The Book Missing from High School Curriculums

Unshakeable, by Tony Robbins. High school curriculums don’t make a lot of sense. They pack in plenty of classes that feel laughably useless, they assign any number of uninteresting books that torture even the most avid readers, and teach you very few things about how to survive in the world once you’re out. The most criminal omission in high school curriculums is the lack of education about personal finance. The simplest lessons about what compound interest can do for you, and about what the accumulation of debt can do to ruin you, are unknown to the vast majority of teenagers leaving high schools and entering the world of adults. I had a credit card when I was 18, but I didn’t know how it worked!

We live in a world where capital, or money, is an integral part of our lives. In the past, everyone needed to know how to acquire food. Hunters spent years learning to hunt, gatherers learned to gather, and farmers to farm. Today, we don’t spend any time at all learning how to manage money, but it is the modern means to survival. Money allows us to outsource everything we don’t know how to do, and it has allowed us to learn collectively to do a great many things as a species. But money is at the center of it all. And before you tell me that parents can teach their children about money, I tell you now that leaving this most essential education to children’s parents is a surefire way to perpetuated inequality. Naturally, wealthy parents will be able to impart better lessons about wealth acquisition and retention to their kids than could poor parents. This results with an unequal playing field for the next generations, and reinforces the cycles that keeps the wealthy rich and the poor poorer. Anyone who wants to be proud of their nation should want to encourage equality of opportunity, and I think it requires a financially literate citizen.

In my own learning about money, I haven’t been able to find a better book than Tony Robbins’. Surprisingly, the famous motivational speaker/life coach/philanthropist has now produced two books about personal finance. The first, called Money: Masters the Game, is a brick. For that book, Robbins interviewed the best hedge fund managers and money experts in the world, and made a compendium of their knowledge for the average North American individual. This second book, Unshakeable, is to me a short, pocket sized version that is far more accessible than the first. This week I read Unshakeable for the second time, and I felt the need to recommend it to others.

One final thought: when it comes to money, I have trouble trusting someone who makes a living off giving advice. Even more-so, I have trouble taking money advice from someone who only makes their money by giving advice. On both these counts, Robbins’ is exonerated, and you can feel good about this book. While the information in the books is assembled and written by Robbins, it comes from the greatest money masters in our modern world. And secondly, Robbins donates all the book royalties to one of his charities, Feeding America, which currently feeds over 4 million people per year in 56 countries around the world, which somehow goes a long way to ensuring the sanctity of a book like this, who’s purpose is to equip the average individual with the financial literacy needed to thrive.

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