Finance and investing should be taught in grade school, according to a bestselling investment author.
"Proper training in financial matters from a young age could reduce the debt burden that destroys so many families," says Sydney Tremayne. "It could help to increase the quality of life, and it could, in time, ease the burden on government of increasing numbers of retirees without adequate finances."
Tremayne says there are simple finance books for young children but, unless their parents or teachers are interested in financial matters, their children are unlikely to be introduced to them.
And, he adds, for the average adult, economics, finance and investing rank high among the dullest of topics. Books are filled with jargon, making them even more difficult to understand unless you know the language. "Too few people read as it is. Offer books that smack of the classroom, and the majority will opt for Trailer Park Boys."
Tremayne, a former investment adviser, wondered if there was a way to make the subject of investing less dry and more palatable to a greater number of people. And, if so, would it be possible to provide a set of principles that, if followed, would virtually guarantee success over time and thus remove the fear that many have about the stock market and risk?
Lunch with Gaffer: How to Make Money Safety and Certainly with Stocks and Bonds is his attempt to popularize the subject. Available as a download from the Internet, his latest book blends fact and fiction so that the instruction is in small, easy-to-understand doses with a liberal sprinkling of humor and glimpses of life in a rural U.S. village.
Three couples of different ages and backgrounds are entertained to lunch each week by Gaffer, millionaire investor and lumber mill owner in Cripple Hole Creek, population 209. The purpose of these gatherings: to teach Gaffer's guests how to start successful investment programs.
The teaching portion of each of the 24 chapters is entirely dialogue. During each discussion, the different characters and concerns of the participants influence the conversation, as they would in real life. And, because the format allows it more readily than with standard texts, the questions many novice investors assume are too dumb and embarrassing to ask are asked – and answered – in this book.
The investment philosophy is conservative. No day trading or wild gambles for Gaffer. The information he provides is tried and true, answering such questions as how to find money to invest when you have none, what types of investments should be made by different types of people, and what should be avoided. The book even shows a guaranteed method for buying low and selling high. Along the way, most typical jargon is explained.
Woven throughout the book are the stories and challenges of the various characters and their lives in Cripple Hole Creek.
Why an e-book rather than a hard copy? Tremayne's answer: "In part, instant gratification for readers around the world. They can download it from their computers, print it and read it, all without leaving their homes. But there's another reason. Although one of my books was a bestseller, distribution was so badly managed by the publisher that I want more control this time."
Lunch with Gaffer was written to be a fun read. To the extent that it is, it should be helpful to a large number of people who may previously have been intimidated by the very idea of investments, and to those who have had to rely entirely on the advice and management of others.
"It's easier to learn something if you are entertained," Tremayne says. "I did not write the book for any particular age group, and nor does it have a political agenda. But schools, generally, turn out good little imprisoned robot employees.
"The education system was designed to produce fodder for the Industrial Revolution, not people who could think and be self-sufficient. We teach people how to earn money as employees. Isn't it about time we started to teach them what to do with money once they earn it?
"Under the present system, the order of business seems to be: buy a car, get married, buy a house, raise a family, and then, under a debt burden, struggle to save far too small an amount for retirement. Times have changed, and our education system needs to change with them."
A sample chapter of Tremayne's entertaining and unusual investment book is available from the Lunch with Gaffer website.