Harris Nydick wishes there had been a class in high school to teach financial literacy skills when he was a student. So he devoted his career to helping others learn about money, writing a book about retirement plan investing in the process.
Nydick is managing member of CFS Investment Advisory Services in Totowa, N.J.
He also is coauthor of Common Financial Sense, published in 2018. In Nydick’s book, he uses easy-to-understand language to walk people through the steps they need to take to invest successfully in their retirement plans. “We wanted to respect our audience and talk up to them instead of talking down to them,” he said.
The inspiration for the book came from his desire to make financial information “obtainable and attainable” for everyone.
People need an opportunity to learn about financial literacy
Nydick said his interest in promoting financial literacy sprouted out of his observation that “there are a number of people out there who are incredibly smart, but they never had the opportunity to get smart about money or investing.”
In the opening of his book, Nydick writes that he wishes every high school would offer a course in personal finance, where students would learn about banking, credit cards and how 401(k) plans work.
“I also wish students would learn about understanding what your liquidity looks like, making sure you have money not just for emergencies but for opportunities,” he said. “I understand YOLO [you only live once]. It’s expensive to say you’ll do something today instead of tomorrow. But there’s also FOMO [fear of missing out] and that’s even more expensive because you’re trying to keep up with what your friends are doing.”
Nydick said he wants to teach that creating good savings habits can help someone have money for today as well as tomorrow.
“I remember when my first child was born, I couldn't afford to put anything away but I still forced myself to put $5 a week into a savings account when I had no money. Because I said I have to be able to start with $5 a week. I did that until I could afford to put in $10 a week, and then until I could afford $15 a week. There’s no substitute for the work that you have to put in and the discipline that you need in order to be successful at saving.
“I wish people understood this earlier in life when they still have the gift of time, so you can have compounding be your friend and not your enemy.”
Nydick said one key to helping people improve their financial literacy skills is “to take something that is incredibly sophisticated and present it in an uncomplicated way without being condescending or insulting.”
“You must have them start with where they want to end up and work backward from there,” he said.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.