps, free lunch program as school, he almost lost the house due to bankruptcy and my mom saved it with her credit cards – all the while he kept all his finances secret and my mom was not allowed to know anything. Awful situation to witness.) I just knew I had to do it better than my parents, obviously!

    I was a super responsible kid and saved all birthday money without any desire to spend it. When mom let us pick out a candy bar after grocery shopping (only if we didn't act like monkeys in the store), I'd compare all the bars and see which bar gave me the cheapest chocolate per ounce in the largest form. Yes, can you see an 9 year old inspecting the net weight of Nestle, Snickers, etc.? They all laugh at that saying I was so indecisive, but I was actually doing some price comparisons (I think Nestle Crunch was a top contender)! In college, I played landlady to my dad's condo. From ages 19-22, I advertised and interviewed renters, rented out the rooms, collected rent, and lived in the smallest so that I could cover the mortgage with the rent (not to mention I was assistant manager to a Subway restaurant, all while taking 18 credits). Then I'd walk over to the bank and pay the mortgage in person. This also meant I had to come up with a plan for the utilities payments so I wasn't fronting all the bills while waiting for roomies to pay up. Also, I had to sock away any extra rental income to cover repairs and handymen – which meant I had to do some price adjustment for each room based on historical expenses. My dad lucked out with me! No one told me how to do this, or even suggested how I do it. It's what I came up with on my own (one sister lived in the condo when I left and she did it quite the opposite).

    Then with the purchase of my first home at 27, I took a first time homebuyers class that was mandatory for a particular loan. I remember how simple and non-informative it all was. Going over the price comparisons with pancakes, ie. making them from scratch, making them from a box mix (generic and fancy brand), to eating panckaes out. I was thinking this has to be taught? But yes, it does to many individuals out there!

    1. Wow, Shannon! That’s an incredible financial education! I’m so impressed you managed a condo by yourself at that age! Wow. You could TEACH the first time homebuyers class!

      To answer your question–NYU approached us because their Associate Dean is a Frugalwoods reader. So, we gave the presentation as the Frugalwoods. Our talk was mostly about what the blog is about–the nontraditional path vs. the consumer conventional path; finding your true purpose; avoiding consumerism; loving frugality; and retiring early.

  22. Ok, first of all, I love BMW! That’s the best show ever 🙂 I’ve been to NYC once but I actually kind of hated it. It’s loud and noisy and dirty. Nothing like my native land, haha. 😉 It was okay to visit but I could never ever imagine living there!

    1. Hahaha, yes! Cory and Topanga forever ;). NYC was a major culture shock for me when I moved there from Kansas, that’s for sure!

    1. That’s great that you’re teaching your younger brother! It’s certainly too bad that it’s not part of most curricula.

  23. Gentrification is considered a dirty word, but urban development is considered a goal. The difference in my mind is that gentrification comes at the expense of current residents because capital (social, financial, and human) are hoarded by the investors. Urban development happens when capital flows freely among new residents and established residents.This ends up being mutually beneficial though not every person will benefit equally which means that some people will definitely get priced out of a neighborhood.

    I personally am a person who is at risk of causing gentrification (earning approx 2.5 times the neighborhood average, fixing up a house in a growing neighborhood, majority culture in a minority culture neighborhood, etc.). My personal solution is to seek to learn as much as possible from my neighbors, and to take genuine interest in their lives, so that if helping them is in order, I can, as a friend, not as some activist with an agenda.

    1. Great points about gentrification vs. urban development. Our current neighborhood is experiencing more of what I’d call urban development. It’s been a gradual growth in an area where most current/original residents own their homes. We, for example, bought our home from a couple who’d lived here for 25 years. So, it was a wonderful retirement move for them to sell and move to a smaller, newer spot.

      That’s wonderful that you’re building those relationships in your community–that’s such a crucial part of it, in my opinion.

  24. When our oldest was in kindergarten, she came home one day with a cardboard bank and announced that someone from Junior Achievement (JA) had visited their classroom. She went on to explain that the JA person had talked to them about the importance of saving money. I was knocked out!

    Financial education should start in kindergarten. Maybe not compound interest, but it wouldn’t hurt to plant some seeds about what money is, how it is earned and what it can be used for.

