"Pirates of Financial Freedom" is something of a first: A rollicking pirate adventure that combines such classic genre elements as blazing cannon-fire, pirate patois (“Argh”), and long-lost treasure with more than 70 basic concepts of personal finance and money management.
Joey Fehrman, a CFA, had a novel approach to teaching young adults financial literacy concepts; He wrote one.
Pirates of Financial Freedom is something of a first: A rollicking pirate adventure that combines such classic genre elements as blazing cannon-fire, pirate patois (“Argh”), and long-lost treasure with more than 70 basic concepts of personal finance and money management. That, to borrow a lyric from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” is for those of you who have absolutely no interest in pirates.
In the novel Captain Dailey be in need of pirates, but is at a loss in offering benefits that would compel landlubbers to leave their office jobs, cell phones and modern ways behind. He cannot even offer the prospect of treasure as his crew is flat broke. Enter Giuseppe, the captain’s son, who works on Wall Street (insert your own joke here). He agrees to teach the crew how to mend their financially irresponsible ways and achieve financial freedom.
Financial literacy is a treasure most prized by Affluent households. Four-in-ten Ultra High Net Worth investors with a net worth between $5 million and $24,9 million consider themselves very knowledgeable about financial products, compared with 22 percent of Millionaires, according to wealth level studies conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. As wealth level increases, so does the importance these investors place on their financial knowledge. In a separate Millionaire Corner survey conducted last year, 88 percent of those with at least $1 million net worth said that financial knowledge was “extremely important” or “important” to them, compared with 82 percent of those with a net worth between $500,000 and $1 million and 74 percent of those with a net worth of less than $100,000.
Fehrman, a seven-year veteran in the financial industry (most recently with Morgan Stanley), primarily in a portfolio management role, saw a need to teach Millennials about financial literacy. “Financial literacy is important (for all ages),” he told Millionaire Corner in a phone interview. “But I wanted to reach young adults who have money and can do something with it.
They don’t know what they don’t know. Young adults getting their first job may not know what a credit score is and why it’s important, for example. Then, they may know what they’re supposed to do, such as save for retirement, but don’t have a plan of action, or if they are saving, maybe they’re not saving enough. So there’s two main objectives for the book, to teach people what they should know and to motivate them to take action.”
Among the personal finance skills Fehrman dramatizes throughout the book include paying down debt quickly, saving for retirement, securing a higher credit score, investing in the stock market, budgeting effectively, responsible spending habits, and buying a first home.
Throughout the book are examples of people taking action and seeing positive results. The last chapter encourages readers to set SMART goals (an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound) that will help them reach “the next level.”
The book comes with a guarantee, he said. “If, after three months of applying the lessons in this book, your financial situation doesn’t improve, you get your money back.” (In another example of giving back, Fehrman has pledged 10 percent of all sales to charity).
Leaving his full-time job was a leap of faith, Fehrman acknowledges. “It was a steep learning curve,” he said of this past year in which he wrote the book, set up his website and started his publishing company. “But I’m still young enough (he’s 31) where if I fail, I can still get back on my feet.”
But he seems to have struck a nerve with the book. “I’ve always tried to educate people in an entertaining way,” he said. “A few years ago, I held a three-hour financial literacy seminar for young people, which is what inspired the idea for the book. “Whenever I mentioned my idea to people in their 20s, the majority said they could use the help. ‘I don’t know anything about money,’ was the most common response.”
Why pirates? Why not something trendier like vampires or zombies? (again, insert your own Wall Street joke here) Pirates, Fehrman said, are timeless. “And like pirates,” he added, “We’re all trying to build our treasure.”
Related story: Online financial literacy course, Futurebuck, created for Millennials
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.