WealthQuest for Teens reveals

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

By Marty Loew

What does it take to become wealthy? Malden High School English teacher, Jill Suskind, looks to provide teenagers with the answers to this question through a specialized seminar, WealthQuest for Teens.
In her series of three hour seminars in Andover and Newton, Suskind highlights four areas that she believes hold the key to wealth: income, knowledge, money management skills, and a good reason for becoming wealth.
“If you want to become wealthy, it’s just a habit and attitude issue,” Suskind said during her November 18 seminar at the Newton Sheraton Hotel.
With an air of 1920s-style optimism on her voice, Suskind believes that becoming rich is a choice that students can make starting in their teenage years.
Despite an audience consisting of only a few students at the November 18 seminar, Suskind easily kept the countenance of a classy business environment throughout the duration of the seminar. The room was set up professionally with seating available for 20 students, creating a true business environment.
Through this setup, Suskind hopes that teenagers will “see themselves going into a hotel, just like top-level business executives.”
At the start of the seminar, Suskind presented her students with a workbook filled with the materials for the seminar, as well as resources for the students to continue to use after the conclusion of the program.
She began by exploring teenagers’ feelings, attitudes, and beliefs about money.
She then introduced several basic concepts about money, including its relationship to other areas of life and its relationship to effort and human energy. “Money is a symbol of what’s there,” Suskind said.
When introducing her four keys to becoming rich, Suskind asked students to think of what they can get paid for in the present. At this point, she also introduced the “miracle” of compound interest; the principle of earning interest on previously earned interest from an investment.
By presenting a table of compound interest scenarios, Suskind hoped that her students would be awestruck when seeing that an investment of $500 a month for 50 years would accumulate $2,179,922.98.
She, however, glazed over the fact that this requires a continuous 13 percent interest rate, and never mentioned a single investment that could achieve such an annual percentage yield.
Her “resources” section at the back of the booklet likewise made no mention of such an investment.
After the limited discussion of financial tools, Suskind introduced a strategy aimed at helping students control their financial habits. With this strategy as a backdrop, Suskind launched a “money management game” intended to simulate a year in the life of a typical teenager.
She attempted to show that by using her strategy, it is possible to save money while always managing to have enough money on hand for spending.
Suskind concluded that becoming wealthy can improve the lives of the individuals and those about whom they care.
In doing so, she comes full circle in dispelling any negative preconceived notions that teenagers may have previously had about the power of money.
The uplifting tone of the seminar was tailored toward upper-middle class students. “People love to break the rules. That makes people poor,” Suskind said.
Overall, the seminar was a motivational conference aimed at shaping the attitudes of teenagers towards money.
Although lacking much hard financial advice, she presented an uplifting lecture with a warm, inviting personality.
Suskind has not yet announced plans for another Newton seminar. In addition to launching this new program, Suskind has also mentioned her plan to write a book on teenagers and money in the near future.

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