This is the first of two blog posts I wrote about my experience at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park. To read Part 2, click 15 Financial Literacy Tips for Kids

Yesterday I spent four hours with a group of 7th graders from Takoma Park Middle School as part of Montgomery County’s Public School’s Financial Literacy program. I volunteered for the first time at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park (Montgomery County campus) and let me tell you, it was REALLY cool.

The kids watching the Finance Park intro video. Finance Park is literally right behind the curtains — they loved the big reveal after the video!

Some people might not get super pumped about spending 4 hours with a bunch of 7th graders, especially if you have some…


Yesterday I volunteered at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park (Montgomery County Campus). I wrote about my experience here and after some reflection, I decided it warranted an extra blog post. So if you’re a parent and looking to bring financial literacy and open conversations into your family, keep reading below to learn 15 Financial Literacy Tips for kids of all ages. And be sure to read all the way to the end for a bonus tip.

PRE-SCHOOL & EARLY ELEMENTARY

1) Get a Piggy Bank — call me old fashioned but kids love to see how much money they have and they will show anyone…


My wife and I play in a fantasy football league comprised of a handful of other couples in and around our neighborhood. This season something interesting happened. As the start of our season drew near, one of the couples in the league had to back out. With literally a couple of weeks left before the start of the season we were in a pinch as nine couples had to decide on one other couple to join the league. Dicey, at best.

As the commissioner, I came up with a plan. Our 10th team would be a computer team. It would…


Earlier this year we talked about investment options if you’re already making the maximum contribution(s) to your 401(k) and still want to save money elsewhere. We also covered the importance of contributing to your employer’s 401(k) plan in order to get the full matching contribution…aka compensation.

Today we’re talking 401(k) again and I want to show you why it’s important to understand how your employer matches your contributions.

I’m pretty confident saying most of us know if our employer makes matching contributions to the 401(k).

I’m not as confident in saying most of us know how the matching contributions work.


If you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ve probably figured out a few key themes I like to use when it comes to financial planning. Themes like: Focus on Financial Factors You Can Control, Life Is NOT A Straight Line, Rate of Savings > Rate of Return, Planning > The Plan, etc.

And also where your money goes, and why.

That’s what we’re talking about this week.

No, no, no. Not budg*ting. We’ve overhauled that one already via our 6-Step Simple Spending Plan. But I do believe it’s important for us to know where our money is going…and why…


Recently Jill & I took a quick trip to surprise her mom and this required us to fly down to Miami. As we boarded the plane, I peeked into the cockpit. The pilots were in there, doing their pre-flight checks. We moved on down the aisle, took our seats, and prepared for takeoff.

For us, getting to Miami was as simple as booking tickets, boarding the plane, and buckling up. The pilots had a little more on their plate. Before they even boarded the plane, they had a flight plan. I’m not a pilot so I don’t know what that…


Recently my wife, Jill, & I attended a friend’s birthday party. It was a Casino Night theme and of course fun was had by all. After all, we weren’t playing with real money!

They had two table games that evening: blackjack and roulette.

Seeing the roulette wheel reminded me of a visit I took to Atlantic City many years ago.

GAMBLER’S FALLACY

A friend and I were sitting in a lounge just off the casino floor. He was watching on of the roulette table’s “scoreboard” pretty intently. I asked him what he was looking at.

“I can’t believe Black has hit on…


I think we’re all prone to inertia in some shape or fashion, be it financially or otherwise. Guilty as charged.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but I’ve put on some weight this year. I don’t watch my weight. I’ve always been thin and eat fairly well most of the time. And I’ve always been pretty active. Like most people, I go through phases of working out. Generally it’s pretty regular and I’ll take some time off here and there. This year has been a challenge for me.

I started my own firm earlier this year and that’s…


Yesterday two very large financial institutions announced they would no longer charge “commissions” on any online exchange-listed stock, ETF (domestic and Canadian), and options trades for any investor on their platforms.

The cost associated with investing has been plummeting for years. First it was the robo-advisor firms pushing down costs for asset management. And lately, another financial startup became one of the first investment firms to charge $0 for trades. Now it appears everyone is getting in the game.

I’m a big fan of this trend. Investing costs is one of the core financial factors we can control. So seeing…


Two words. Taxes & Time.

Taxes: I’ve yet to meet a person who says, “Sure, I’d love to pay more in taxes! Where do I sign up?”

Time: Quite possibly the most precious resources available in our lives. Sadly, it’s not something any of us have any control over. When it’s our time to check out, we really don’t have any say in it.

We live in what feels like an ever-increasing busy life that demands of our time. Yet, when it comes to our time, it can be one of the highest taxes we pay.

One of my core…

Darren Straniero, CFP®

I like to write about what happens in our lives and how it can relate to our financial lives. Not always but most of the time. So keep checking in.

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