Make Risk Work For You

By Jasper Smith, GTA Instructor



Many of the students who signed up to participate in the 10-week course wanted to learn more about the language of money. Of course, I was super excited about this because I’m a financial planner by trade. It’s amazing how our classroom resembles the real world, as it applies to people’s comfort level with investments. We have conducted a few investing activities and I’ve had one student who just gets it.

While explaining some investing basics, he blurted out “When it comes to investing, you should buy low and sell high, right?” RIGHT! But the sad reality is that people today still do the exact opposite, they buy high and sell low. I asked him to elaborate a bit more and since we’ve had discussions about risk in the past, he understood that emotions can sometime come into play. He said that if he wants to make a lot of money, then he has to be willing to risk it. And if he plays it too safe, then he won’t give himself the opportunity to make much. Plus, he’s well aware that playing it risky could result in big losses.

Others in the class stated that if they were investing, they wouldn’t feel comfortable losing any money. Some said, they would be okay risking a little bit. It’s amazing that these students understand these concepts now, because knowing their risk tolerance when it comes to investing is of the utmost importance. My only hope is that this conversation gets etched into their brains.

One of the games during this class sparked a discussion around the subject of snitching. One of the students had some very strong opinions in support of NEVER snitching. I was curious to know why she felt that way, and she she simply said that snitching is something you just don’t do. But what if snitching would keep you out of jail? She stuck to her guns. I asked other students did they agree with her and the majority of the class agreed. I guess the class forgot about all of our previous discussions about making decisions that are in their best interest.

Snitching would be in their best interest if it would keep them out of jail. Some of the students did say that there is one golden “rule” when it comes to snitching…you don’t snitch on family members or close friends. Again, I challenged them with the jail question, and once again they stuck to their guns. I continued to press to see if I could sway their decisions. I asked if they thought if their family members or close friends felt just as strongly about snitching as they did? Finally…I stumped them. They of course said they did feel the same way, but no one could truly be certain.

And that is where I ended the conversation. We can’t assume that we know what people are thinking, their beliefs or how they will respond if things really turn for the worst. We always have to keep our best interest top of mind when making decisions, no matter what the “rule” says.

Jasper Smith

Jasper Smith