With the National Financial Literacy Month of April now being behind us, it only seems fitting that this newsletter also be my last and final Financial Literacy Update communication with you. Actively pursuing my nationwide Financial Literacy Project for the past 4 years has been a wonderful experience overall, but I recently returned to my roots in the telecom industry (following the expiration of my non-compete agreement), and I am now 110% focused on growing that exciting new venture. I am enjoying being back in a challenging, productive and fun environment working with many of the same people as I did previously. My, how time flies!
Final Updates on Important Financial Literacy Topics:
Secrets of Money Documentary Movie: The Financial Illiteracy Epidemic in America Exposed:
In mid-2009, we finished 5 months of documentary movie filming, which involved traveling nationwide to collect over 120 hours of raw and shocking footage on the state of financial illiteracy in America. We interviewed over 100 regular people, students, educators, government officials, celebrities, personal finance experts and others (click here for the detailed list) to get their perspective on the importance of Financial Literacy in schools and at home.
Unfortunately, some other pressing projects took precedence last year, and the completion of the documentary film was temporarily placed on hold. My partners and I are still committed to getting this important documentary movie finished and distributed , and are actively seeking a qualified joint venture partner to see this project through to completion. Click here for joint venture information and a copy of the summary letter with additional details, which is also being circulated to our interviewees and the documentary film community. Feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested in this opportunity or contact me for more information.
Financial Literacy Web Domains Available:
Over the past few years, I have accumulated several hundred web domains which relate to financial literacy. Now that I am moving on to other endeavors, I would welcome any affiliate, joint venture or opportunities to sell these domains. Please click here for the complete list or contact me to discuss opportunities.
The Secrets of Money Book: A Guide for Everyone on Practical Financial Literacy:
My 472-page information packed book continues to do well and teaches readers everything they need to know about personal finance from a practical perspective that they can quickly and easily relate to. Amazon continues to offer the best price and it's also the only book I know of with a money back offer! As always, your published Amazon reviews and testimonials for our website are greatly appreciated. Special quantity discounts are available for orders of 100+ books for your school, club, association or company (private branding programs have become very popular). Please contact us for details.
Over the past several years, tens of thousands of visitors have taken my free and thought-provoking quiz to test their knowledge of basic personal finance. While many of the respondents claim to be "well educated" academically, their paltry results certainly show what is lacking in many school curriculum. Sadly, the national average for FinancialLiteracyQuiz.com still hovers around a shocking 48%, yet 75% is barely considered passing. What's your score? Click here to take the quiz now.
Although my busy schedule and demanding responsibilities in my new telecom venture have greatly curtailed my availability for speaking engagements, I still very much enjoy the opportunity to interact with special select groups, like I did recently with over 200 energetic students at the University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business (UNC-MCB). If you are interested in having me speak to your school, group or company about entrepreneurship, business leadership, financial literacy or the secrets to success, please contact me with your event details, budget and date.
Frustrations from the Financial Literacy Front Lines:
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my work the past few years as a financial literacy advocate and trying to bring a new awareness to this sweeping epidemic, but the experience certainly did not come without its share of frustrations. As a hard-driving and successful entrepreneur from the private business sector, I am used to like-minded smart people working together as a team, and making swift decisions to achieve a common goal. Let's just say that the educational, non-profit and government sectors do not exactly work in the same manner - once you remove profit as a motive, all that seems to be left is turf (to fight over).
I decided to pursue the role of being a financial literacy advocate because it was, and still is, something that I am truly passionate about, and I felt that I could use my business experience and platform to truly make a difference and inspire the next generation - and I had the time and financial resources to do so following the sale of my last telecom business in 2004. I never had a profit or business model in mind with my financial literacy endeavor - I just wanted it to be sustainable and I did it solely because I felt it was the right thing to do. Yet, I was frequently characterized by many as a "carpetbagger," who was only out to promote their own self interest. This incorrect judgment and labeling by literally hundreds of groups that supposedly represented the interests of people who desperately need financial literacy education, only proved to deprive people from getting the help they needed.
