The Millionaire Teacher — The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School…But Didn’t

Many schools do a great job teaching their students.

Where I teach high school English, at Singapore American School,  we have a superb program that encourages core values of honesty, respect, tolerance, responsibility and kindness. Our arts programs are fabulous, our sports programs are numerous, and our academic programs and facilities are second to none. It’s my opinion (I’m bias, of course) that it’s the best school in the world.

But we might be falling short in an area that so many other schools have fallen behind in: financial education.

In a world where we work to get degrees, so we can make money, so we can provide for ourselves and the next generation, perhaps financial education should take its rightful seat among the other core subject areas, like Science, Math, English and Social Studies. But obviously, it doesn’t.

This is where I’m trying to help. I’ve just completed the manuscript of my book, with the working title, The Millionaire Teacher, to be published by John Wiley & Sons.

Considering that there are numerous personal finance books on the market, why did I bother writing this one?

My interest began when I moved to Singapore, when I saw the high investment costs (and generally small-sized investment accounts) that my colleagues began showing me. As private school teachers, we don’t have pensions. So for most of these people, their investments are their old age lifelines. As a freelance finance writer, colleagues seemed compelled to reveal their inner financial secrets to me from the very first week I arrived at this school, back in 2003.

And I was shocked by what I saw.

So I held frequent “teach-in” sessions, and I gave out free investment books because far too many of my colleagues were paying exorbitant, hidden investment fees that were anchoring their accounts. They needed to learn some of the basics so they wouldn’t be taken advantage of.

But despite the greatness of those books, my colleagues found them boring and confusing because the authors took certain terms for granted. After giving away thousands of dollars worth of investment books, I gave up. The books, it appeared, were tough to understand for college educated professionals who didn’t already have an interest in money.

The reason these books were so tough to understand?

In many ways, my colleagues’ own schools (when they were kids) let them down. And whether you live in Singapore, The U.S., Canada, Australia or the UK, I believe that your basic schooling fell short in an area that could leave you victimized by salespeople, selling financial products that benefit them—not you.

So I decided to write my own book—to teach nine rules of wealth people should have learned in school.

With the help of colleagues, whom I was able to use as readers and critiques, I’ve written an easily understandable (and entertaining!) investment book describing how I became a debt-free millionaire on a teacher’s salary, while still in my 30s. Sure, everybody’s personal scenario is different, but there are certain rules of wealth that most of us weren’t taught in school. And the majority of people can benefit from those rules today, regardless of their age.

Periodically, I’ll keep you updated on the publication process and timeline. And like any decent “educator”, this book will ensure that you’re learning, and laughing at the same time.

Cheers,

Andrew





Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I’m happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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27 Responses

  1. Hey Andrew! Looking forward to your book. It's a very fitting title too. Which audience are you targetting? Parents or young adults or anyone?

  2. Hey Passive,

    That's a question the publisher asked, and there's a reason I have a tough time answering it. From seminars I've given (as odd as this sounds) I've noticed that the average college educated professional has a level of financial understanding that's not a lot higher than the average high school kid. So I wanted to write something that kids could understand, young adults could be inspired by, and those in their 30s, 40s and 50s could still get a lot out of. I've done my best to craft things really carefully so that nothing is taken for granted, and people are entertained along the way. Thanks for the interest!

  3. I remember reading the Wealthy Barber when I was 16, that's why I was asking as I was curious how old a young adult or a teenager could read it and I was also reading in between the lines about some adults not being interested or simply getting it with your post …

  4. @The Passive Income Earner

    Hey Passive,

    I was thinking of my grade 10 students. I figured that if they could understand it and enjoy it, then it would be "ready". They all know about my book, and they're very curious! It's going to serve as a "textbook" for the personal finance class at our school as well. Of all the "textbooks" they have to read, I'm hoping that this one will be the most enjoyable–and maybe the most relevant.

