Lessons Learned from Going Virtual at Wealthy Habits

Lessons Learned from Going Virtual at Wealthy Habits

Like so many other educational programs, Wealthy Habits had a choice to cancel programs or go virtual. Our mission is to educate students so it wasn’t a tough decision, but our staff was not under any illusion that it was going to be an easy feat.

From the very start, we’ve worked hard to ensure our programming makes teaching financial literacy as fun as possible through hands-on learning, relevant conversations, fun review games and eye-opening activities.

Until this summer, this has always been done in person. Translating what has worked in person, to remote, computer-based instruction seemed almost impossible.

Three of us spent two full weeks (including nights and weekends) focused on altering the current camp curriculum, deciding on and understanding the technology, and switching from local to nationwide marketing of our classes and camps.

We learned some good lessons while switching from in-person to online instruction that may be helpful to teachers, parents and students for the coming school year. Here are a few of them:

Simplify. Make technology and access to class materials easy. No matter how well everything is set up, there will be issues like bad internet connections, unresponsive websites, dead batteries and invalid passwords.

Tricks we learned:

  • Zoom has worked for us. We tried Zoom because of its reviews at the time. It hasn’t been without its issues but in all honesty some of those were likely due to user error.
  • Technology isn’t meant to last for many years. Our router was five years old and because it was furnished by our internet provider, it took some convincing to get it replaced. Once it was replaced, our slow and spotty connection was much less of an issue.
  • Make sure you have a good and preferably hardwired connection to the internet and other devices. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are great for some things but aren’t always reliable. We had wireless speakers that would work some of the time and not work others.
  • A few weeks in, we had five classes going simultaneously. It was extremely helpful to have “mobile workstations” that were all set up the same. Each station had its own computer and extra monitor, Zoom account, speakers, other computer peripherals and whiteboards.
  • We needed lots of screen space. The smaller the screen space the less you can see and the harder it is to manage your lessons and your class. We used two full-size screens. One was so we could see all the students and the other was for the lessons.
  • When the camera is on, show your face and smile. It really does make a difference


Make it fun. This sounds so much easier than it actually is, but it isn’t impossible.

  • Remember to be age appropriate. My college-age child was watching her professors do some really “not-so-funny” funny stuff.
  • If you want kids to stay engaged, add a little competition. Talking to a screen of blank faces isn’t fun for anyone. We have one prize at the end of each program that the kids compete for.
  • Teach the class as if students are in the room with you. Get them talking. They like sharing their opinions or showing what they know. Not all kids are comfortable sharing and we call on the shy kids periodically to make sure they are still paying attention.
  • Try to find a dedicated room to go to, set a schedule and stick to it just as you would with an in-person session.
  • Use breakout rooms for kids to work on projects together. The Zoom breakout rooms were a lifesaver. For example, we have a Warren Buffet play that we developed that requires us to divide students into two groups. We encourage each group to be creative – dress the part, set the stage, etc. The instructors can end the sessions when they want, which brings all students back to the main session. The kids then present to the other group and instructors. The best play wins extra points.We use breakout rooms because they allow the kids to talk among themselves without feeling as uncomfortable. The instructors can pop in and out of the breakout rooms to check on the kids’ status.
  • We encourage the use of chat function. Not all kids like to talk to a screen, so we mix up some activities with the chat box. It registers the first person to hit send so it can be a great way to integrate competitive learning.
  • Going virtual meant we had to find an alternative to the workbooks we give the kids to keep everything together. A lot of teachers use Google Slides but we settled on liveworksheets.com. We like liveworksheets.com because we could upload our existing PDFs and add interactive pieces to them, instead of remaking each page.
  • Review games are a fun way to make sure kids understand the information and to show them that learning can be fun. Kahoot!, Google jeopardy and many other tools are easy to set up. During in-person camps, we try to stay away from technology, so these online games have been easier for us to use for our virtual camps. We even have a public Wealthy Habits Kahoot! game. Feel free to check it out.
  • Embrace the pros of teaching virtually. We have fewer behavioral issues in our virtual classes than we do in person, we can teach students from all over the country and even from other countries, and students can take classes in their homes, which is more convenient for some families.

For many of us, virtual learning will be part of our immediate future. We were fortunate to have a few weeks to make the switch to online learning. Many teachers were forced into it overnight. I hope some of the lessons we learned can help teachers, parents and students make the best of the situation. If we can make financial literacy fun, even online, then there’s hope for everyone else.

To see for yourself, check out our online camps and programs at WealthyHabits.org.

What COVID-19 should have taught us about our finances

What COVID-19 should have taught us about our finances

Six financial lessons that we shouldn’t forget as stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Has COVID-19 upended your day-to-day life? It certainly upended mine, and caused us to shift the ways we do things at Wealthy Habits. Some of the changes we’ve made have turned out to be good changes, such as adding virtual financial literacy summer camps and programs online, in addition to our in-person camps in Atlanta, which will be limited this year.

