How Your High School Let You Down

As a high school teacher at a great school, I have to admit that I have one major beef with most high school curriculums: they teach plenty of complicated ideas, but many of them won’t be useful to you when you’re older.

They do a disservice to their students by avoiding some life enhancing concepts that are as easy to grasp as 4th grade math.

Those life-changing concepts relate to money and I’m about to reveal a giant conspiracy.  No, I’m not going to tell you that aliens serve coffee at Starbucks, or that Barack Obama has a genetic mutation allowing him to read minds and grow gills.

But I am going to tell you that when you start working, and investing money, a whole team of dedicated financial writers, financial advisors, CNN television personalities and suave investment salespeople (who may inebriate you with free dinners, birthday emails and Christmas cards) are going to try telling you that investing is complicated.

But it isn’t.

And I have evidence to prove it.

First, however, let’s get down to something inspirational.  Assume, on the day you were born, that your grandparents started to save $2 per day, planning to give you the proceeds on your 40th birthday.  Assume also, that they invested it in the U.S. stock market, earning 9.96 percent per year–the average return on the U.S. stock market over the past 100 years.  How much money do you think would be handed over to you, if they invested that $2 a day?

Think about this for a second.  They would have saved $2 per day, for 365 days a year, multiplied by 40 years.  That comes out to $29,200 saved.  Cool.  But that’s not including the miracle of compounding interest.

If that money was compounded at the stock market’s 100 year average return, your grandparents would be handing over $319,599.17 on your 40th birthday.

$2 per day for 40 years

=$730 per year for 40 years

Making 9.96% a year

= $319,599.17

If you didn’t learn about the miracles of compound interest in school, then you have every right to scream and holler.  Not learning this could cost you a wealthy future.  A middle class wage earner, for instance, could learn about this at an early age, and grow far wealthier than the average doctor.  And I should know.

As a school teacher who amassed more than a million dollars before my 40th birthday, I’m an example of someone who invested early (I started at 19) and let the miracle of compounding interest work its magic.

And the same thing could benefit you.

For this kind of historical investment return (9.96% per year) you would have needed to buy a product that owned virtually every stock on the U.S. stock market—just one product that holds thousands of stocks within it.  No trading.  No watching the economy.  No watching the silly folks on CNBC Squawk Box.

Sometimes, your money would have made more than 9.96%.  During some years, it would have lost money.  But on average, this would have been your return, if you earned the 100 year stock market average.

If you invested in a single product that owned all of the stocks on the Australian, Canadian, British or German stock markets, your results would have been similar, over a lengthy period of time, so these gains have little to do with picking one country to invest in over another.

But very few people earn the investment returns that the stock market offers because they get tricked into feeding a self-serving industry.  Most of the people you know (most of the adults in your life) get fleeced by financial professionals, without even knowing it.

Let me explain.

It’s easy to beat 90 percent of professional investors without doing any research; without following the stock market; without watching talking heads on financial TV; and without even caring.

Academic research suggests that the financial service industry is mostly a giant scam.

Most of the people trying to “help” you make money are putting their own interests ahead of yours.  And because we don’t learn about money in school, the majority of us get taken to the cleaners.  Sure, we can still make money by investing with the average investment professional, but at the end of the day, we’ll likely end up with half—or less than half—of what we truly deserve.  I caught on to this scam at an early age, which allowed me to grow wealthy.

And you should too.

But you didn’t learn this in school. And your parents didn’t learn this in school.

And that’s a major flaw of our school system.

Take it from William C. Symonds, the leader of Harvard University’s endowment fund when he says:

“The investment business is a giant scam.  It deletes billions of dollars every year in transaction costs and fees.”

Or you could listen to Yale University’s top finance guru, David Swensen, who indirectly suggests that most of people (who are investing with “professionals”) are getting ripped off as well, and will never earn the returns they deserve, until they realize that the investment products that most people buy (they’re called actively managed mutual funds or actively managed unit trusts) are fleecing them:

“The colossal failure of the mutual-fund industry carries serious implications for society….the mutual fund industry’s systemic exploitation of individual investors requires government action.”

Then there’s the great man himself: Warren Buffett.

“Full time professionals in other fields, let’s say dentists, bring a lot to the layman.  But in aggregate, people get nothing for their money from professional money managers…”

I’m passionate about teaching you how to beat the vast majority of professional investors at their own game—so you can eventually grow rich.  The strategy for doing so is well-known among Ivy League economists and Nobel Prize winners in economics.  In fact, it’s academically irrefutable as a way to give you the greatest statistical chance of success in the stock market.  But few financial advisors will want you knowing this!

In part, my frustration with this inherent lack of awareness led me to write Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. Follow the strategy in my book and you’ll beat the vast majority of investment professionals over your lifetime, allowing you to grow wealthy…even if you’re earning a middle class salary.

The book is receiving great reviews, and pre-order discounts are available through Amazon.com. and at a variety of other online booksellers on the John Wiley & Sons link.

You won’t need anything more advanced than 4th grade math skills.  And you won’t need to study the stock market or the economy.

