October 8, 2013

KC dad helps daughter and her friends get financially F.I.T.

Chad Lundquist created Financial Intelligence for Teens four years ago. He and his young students, all graduates of Academie Lafayette, meet on the first Friday of the month during the school year. There’s homework, too.

It’s probably the last place you would expect to find a bunch of giggly 14-year-old girls on a Friday night.

But 41-year-old Chad Lundquist is on hour two of instructing a captive audience of six teens, including his daughter Lydia, on the finer points of increasing passive income to be greater than total expenses.

Poring over income statements versus watching a movie or hanging out with classmates?

You bet.

The group, gathered around the dining room table in Lundquist’s southwest Kansas City home, is engrossed in an interactive investing game called “Cashflow 101.”

The board game — designed by investor, businessman and self-help author Robert Kiyosaki — is a tool that Lundquist incorporates in his monthly F.I.T. club to help members understand basic financial strategies and accounting principles.

Lundquist designed F.I.T. — which stands for Financial Intelligence for Teens — four years ago to help his daughter and her friends develop self-confidence and skills necessary to successfully manage money in the real world.

On the first Friday of each month during the school year, Lydia and her friends — all graduates of Academie Lafayette — convene from 6 to 9:30 p.m. for intense tutoring in financial literacy. Others in the group include Linden O’Brien-Williams, Elly Puckett, Sarah Cozad, Gloria Mun and Zoë Scofield.

“Each meeting’s agenda includes dinner, group business led by the club’s officers, a quiz on financial vocabulary definitions and discussion on our ongoing investing contest,” said Lundquist, project manager/steel detailer at Kansas City Structural Steel. “Sometimes we have a speaker and we always end by playing Cashflow 101.”

Lundquist expects a firm commitment from each F.I.T. club member to participate in the club, attend the 10 annual sessions, participate in fund-raising projects like holiday gift wrapping, and be accountable by completing homework and reading assignments.

Elected leaders include a chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. They help conduct meetings, keep minutes and maintain F.I.T.’s budget.

A newsletter is distributed to club members before each meeting and features motivational quotes on life, attitude, investment and finances and items on the club’s business.

“This year I’ve added another 30 vocabulary words that the girls will memorize,” said Lundquist, who owns rental properties and invests in the stock market. “The whole objective of F.I.T. is to empower these young women to take hold of their financial future.”

The F.I.T. club members rack up typical teen expenses: cellphones, social events, clothes, concerts and snacks at volleyball and football games. Starbucks, too.

Some earn money to defray personal expenses through lifeguarding, baby- and dog-sitting and lawn-mowing gigs. All understand the concept of budgets, income, expenses and cash flow.

“I don’t bring a lot of cash when I go out,” explains F.I.T. CEO and St. Teresa’s student O’Brien-Williams to her friends. “It definitely keeps me from spending money on things like candy at CVS or pretzels at the pool.”

Scofield, a ninth grader at Shawnee Mission East High School, likes her friend’s approach to fiscal responsibility.

“That makes a lot of sense, Linden,” she says.

This night’s guest speaker is Laura Boyer, a certified financial planner, wealth adviser and research analyst at Boyer and Corporon Wealth Management of Overland Park. She met Lundquist when the two played on an indoor soccer team several years ago.

“Chad called me last year and said he was looking for an expert to come in and talk to the girls,” said Boyer, who addressed F.I.T. in April. “Other than the fact that they all speak fluent French, they’re typical teens. Last spring at the meeting I attended, they were gushing about which member of the band One Direction is the cutest.”

Boyer’s initial presentation focused on the notion of diversification.

“I emphasized the importance of not putting all your investing eggs in one basket,” Boyer said

When Boyer learned about Lundquist’s in-depth foray into financial education for teens, she was impressed with his passion and dedication.

“Ever since it was revealed just how over-leveraged our society has become, as individuals and as a nation, I have been of the opinion that financial education must become a requirement in our school system,” she said.

“The average household in America had a negative net worth at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Had I not majored in finance, I’m not sure I could explain what an IRA is or tell you about the importance of saving early, which is absurd.”

Although Boyer admits financial education is a problem being addressed in some school districts, she feels it needs to be accessible to every kid.

“Chad has taken it upon himself to educate his daughter and her friends,” Boyer said. “He spends his own time and money helping these girls build a foundation of knowledge that will be an asset to them in their future.”

As Boyer takes the club members through an exercise of examining the income statement of footwear, apparel and equipment giant Nike, the girls turn to an animated discussion of popular Seattle rapper Macklemore’s hit song, “Wings,” which delivers a message about consumerism and the pursuit of identity through logos and brands.

“It’s about his first pair of Nikes,” offers Cozad, as the other girls nod.

“My Dollar General socks are just as good as a more expensive pair,” offers O’Brien-Williams.

A burst of laughter fills the room as the F.I.T. club members digress for a moment to check texts, post pictures on Instagram, and admire Boyer’s engagement ring.

Lundquist enjoys watching the financial knowledge of F.I.T. club members grow with each meeting through real-life scenarios, pop culture and speakers like Boyer.

“I think this whole F.I.T. concept is a very workable model that can be duplicated in homes across the metro,” he said.

Lundquist leans back in his chair, smiling as Lydia and the other members resume F.I.T. talk about spending habits, their grandparents’ retirement, the cost of college and other financial topics.

“I love it when they get it,” he said.

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