It’s probably going way too far to suggest that we all turn these pandemic lemons into lemonade. But for many of us, this major life disruption has given us time and room to reassess some of our not-so-good habits and practices.

Financial habits are a good example.

Six Financial Lessons Learned from COVID-19

  1. Emergency funds are more important than the “things you think you need.” Most financial experts recommend that you have enough money in an emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses. For many individuals and families, that feels impossible. In fact, according to the Motley Fool, almost half of Americans don’t have enough money in their emergency savings to get through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.So  here’s a reminder we all need to hear again: Funding an emergency account will always be more important than almost every single thing you think you need. Now is the time to take a long, hard look at each purchase and be honest with yourself – Is it a need or a want? If you’re not sure, it’s probably a want.
  2. Not shopping at the mall for a long period of time is possible. It’s also possible to not shop at big box stores and specialty retailers for long periods of time. Granted, no one wants to see these places go out of business. But if we’re talking about building wealthy habits, spending less time visiting stores, in person or online, will help you avoid impulse purchases on “things you think you need.”
  3. Be thankful for your employment. Some people love their jobs; for others, their job is just a paycheck. But the widespread and painful job losses that have occurred in the hospitality, health care, travel, retail and restaurant industries during the COVID-19 outbreak should remind us all to be thankful for being employed and to step up and do the best job we can.
  4. Do whatever you can to make sure your job is more secure by learning and taking initiative, even if a request isn’t “your job.” Flexibility will serve you well at work and in life. If you seek out new challenges, take classes to expand your knowledge and skills, and be willing take on new assignments, your efforts will likely be noticed and rewarded.Flexibility has been essential during the pandemic, and has meant survival for some businesses and continued employment for their teams. I am proud of my team; their flexibility has allowed nine interns the opportunity to join us for the summer.
  5. Fast falling markets have always come back, so don’t panic. We touched on this one in a blog article a few weeks ago. The most successful investors are those who can withstand fear the longest and keep their focus on the future.I encourage you to go back and read the whole article. If not, here is an important snippet: If you are already invested, take a deep breath, or 10, and remind yourself that prices will rise again as the market returns to normal.
  6. Free family time is just as, if not more, important than pricey outings (dinners out, trips, etc.). If you have kids, following those stay-at-home orders meant a lot more together time as a family. Soccer games and post-game team dinners were out, as were weekends at the movies or out of town.This was a good thing for most of us as we were forced to figure out how to live together and make our own fun. Yes, we probably spent more on groceries but I promise it wasn’t equivalent to the money that might have been spent eating out. Maybe instead of an expensive night at the ball game we dusted off an old board game and had just as much fun reconnecting. And that kind of fun is much easier on the budget. Don’t let all those activities end as things open up.

It’s been said that it takes as little as 66 days for a new habit to take hold. Most of us have cleared that point in the pandemic, which means these COVID-19 financial lessons have started to be ingrained in our lives. Don’t let them slip away easily.

This summer, we’ll be teaching these financial literacy lessons in online camps and programs as well as in-person summer camps. To learn more, check out the programs listing at WealthyHabits.org.

Going to College Out of State

Going to College Out of State

By: Pooja Parmar

Going to school out of state can be extremely nerve-wracking, but being able to explore different parts of the country (or the world) can be one of the most exciting college experiences. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not going to college out of state is for you. 

An out of state college experience is a dream for many students, but typically the biggest concern is whether or not the cost of an out of state school is worth it. A way to keep student loans to a minimum is to start looking for scholarships and other opportunities early on. Many students make the mistake of looking at scholarships after they finish their college applications, but scholarship deadlines coincide with college applications or can even be before those deadlines. Scholarships can be found through your high school counselor, clubs you are involved in, and numerous online resources. Because I started searching for scholarships as soon as my senior year had started, I was able to pay off all of my college expenses, and going to college out of state became a reality. However, if the scholarship route does not work out for you, look into negotiating the financial aid offers from schools and consider whether or not taking out student loans is something that is appropriate for your situation. 

Applying to schools out of state can also work in your favor. Many universities have scholarships specifically for out of state students in order to make college more affordable. These universities also deem that geographic diversity is important for their student body and want students from all over the country. These scholarships tend to be merit scholarships and may not even require an extra application. Therefore, it is a good idea to think about what out-of-state schools you want to go to and see the minimum qualifications in order to receive these special scholarships. This can help you set goals for yourself for standardized tests and other metrics as you navigate your high school career. 

Once all the financials are figured out, and you have accepted the offer to go to a university out of state, there are only logistical details that need to be figured out. 

First off, decide whether you are driving or flying for move-in day. If you are flying, set aside a budget to ship some items over to the campus, but only ship over the stuff you already have. If you need to make any purchases, go to stores near your school on move-in day so you don’t have to have to spend excessively on shipping items. If you are driving, you have more leeway with how much you want to purchase from your hometown versus near your school campus. Make sure to pack some items in suitcases you can keep with you on campus in order to travel back home for the holidays or other travel purposes. 