Here’s what some of the biggest names in personal finance are saying about Millionaire Teacher:

 

“If you buy just one book this year, this is it.  Studies warn that too many investors are financially illiterate today.  Millionaire Teacher will educate and inspire a whole new generation of savvy investors”

Paul B. Farrell, JD, PhD; Author of The Millionaire Code; The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing

 

“Every once in a great while I read a financial book that I think should be shared with everyone I know.  Millionaire Teacher is that book!”

Charles E. Kirk, The Kirk Report

 

“Millionaire Teacher is an enormously thoughtful gem of an investment book that every serious investor should read, study and learn from.  This wise and witty book gives the reader a fresh perspective on the simple concepts needed to sustain financial freedom.  Most of all, it is delivered with a genuine simplicity that will capture the reader’s attention from the first page and hold it to the end”

Bill Schultheis, Author of The New CoffeeHouse Investor

 

“Andrew Hallam is proof that you don’t need a high salary, complex trading system or even a financial adviser to achieve financial independence.  You can get rich by living within your means and using simple wealth building tools.  Millionaire Teacher is a sensible and highly readable guide to investing that packs a lot of wisdom into its nine simple rules”

John Heinzl, Finance/Business columnist, The Globe and Mail

 

“Andrew’s book is my “go to” book from here on out when asked for a recommendation for that graduating high school or college student.  It is a joy to read and will undoubtedly raise the financial literacy of young people as well as adults”

Robert Wasewski, President of RW Investment Strategies

 

“The newbie investor will not find a better guide than Millionaire Teacher”

Burton Malkiel, Author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street and professor at Princeton University

 

“This is a great book.  If there was a course called Life 101, this book would be its primary reading…It’s what you need to know, told with humor, in a way you can understand.”

Scott Burns, Chief Investment Strategist, Assetbuilder. Inc; Personal Finance Columnist, Universal Press Syndicate

 

“Do you spend too much and save too little?  Do you wonder why your investments always seem to roll behind the eight ball?  In clear, compelling and highly entertaining prose, Andrew Hallam will explain to you exactly why and what to do about it.”

William Bernstein
Author, The Investors Manifesto and The Four Pillars of Investing

 

“Unlike most investment book authors, Andrew Hallam has become a millionaire by living frugally and investing HIS OWN MONEY successfully.  His book is a great guide…”

Michael B. O’Higgins; O’Higgins Asset Management
O’Higgins Asset Management Inc., Author, Beating the Dow and Beating the Dow with Bonds

 

“Andrew Hallam’s book is just the right one for novice investors.  He not only provides the winning strategy in terms of your personal financial life, but in investing as well.  The book contains Hallam’s Nine Rules to become a millionaire, and he has them all right.”

Larry Swedroe
Author, The Quest for Alpha; Principal and Director of Research for the Buckingham Family of Financial Services

 

“Put away your check-book.  Instead give this book to every young person and you will be gifting them a lifetime of financial independence and success”

Robert P. Miles, Author of Warren Buffett Wealth

 

You won’t need any kind of financial background to understand my book.  I designed it that way.  I want to teach you the nine rules of wealth that you should have learned in school.  And I know that you’ll enjoy reading about them.

 

 





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 (Wiley 2011) 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.

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4 Responses

  1. This reminded me of my favourite teacher from high school (an English teacher, of course) who left me with these wise words:

    "Life is simple… if you allow it to be."

    You are right that investing is often similar. People who believe that it is difficult, create a self-fulfilling prophesy where they are spun round and round.

    My father, for example, is excellent in mathematics. He grew up as a farmer and always had to calculate amounts of seed or fertilizer needed for the acreage, and had to tally weights of trucks and loads etc. He studied physics at university. Now he works for a drug manufacturer and is always dealing with chemical recipes.

    Put a dollar sign in front any of those numbers, and he fidgets.

    Thanks for writing the book, Andrew. I know what my father is getting for Christmas 😉

  2. Many things about the way the money industry and its communications are structured keep investors from being empowered to make the best decisions for themselves. But speaking of school — what about parents? To date, my biggest financial regret is that NOBODY — neither school nor my parents — ever taught me basics such as, "as soon as you can, buy a home, don't rent." Or even –try to put away a little money every month. I don't really know why my parents never talked about this stuff. At some level, I think money issues were actually considered in poor taste and to personal to talk about, even among family members. And there was a big misconception that in terms of one's financial future, education mattered above all.

    As a result, I didn't buy into the real estate market until my mid thirties, when the bubble was at its height. I didn't start saving until then either. I still suffer the consequences every single day.

  3. I think you're right Sharon. Money matters have often been considered culturally poor taste, conversationally. But then too many people remain in the dark.

    My mother-in-law suggests that three things should never be discussed:

    1. Money

    2. Religion

    3. Politics

    But I want to talk about all three, and doing so is healthy, I think.

    Your parents might also have been reluctant to talk about money because they were unsure about it. They might have done what they did, simply because everyone else was doing it too.

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