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San Clemente Journal

Never Too Young to Learn About Money

Dec 20, 2022 08:59AM ● By Mary Colarik

J.J. took up skateboarding at age 37.

by Mary Colarik

At Sur Coffee recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with J.J Wenrich, Certified Financial Planner and author of the book, “Teaching Kids to Buy Stocks; Stories and Lessons for Grown Ups. As an avid reader of novels and non-fiction books, one about financial planning strategies is probably not the first one I would gravitate towards but it is one I definitely needed 20 years ago when I was raising my three children. Truthfully, it is one I need even more today as I am the trustee of a trust for my three grown children, and quite honestly, I came very late to the investment party. 

 


Reading Wenrich’s book has had a profound effect on me. It was a gift that landed in my hands six weeks ago and it is one that encourages families and individuals to take charge of their money in easy-to-read chapters about the most important “rules” in investing and the basics of stocks and stock picking, risks and compound interest. It also includes an extensive glossary with financial terms and stock market jargon, plus an appendix with a quick and simple financial planning checklist.

About the Author
Wenrich’s fascination with the stock market began when he was a youngster growing up in a tiny town (population 100) in Kansas not far from Wichita. The hot, humid summers, freezing cold winters and rainy spring weather was not exactly conducive to playing outside, so young Wenrich became an avid television news watcher - especially curious about the stock market and fascinated by the letter abbreviations for the different companies listed on the stock exchange. When he was in the seventh grade the University of Kansas designed a stock market game for junior and senior high school students and each class that participated in the game would invest $100,000 of make-believe money to purchase stocks. His seventh-grade teacher enrolled his class in the game. She invited a stockbroker from Wichita to speak to the class about stocks and investing. Young Wenrich was hooked! Fast forward to his senior year in college at the University of Kansas he became very intent on following the Asian and European markets, comparing stock charts, reviewing spreadsheets and watching CNBC. So, by the time he graduated he was ready to be a financial planner, building his Ameriprise business from the ground up. Working with a woman named Jodie, who was also a financial planner; they married, combined their practices and eventually opened their own business working with families to focus on long-term financial plans.

As that popular Nationwide commercial says, “life comes at you fast,” so it did for the Wenrichs. Soon there were three young children in 30 months, two boys and a girl, plus raising Jodie’s teenage son from a previous relationship. J.J. and Jodie sold their business as Jodie decided to be a fulltime, stay-at-home mom while J.J. took a position with a global investment firm based in Kansas City.

How did a young man from Kansas land in San Clemente? 
His territory was the western states; therefore, he was often in Southern California on business. One afternoon, local businessman, Burton Brown, suggested meeting for a beer at the San Clemente pier. The iconic pier, stretched out over the Pacific Ocean housing surfers in the sea, families in the sand and people walking along the beach trail enchants many to relocate to this special place, and the young family decided to move west. That was 10 years ago when their three youngest were five, six and seven.

Shortly before relocating to the west coast, Wenrich had made a bet with his youngest children, Max, Henry and Annabel telling them if they saved $500, he would match it. The matched money would be invested in Scottrade - $500 would stay in the bank, $500 would be invested. He turned the plan into a contest with each of the three young siblings choosing two stocks to hold for one year. They would track the market and the winner would receive a trophy for the best portfolio. Mostly he and Jodie wanted to teach their children healthy financial habits. They were learning one of their parents’ life hacks-have a cash nest egg before plunging into the world of stocks. The idea was to begin teaching them at a young age the value of saving and earning. Monetary gifts from birthdays and Christmas were put into a savings account while doing extra chores for cash would help add to the growing funds. Starting with their oldest son, Alexx they began teaching that schoolwork, activities and chores are their “business,” using the acronym, TCB - “Take Care of Business.” Also instilling the value of “I grind, you grind,” J.J. and Jodie also began talking about businesses, local and national entities; often observing … is there a line out the door for the product or service? Is it a private or a public company? Slowly integrating the young family into the world of how money is earned, the inherent value of saving and investing to buy the goods you need. 

As J.J. and Jodie were working with their children to understand the ebb and flow of money, Wenrich realized that throughout his career many financial professionals and individuals do not know much about the market. He told me he was inspired to write the book because people “don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t want to admit what they don’t know.”

Wenrich knew that a person does not need to be an exceptional numbers whiz to succeed in the stock market, especially since his young children were already learning not only about budgeting, saving and investing, but also about compound interest and the jargon of the financial world. 

Basically, Wenrich’s book is full of great nuggets and personal stories of learning how to understand the stock market and stock picking. His number one life hack is to pay yourself first, be intentional and have self-discipline. The family follows a share, save, spend philosophy - the ability to share is truly a gift that often comes back to you. Wenrich believes in a 10-year plan, be willing to sacrifice, yet take some risks. 

Writing the book pushed him out the door of the company where he was working due to corporate not wanting the book published. He reread, edited, and shelved it. Finally deciding, “I want this book published,” he left his position - a risk and a sacrifice - published the book and is currently combining his skills and 20+ years of experience as the President and Investment Executive at Tax Pros +Investing, centrally located in San Clemente. Additionally, he teaches free classes to teenagers on ZOOM and through San Clemente Parks and Recreation. His ZOOM classes are two 90-minute sessions one week apart. The first session focuses on budget, psychology of managing cash flow, debt and compound interest. The second class is all about investing. He tells the teens if they do nothing else make sure they take the option at their first job for a 401K plan. He thinks it is extremely important for teen girls to understand to never, ever let go of controlling their own money and finances.

Henry, Max and Annabel now 17, 16 and 15 currently attend San Clemente High School. The boys enjoy video games as a leisure activity while Annabel is involved with music and vocal arts. Jodie dabbles in various projects, keeping the home front buzzing along. J.J. likes to hike and backpack and spends some of his free time at the San Clemente Skate Park - he took up skateboarding at age 37 - never too old to take risks and learn new tricks. 


For information about purchasing the book and community class offerings go to www.teachingkidstobuystocks.com/personal-finance-class-for-teens.

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