I SUPPOSE I could be described as financially literate. I have a doctorate in economics; my dissertation focused on financial decision-making. I write about economics and finance, and I’ve worked in the financial industry, designing investment strategies. But, when I look at the balance of my brokerage account (those low-fee global-equity index funds do not seem like such a good idea at the moment) or my credit card statement (peppered with frivolous impulse purchases), I question my financial savvy.
Nonetheless, I have volunteered to provide financial-literacy training to young mothers at a local homeless shelter. This is the first time I have volunteered since school, when my guidance counsellor forced me into it. She thought the experience would look good on my college applications.
I always justified not volunteering by figuring that my actual time was worth less to the charity than the monetary value of my time. But something about this project intrigued me. I thought I’d learn from the experience; it could make me a better economist. I even spent weeks fancying myself the next Suze Orman, empowering the financially downtrodden with my economic knowledge.