Once you get on campus, walk around the town or drive around the city in order to get a feel of the place. Figure out emergency contact information, and where the closest resources such as hospitals and banks are. Connect with any friends or family that you may have in the area. 

Throughout the year, new logistical issues or situations may come up such as transferring prescription refills over to the university pharmacy or figuring out summer storage. However, the most important thing to remember is that you may not be prepared for everything. Going to school out of state is a wonderful and enriching experience where students get to truly feel independent in a different way. Many circumstances may arise that you may not have anticipated, and completely expected, but you will be able to figure it out. It is important to set reasonable expectations for yourself in a new environment and allow yourself to take time to get comfortable. Be open and ready for an incredible new experience. 

Sources: https://blog.getintocollege.com/getting-a-scholarship-as-an-out-of-state-student/

Importance of Getting a Job as a Teen

Importance of Getting a Job as a Teen

By: Charlie Benedict

Getting a first job can be a daunting task for teenagers. Having a resume, asking for an application, and even completing an interview can all present unique challenges. Many times, employers are sympathetic to the struggles of the teenage employee – so don’t let anxieties deter you! Studies have shown that teens who find part-time high school employment have more success in their careers and lives. In particular, one study found that young people who work part-time on average make 22% more in their future career than non-working peers! Additionally, they are more likely to graduate from college and work in higher-level jobs. Despite this, teen employment is down nearly 50% since 1990! Employers still want to higher teenage labor, so the downturn in employment is more due to social changes than any policy changes.

It may be worthwhile to encourage your child to get a job. I worked at Chick-fil-A for three years in high school, part-time on the weekends and school nights. I truly believe that this experience helped me become more comfortable with public speaking and navigating complex interpersonal decisions. I started making minimum wage while cleaning the bathrooms and dining rooms, but with hard work and commitment, I eventually worked my way up the totem pole to the front counter, drive-thru and even a leadership position. I learned the fundamentals of customer service, gained experience working in a business environment, and created opportunities for positive references moving forward. I even earned a scholarship for college! My favorite activity was counting down the registers to make sure they reconciled at the end of the night.

If your child has even the slightest interest in finding work, encourage and support them. Interviewing and receiving an offer for a job can definitely be a challenge – but most employers have realistic expectations for employment experience from high schoolers.

The following is an action plan to get your kid started on the road to employment:

  1. Have a resume – include academic accomplishments, community involvement, and other activities that demonstrate responsibility and maturity. If you are on honor roll or have perfect attendance, there’s a pretty good chance you will show up for a shift on time!


  1. Be proactive – no employer will be turned off by seeing your interest in a job. Reach out to them if to ask about job openings, thank them if they interview you, and follow-up with them if you feel it’s appropriate!


  1. Think before you act – I know when I interviewed at Chick-fil-A, the manager offered me a meal. They wanted to see how good my manners were, whether or not I would throw away my trash, and how maturely I would act. They paid attention to whether or not I pushed in my chair, brought a pen, and dressed professionally. The little things matter – especially in interviews – so make sure you think before you act.


Getting a job, like most things you try for the first time, can be scary. But if your child has any interest in making money or working at a store, encourage them. I can positively attest that my employment at Chick-fil-A greatly contributed to my maturation and growth.


How Plans – Personal and Financial – Can Change Your Mindset

How Plans – Personal and Financial – Can Change Your Mindset



Setting personal goals is very similar to writing a business plan – both can help ensure success in the future.

Setting goals is something that lots of people talk about but few really take the time to do, at least in a formal way.

Sure, you might jot down your goals for the year – lose 10 pounds, find a new job, save for a trip to Italy.

But just writing down a goal rarely helps you achieve it.

Building lists of tasks to reach those goals can help, and many people take that next step. But lists on their own won’t get you there, and for some people they have drawbacks. If you’re a person who gets so focused on tackling each item on your list, you may lose sight of the big picture – the goal itself. And you might miss opportunities that create a better path to your goal.

But when you write down your goals, make lists, compile them into a plan AND shift your mindset, the results can be life-changing.

Businesses take time annually to set goals and develop a plan to reach them. Without clear direction – and a formal plan – a business is unlikely to succeed, even if it is offering a great product or innovative service.

Need proof? Data shows that almost 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year?  It’s safe to say that many of those failures can be attributed to lack of direction.

By five years, about half have ceased operations.

For more insight on setting goals, I talked to Ginger Gallagher, who is the president of Vela Agency in Winston-Salem, NC. Ginger is also a very involved member of the Jonathan D. Rosen Family Foundation’s board of trustees.

Here’s what Ginger had to say about setting goals for herself and her business.

“The old saying that ‘What Gets Measured Gets Done’ really applies here. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and lose sight of the big picture,” Ginger says. “That’s why planning for business, or any goal really, improves the odds of achieving that goal.

“This applies to any type of goal, whether it’s to grow your business, get an education, save money or conquer a challenge. Don’t get myopic, though. Be stubborn about your goals but be flexible about your methods.”

Of course, if you’ve never been one to set goals, this is a good time to start. The pandemic has forced many of us to make decisions that will change the course of our lives.

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