    I didn’t have any until sophomore year of high school when I had one semester of consumer education.. We learned how to compare prices on cans of food and how to balance a checkbook. It was useful information, but why did it wait until high school?

    Parents should really be responsible, but a whole lot of adults don’t know much either (“Hey, look at my new Audi financed for 7 years at 6%!!!”).

    My parents never discussed it and my dad’s income was a secret. Fortunately, I figured out where paycheck stubs were kept, so I found out for myself! The problem was that I knew how much the house and cars cost, but had no idea how much money it took to buy all of that stuff. I never had a measuring stick.

    I’m going to be completely open with my children. When they are mature enough, we will discuss income and all matters money.

    1. That’s awesome that your daughter learned about saving money in kindergarten! I agree with you, the earlier it starts, the better. I like that you’re planning to be totally open with your kids about money–you’ll be giving them such a wonderful gift of financial literacy! We’re completely transparent about finances with Frugal Hound, but it doesn’t seem to be sinking in. She’ll eat the treat instead of saving it every single time.

  25. I do remember taking a math class my junior year in high school that taught us all about checkbooks, banking, etc.

    A few weeks ago the hubby and I were talking about finances and my daughter piped up, ‘how are we supposed to learn about all of this?’ She is a freshman and taking geometry but what about the basics? It does need to be brought back. In the meantime, we will try to educate our kids at home!

    1. I think it’s wonderful you’re teaching your kids about money at home! It’s just not focused on enough (if at all) in schools. Kind of scary considering how incredibly important it is!

  26. That sounds very exciting! I think it’s great that you were able to spread the word about financial responsibility. I don’t remember ever getting any type of information about money matters except for a presentation in law school. I haven’t ever been to NYC, but I hope to go next year. I feel like it’s something I must do for my own personal development. LOL

    1. Yes, definitely go to NYC at least once :)! It’s a real cultural experience and so unlike any other city in the US. And, totally possible to visit frugally.

    1. I really missed the boat here in not telling people in advance ;)! Sorry about that, Cat! What was I thinking?!?

  27. Since we are the geriatric people that read your site I must say you are entirely correct, financial soundness needs to be taught to all age groups. Wish it had been around when either my husband or myself needed it seriously bad.

    PS Happy B’Day a bit belated.

    1. I know I wish I’d learned about personal finance in school–it just wasn’t ever explicitly addressed, let alone taught. We do our society such a disservice, I think, in not educating our kids about how money will impact the rest of their lives.
      PS. Thank you for the birthday wishes!
      PPS. I love having readers of all ages. Adds to the depth of our conversations, so thank you!

  28. That sounds like an amazing opportunity! Emily at evolvingpf.com has given several talks at grad schools geared for PhD students. She’s been trying to organize a talk at my school too =P.

    I got zero personal finance education from school. My parents were naturally frugal, and it wasn’t until I started earning my own money that their habits really came out in me.
    At the same time, my dad tried to give me investing advice once. He knew about all the different financial instruments, but he did not know about low cost index investing, and guided me to some John Hancock and other front loaded funds.
    Thankfully I discovered Bogleheads, and later MMM before I actually started investing (though, I sat out of the stellar Q3,Q4 2013 and Q1, Q2 2014 markets after hearing my dad’s advice and actually investing).

    1. Well, it’s great that you did start investing–that’s what matters! And, it’s awesome that you learned frugality from a young age. That’s a wonderful lesson!

  29. I had a bit of education in 7th grade I believe. We picked out papers that told us what our family life was married earning blank. Then we had some cost. We also picked stocks at one point and tracked them for a time period. I always wished I remembered better. But I’m sure the awareness was ignited.

    In university I attended a talk and it was an eye opener in the sense that they talked about wealth distribution. The speaker owned his own financial firm or bank. He talked about budgeting in the sense of finding out if your income was greater then your spending.

    One comment that really stuck me was when he said he taught his daughter about money. That he didn’t teach her about house keeping because when she could take over for him she could always pay someone else to do that. It was like what? And OK I see that all in one.

    1. That’s great that you had some financial education in school. Certainly better than nothing!

  30. i learned about personal finance at community college. ( Can you believe the tuition was $230 a semester for 15 credits , even so I thought that was as much money there was in the world.) though I didn’t practice what I learned for a few years eventually I saw the light (I owe it to my wife) our mantra – No debt, none and save before spending. The result: a daughter and son who will graduate college debt free and best of all freedom from worries. Need a new vehicle, dental work, a roof whatever bam the money is ready. How: limit the toys.