  5. Kevin@InvestItWisely says:

    I'm looking forward to the book! Entertaining as well as educational is important for today's people with short attention spans…

  6. That's perfect Andrew! I don't think we have enough books towards students and young adults.

  7. Mich @BTI says:

    With your wits I have no doubt your message will get across and your book will be a hit. Here's to success Andy!

  8. @Mich @BTI

    Thanks Mich,

    I'm not really into promoting, but because I'll be trying to educate about money (especially kids) I'm going to do the very best I can. The superintendent of my school district is giving me an unpaid year's leave of absence, so it will be a fun challenge to do what I can during that time. Thanks for the push and the kind words Mich! That kind of enouragement goes a long way. Thanks!

  9. @Mich @BTI

    Thanks so much Passive,

    I'll work hard to reach as many kids as I can. Thanks for the encouragement and support!

  10. @Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Thanks Kevin,

    You're right about people today having short attention spans. I realized that I couldn't write like Benjamin Graham if I wanted to get the message out there. I'd write something, and then look at it and ask, "OK, how can I inject a bit of fun into that?" I'm going to send the manuscript away on Monday. Until then, one of my students is creating a bit of a comic strip that I might use. Well, I wrote it out, and she's drawing the characters. I'm not sure how it will work out or what the editors will think, but I think the message could be a powerful one. You can probably guess that it shows the flow of money from an individual, to a financial planner, to a fund manager–ending in a Porsche being bought by somebody in the end. "Where are the customer's Yaghts?"

  11. Gareth Barlow says:

    Andrew,

    Good news on the book developments – I look forward to reading it when it's finally published.

    A couple of things that I think deserve comment:

    1. Surely someone with your financial acumen should've argued for a year's absence on full (or maybe even double) pay!

    2. If you're also thinking of your Grade 10 students, just ensure that you pepper your writing with the word 'like' in at least every other sentence. Otherwise, they just won't, like, understand what you're, like, trying to get across…

  12. DIY Investor says:

    I join with the other commentators in looking forward to your book. It is desperately needed. You have the right combination as a teacher and as a finance expert to pull it off.

  13. BadCaleb says:

    Good for you, Andrew. Hope you'll let your readers know when & where they can get a copy.

  14. Paula says:

    Hey Andrew! I'm so excited about your book! I will buy it for sure. Sounds like you're doing very well. Tell Pele hi for me and give her a big hug. I have started my art/scrapbook business, PSJ Designs, and will need the advice in your book when I make it big! 🙂

    Paula

  15. @DIY Investor

    Thanks Robert,

    I think you'll like the book's philosophy. I've used some fun analogies to get my points across. Also, I've been lucky enough to profile some real people. I have a chapter called "Indexing Around the World". I've profiled real people, using real names (that was generous of them to let me do that). There's an American, a Canadian, an Australian and a Singaporean. Each has their own story leading them to create accounts with indexes. And of course, I've tracked their performances compared to a slew of conventionally managed funds over the past few years. They all had the discipline to rebalance when things got crazy in 2007 and 2008/2009, so they've made actively managed balanced funds (which I compared to) look a bit silly. I could have used my friend "Harry" as an example, but I found a landscaper who follows the Canadian global couch potato portfolio to a "T". He just mechanically rebalanced every January. Anyway, thanks Robert. I, too, really look forward to seeing it in print.

  16. @BadCaleb

    Thanks Bad Caleb,

    I will!

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  17. @Paula

    Hi Paula!

    I'm glad to hear that your business is off the ground. I think you might have found a little goldmine there. You're very talented. Keep warm, dry and healthy.

    Andrew

  18. @Gareth Barlow

    Hey Gareth,

    You've got a great pulse on the lingo. I have a few similes using "like" so perhaps I can fool them into thinking that I have something worth reading.

    It's a shame about the non-paid leave. I agree. Perhaps I'm losing my touch.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  19. Sarah says:

    Hi Andy!

    I'm excited to check out your book!