It seemed as though every time I turned a corner, I ran into challenge and conflict in my attempt to promote the importance of financial literacy, both nationally and on a local level. Multiple well-known national groups and individuals, who are supposedly concerned about educating the next generation, either completely refused my offer of assistance (unless I simply wanted to write them a check and keep my mouth shut), or were wholly unresponsive to my multiple contact attempts. Even in my own community, the local university, school district and several non-profits aggressively attempted to ban my attendance at their taxpayer funded "Financial Literacy Summit" in 2008, and only after involving an attorney, was I begrudgingly granted limited access (and not a very warm welcome) under the "open meeting statute." I am still not sure if they were all afraid of the truth or just more concerned with protecting their own self interests, but this lack of cooperation is certainly not doing anything to benefit those who need better financial literacy. The cause needs more people working together towards a common goal, and I am generally a huge fan of effective public-private partnerships.
What I have unfortunately learned is that since there is no direct business model for financially literate consumers, there is very little incentive for anyone to actually promote it effectively. The mainstream media bombards us with sensational advertisements on how to spend money, and consumers are living in denial believing that they must keep up with the Joneses' to be accepted. The problem seems to be that there are so many groups (more than 100 at my last count) trying to do the same thing with financial literacy education, but they are all re-inventing the wheel on their own and have no interest in working together. This is only causing to dilute the message and the available resources. Personally, I feel there needs to me more collaboration, consistent communication, curriculum consolidation and general cooperation within the financial literacy community, in order to ultimately achieve success. The doctors have the AMA, the retirees have the AARP, the gun owners have the NRA - there needs to be a single voice like this for financial literacy instead of everyone trying to do their own thing.
While my attempts to bring "financial literacy awareness and education" to the masses was significantly less successful than I had hoped, the good news is that I was able to make a difference when working with smaller groups or individuals one-on-one. While certainly not as efficient, I will take what I can get. Consumers have become conditioned by the marketing sizzle of "get rich quick schemes" who have large advertising budgets and have the incorrect lure of a "simple system that shows you how to make lots of money quickly and without working" - nothing could be farther from the truth, but this is the message you need to use if you want to effectively reach the masses. Smaller groups are more interactive and allow for more realistic discussions.
I am still clueless as to why not every school in this country starts requiring and teaching financial literacy post-haste considering the lessons we have all learned from the current economic meltdown. For a variety of reasons, parents are not teaching financial literacy to their children. In America, schools are where we educate the next generation on subjects like math, English and science, but we do very little to prepare them for the real world (and it shows). Financial Literacy is a topic that will affect each and every one of us for the rest of our lives, regardless of age, income or occupation, so how can we NOT start teaching this NOW? Schools certainly have their own set of challenges, and everyone and their brother has their own pet project they think needs to get integrated into the curriculum, but I cannot think of anything that would be more beneficial at this point than financial literacy education, taught by qualified instructors.
Even with all of my frustration with pursuing financial literacy advocacy, I did meet a handful of other like minded individuals who are equally passionate about the cause and doing what they can to effect positive change. Here are just a few of my friends who I unconditionally support in their ongoing efforts to make America more financially literate in their own ways (it is interesting to note that all of these people are entrepreneurial and come from the private sector):
Vince Shorb - Founder of National Youth Financial Educators Council (NYFCE) and Creator of the Money X Live events, which effectively combines music and celebrities with teaching financial literacy.
John Hope Bryant - Chairman of OperationHOPE and member of the President's Financial Literacy Council.
Sharon Lechter - CPA, Co-Author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Entrepreneur and member of the President's Financial Literacy Council.
Larry Winget - The Pitbull of Personal Development, Engaging TV Personality and Author of 5 bestselling books. Larry tells it like it really is; no sugar coating.
Manisha Thakor - Harvard MBA and a fellow author who left a successful corporate career to be a personal finance expert on women and money.
Summary & Closing:
One thing is for sure: the need for financial literacy awareness and education still remains as great as ever. I only wish that I could have done more to make a difference, but hope that the efforts I put forth will make at least some small impact on the financial habits of those I was able to reach. It is with great appreciation that I take this opportunity to thank all of those who HAVE supported my efforts for the past several years. I also commend those who are truly committed to improving financial literacy for the next generation and you have my ongoing support, encouragement, gratitude and appreciation for all that you do.
If you want to still keep up with my activities, please visit BraunMincher.com or connect with me online on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Braun Mincher, Financial Literacy Advocate
Executive Producer ~ Secrets of Money Movie: The Financial Illiteracy Epidemic Exposed
Author/Publisher ~ The Secrets of Money: A Guide for Everyone on Practical Financial Literacy
Creator/Speaker ~ FinancialLiteracyQuiz.com (What's Your Score?)