    1. That’s wonderful! What an awesome gift you’re giving your children by putting them through school–they’ll be starting their adult lives far ahead of their peers on that front. Thank you for sharing!

  31. Mrs. F,

    I wish someone offered me to give a lecture or host a discussion panel on personal finance and investing at university! Nothing like peeking the interest of the most bright minds in the country with an uncommon view on life.

    Glad to read you enjoyed your NY trip. And happy birthday!

    Best wishes,
    Keep it up over there you two,

    1. You’d be a great person to speak to the youths! You could show them all the wonderful ways that they can save and invest at a young, young age. Hopefully something will come your way!

  32. Congrats on the awesome speaking gig! I so wish that as a student I had the opportunity to learn more about personal finance and get to learn more about frugality and saving. I really could have benefited from it, and I think a lot of my peers could have as well!

    I’m so happy to hear you two are Boy Meets World fans…..it makes me like you both even more!

    1. Thank you! I would’ve benefited from financial ed as a student too–I certainly didn’t receive any in school. Gotta love Boy Meets World 🙂

  33. Thanks so much for speaking to us on Wednesday! I admit, I am not a student, but my sister helped to organize the event and she knows how much into finance I am, so it was an honor to hear you talk about your plans for the future and how being frugal does not mean you are socially left out of any circle since being older = becoming a homebody (I can personally attest to that). I, too, wish that more young people had personal finance courses for I feel that it is actually something that we need to learn and understand since we use it every single day and in almost every single aspect of our lives. Maybe this can be a push for millennials to make sure that this is included in the coursework for students the age of 2 – 92 (I wish I knew about the candy tax when I was 7). In the end, thanks again for coming down to the big apple to give a few of us a glimpse of life off of the consumer carousel.

    1. You are most welcome, Linda! I’m so glad to hear it was helpful–it was our pleasure to come speak. And, I agree with you, I think we’d all be much better off if personal finance was integrated into our educational system. Thanks so much for your comment :)!

  34. I love that you asked what OG meant… you’re showing your cool factor Mrs 😉 there a many times I feel totally out of touch when I talk to the undergrads at my university. I’m so not hip.

  35. FWs,

    Congrats on the speaking engagement. Sounds awesome!

    Was it weird being in NY all these years later? And especially now with your goals of homesteading and frugality (the complete opposite of NYC)?

    I hope you guys land some more opportunities like this in the future. Great way to spread the message. 🙂

    Best regards.

    1. Thank you! I really hope we have more speaking engagements in the future too 🙂

      It was sort of weird to be there in the sense that I enjoyed it so much, but was simultaneously so glad that I don’t live there now. It definitely reinforced for us that we’re destined for a homestead :)! But at the same time, we’re excited that our homestead will be just a train ride away from NYC… best of both worlds for us to be able to visit once a year or so.

  36. Ha–I’m literally a block away from your old apartment! (That is, if the building I’m thinking of is the same as the one in your photo.) I just moved into Crown Heights last month. Never knew what it was like pre-gentrification. Were you surprised that gentrification took hold of the neighborhood, or just shocked by how different it was?

    1. Oh wow, that’s awesome! It’s at Franklin and Bergen. I think I was just shocked at how incredibly different it is. I figured gentrification was in its future given the 2,3,4,5 and the proximity to Park Slope, etc. But, wow, is it different! Seems like a charming place to live now :).

  37. Cool gig! I did not get any PF lessons while I was studying and it may have caused me a few wasted financial years. I think you have saved a lot of students going into debt with your talks!

  38. Congratulations on the speaking gig!

    You never heard of OG before? I wrote a rap once where I claimed that “They call me the O.G., Original Gentry / So don’t f___ with me!” Ideally, I’d perform it dressed as a British aristocrat. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the rest of it.

  39. I attended NYU as an undergraduate and graduated last spring. I would’ve loved to attend your presentation. Unfortunately, I did not receive any financial education and living in NYC only made me want to spend more.

    1. Well, I think you’re headed in the right direction now though, if you’re reading about personal finance–that’s absolutely a step ahead :). I didn’t receive any financial education in school either, so don’t despair!

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