  20. Lauren says:

    Love the title of the book and the idea! You have nailed it – my education (or lack thereof) has left me vulnerable to anyone looking to benefit themselves. Argh!! I teach 6th grade math in an international school in Korea and I've been looking for a way to teach financial literacy in my math class, so that my students aren't in the same predicament that I find myself in. Any ideas or suggestions for some resources to do this?

  21. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for the compliment on the book's title.

    I think it's great that you're trying to teach finance based lessons in your math class. To be honest, I don't know of any materials for young kids, but that's not to say they aren't out there somewhere.

    I'll be teaching Personal Finance at Singapore American School in January, 2012, using my book as one of the texts. During my hunt for additional material, I'll keep a look out for resources that might suite younger kids.

    I look forward to your comments on my book Lauren. I think you'll like it, but you'll let me know, right?

    Let's keep in touch Lauren. We're fighting on the same team.

    Andrew

  22. Lauren Teather says:

    I realize now that this thread was a year old – I don't know why it came up as new for me — but I'm so intrigued by the idea of teaching financial literacy. I have some resources to share in case others are interested – I know there is so much out there… I found this list of middle school resources – I can't vouch for all (or really any of them) but the first one (practical money skills for life) and another down at the bottom (biz kid$) looked promising.

    Also – hands on banking http://bit.ly/igG2zA has a great program for younger kids, and then here are some more ideas posted on edutopia: http://bit.ly/lDT7aX

    Excited to get a look at this book! :o)

    • Thanks so much for those resources Lauren!

      I've just started a new website called Millionaireteacherbook.com and I think I should link to some worthy educational sites, and make those prominent. Thanks for sharing those. I look forward to checking them out and sifting through them, so I can post them. Currently, the madness of my book's production is taking most of my time, but I have the next semester off to promote my book and make those sorts of resources widely accessible to people. Thank you so much for contributing! And please keep them coming…and share your success tips with me.

  23. Can in SIng says:

    Hi,

    I read your book and really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. I have opened an account with DBS Vickers since I live in Singapore but I am from Canada. My question has to do with what currency to invest in? When I read the book it gave a Canadian example and a mixed Sing/Can example. I was wondering when I purchase the funds from My Sing DBS account, do I buy them in Canadian funds, hence paying a currency conversion fee, or do I leave them in Sing dollars and basically act like I am Singaporean until I leave and go home? Also, if I convert to Can I will have to convert back when I leave right? Or will I be able to transfer them to the TD option you mention without switching currencies? Sorry I am a bit confused about the approach to use here. Thanks.

    • Hi Can,

      I'm not sure what you mean about changing currencies. If you buy a Canadian stock market ETF in Singapore, via DBS Vickers, your money will become denominated in Canadian dollars, based on the fact that the Canadian stock index is denominated in Canadian dollars. If you buy a world stock index, your denominated currency would be spread between world currencies. The world stock market ETF may be quoted in U.S. dollars when you buy or sell it (even on the statement) but it would really be denominated in a blend of currencies because that's what the world stock index is comprised of.

      Here's another way to look at it. If I bought the first world international ETF (VEA) it's price would be quoted in U.S. dollars, but it wouldn't have any U.S. dollar exposure, because it invests entirely in first world, international companies, with the exception of the U.S. An American, buying an international index via Vanguard would be in the same boat. If this is all the American bought, he or she would have zero exposure to the U.S. market or the U.S. dollar, despite the fact that their Vanguard statement is quoted in U.S. dollars. Make sense?

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  24. Adam says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I have moved my Saxo bank funds from the balanced portfolio USA stock market to avoid the USA tax (before I get 60k usd like you suggested) to the exact uk stock market balanced portfolio you suggested in your blog. Will I now be liable to pay cap gains tax? I am uk passport holder living in Dubai. If so isn’t that what I am trying to avoid so it does not eat into my savings..?
    In effect have I not gone ‘out of the frying pan into the fire?’ Please can you clarify.
    Adam

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