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Teaching Teenagers About the Time-Money Trade-Off

Written by Gary North on October 31, 2015

In the Ron Paul Curriculum, there is a course on personal finance. It is taught by Dr. Timothy Terrell, who teaches economics at Wofford College.

In a course that I teach on studying, which I call the Academic Bootcamp Course (ABC), I teach techniques that speed up the students’ ability to master material.

I constantly recommend that they work on their speed reading. I recommend that they use a free online program called Spreeder. If they can learn how to double their reading speed on a day-to-day basis, and also increase their retention, they will become vastly more efficient over a lifetime. But it takes effort to do this. It takes daily practice. Most people will not do this. He who does gains the advantage.

Students go out for sports, and they learn self-discipline. They also learn teamwork. But in terms of the time expended, the payback never takes place. Unless they make it into the NFL or the NBA, they are never going to get this time investment back. They could have used this time to become better students. They could have used this time to study courses that had relevance in their lives. They could have gotten part-time jobs after school. They could’ve been apprentices in small businesses. They could have taken CLEP exams and entered college as juniors, thereby saving their parents tens of thousands of dollars. But their parents do not intervene, and sometimes they even encourage the students to go out for the team.

My friend Gary DeMar is a theologian. He also was a championship shot putter in high school. He was fourth in the nation. He is now 65 years old, and he was fourth in the nation this year in national competition for his age group. He does it because he likes to do it. He is in tremendous shape. He can bench press over 250 pounds. But he doesn’t do it for money. He does it for amusement. Not many people ever stay in this kind of shape this long.

His father wanted him to play football. He didn’t want to play football. So, he became the best shot putter in the state of Pennsylvania when he was a senior. I don’t know if his father thought this was a good trade-off, but in terms of lifetime performance, he was a lot better off to be a shot putter than a football player.

My point is simple: there’s a trade-off between time and money. If you specialize in one thing, you cannot specialize in something else. If you specialize in something that does not make you money, and which also cannot be regarded as your calling, then you are just amusing yourself. It may be better than watching television, but it should not be compared favorably with mastering a marketable skill at age 17.

(For the rest of my article, click the link)

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