How Do TD’s Mutual Funds Stack Up Against Its Index Funds?


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Quirky imagery works well when explaining concepts to kids.

Based on my experience as a high school personal finance teacher, the more ridiculous the better.

So, what do index fund managers do all day?

They work from hammocks like chilled hippies – if you ask my students…

To read more, check out my latest article in Canada’s Globe and Mail.


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 and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. 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.

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4 Responses

  1. Colette says:

    Hi Andrew, could you please share which curriculum/textbook you are using to teach personal finance at SAS? I’m teaching high school Life Skills at a school in Africa, and the curriculum we’re using “What’s up in finance?” is suited to the average American teen and doesn’t fit well with our international students. Would love to find something better. Please let me know,


    • Hi Colette,

      I use my book, Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School.

      I also assign selected online reading. Much of the course is project based. Students write blogs, tracking their expenses at the end of each weekly entry, and they also comment on their learning for the week. They also have to “connect” with their parents, letting their parents know what they learned, and documenting the conversation with mom or dad at the end of each entry. If parents aren’t around, they need to find a similarly themed online article and comment on it.

      Most financial books are dull. I want to inspire the kids. I start the year by showing them how small decisions, when it comes to savings, can have huge long term impacts. Here’s an example of one such project, which I asked students to do after showing them how the stock market worked: Chapter 2, of my book, plus showing them how Morningstar’s stock market tracking works.

      They’re shocked and amazed to find that such decisions are worth tens of thousands or millions of dollars. You will hook them with that. And it’s universal, regardless of where your kids are from.

      We went on our interim semester break in February, so we’re only about 3 weeks into the semester. Here’s an example of a weekly student blog, showcasing learning from the first 3 weeks:

      Feel free to follow her as the course progresses so you can see what she’s learning.

      Here’s another:

      Lessons on credit cards are huge. Be mischievous when teaching about investment products and credit cards. Show them how to make a credit card company hate them…that is, encourage them to use a card, build a credit rating, but never pay interest on a card. Online videos such as this are awesome (my students found it!)

      Put the seed in their head that they can get somebody else to buy investment property for them. Teach them what a mortgage is, how they work, then see if they can figure out all costs associated with home ownership, and how to find an actual property they could buy for a real estate investment. This one is a bit “out there” in terms of what the girl thought she could get paid in salary (perhaps?) but the presentation itself is awesome.

      Kids will learn a gazillion more through such an approach than they would through standardised textbooks. And with a real estate project, they get to think of where they want to buy–geographically. What are mortgage rules in those countries? What can their parents teach them about that?

      Students can combine opportunity cost learning with responsible car purchases (most people’s biggest financial liability) This is also international. You can check it out here:

      You’ll inspire kids Colette, if you can keep things as real as possible. Forget boring textbooks. Make it real to the kids. Let them take charge of their own learning with regular presentations they do in front of the class. If they don’t do well, suggest the option of a screencast. Such was the case with the screencast samples I gave you.

      The last project is what I call the “Real Life Project” Kids do this one independently. They don’t present them via screencast or speech, but through a hard copy. And they love it because it’s so real, and so dependent and specific to a kid’s future geographic location.

      I strongly disagree with playing any kind of stock market game with kids. It’s irresponsible, as I wrote here:

      This is plenty to digest, but next year, I am going to teach this class to SAS kids online. If you can remind me, I will share all screencast “lectures” and the course itself as it progresses through the first semester, if you like.


    • Here’s the letter I write to the parents:

      Dear Parent:

      I’m thrilled that your son/daughter is in my Personal Finance class. To ensure that your child gets the most out of this course, perhaps you can help. All students will be documenting money they spend this semester, as well as money that’s spent on their behalf. These costs include the following:

      Air tickets; bus passes; taxis; restaurant costs (if the family dines out, students must document their portion of the bill); hotel costs (divided by the people in the room); monthly hand-phone costs; interim semester costs, sports equipment; grocery/household staples (divided by the number of people in the household); entertainment costs; clothing/footwear costs; non-insured medical costs; electricity bills (divided by household number); transportation costs etc.
      Two optional expenses to track include home rental costs (divided by household number) and SAS school fees.
      This is where I’m asking for help. Could you please ensure that your child sees the bill for all food, phone and utility/electricity costs? Based on past experience, students will “cost” $8,000 to $13,000 SGD per semester—not including SAS tuition costs or rent. I’ll be checking their ongoing, categorized expense tracking once a week. The expense recording will serve them well for the “Real Life Project” we’ll be doing in April.

      Thank you,
      Andrew Hallam
      Personal Finance Teacher

  2. Dxbexpat says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I have read a lot of the posts on your website and must say that I’m really glad I found your site. It has opened up my eyes in more then one regard.

    I was wondering if you could let me know your thoughts on DBS Vickers vs TD International. Other then being in different jurisdictions are their products different? Is there a benefit to one over the other?

    I’m a Swedish citizen who may (but probably won’t) retire in Sweden. Chances are it will be somewhere more exotic but who knows. I’m 39 years old and currently looking at options for my FP money (whatever I can get out) as well as any future investment.

    I’ve now bought your book on my kindle and I’ll be looking for the paper version the next time I’m in a good book shop. Sounds like a lot of people have enjoyed it.


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