Teach Your Children Well ... Or NOT

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cheap Talk Blog Post 11/15/07: Two experiences in the last couple weeks have made me think about the lessons we teach our kids about money, or maybe don't teach our kids. In the interest of full-disclosure, first let me say that my wife and I don't have any children (and, in the interest of fuller-disclosure, that's kind of surprising, since we've always purchased our birth control from the Dollar Store).

The first epiphany I had was at a conference where I heard a very interesting speaker, Nathan Dungan , talk about how so few American families these days make any type of formal effort to teach their kids about money. I think it was something like only 10% of families even make the effort.

But as I mentioned to Mr. Dungan after his presentation, I think 100% of parents actually teach their kids about money ... by the example they set. And based on the latest research about our proclivity for consumer debt and a negative savings rate, it's clear that the lessons we're teaching our kids about money by the example we set are mostly the WRONG lessons. Mr. Dungan and his organization Share, Save, Spend has a family-based program aimed to correct that problem, but it's a huge task, particularly when so many kids see their parents modeling just the opposite behavior.

The second experience I had recently that has my miser-mind thinking about the issue of teaching kids about money was when I had a chance to speak to two Independent Living classes at Maumee High School in Maumee, Ohio. I'd seen a news article about this course developed and taught by MHS teacher Jennifer Bayer. I was impressed with her program because it goes well beyond just how to balance your check book or maintain a good credit rating. As important as those life skills are, Bayer strives to engage students in a bigger conversation about their goals and ambitions in life and what money does - or doesn't - have to do with it.

I wasn't disappointed by Bayer or her classes of high school juniors and seniors. Bayer herself is as energetic as she is dedicated when it comes to teaching life lessons about money, a true Comrade in Thrift-craft. And the impact on her Independent Living pupils was apparent. Although like most American young people (and most American adults, for that matter), there was still an undercurrent of "more is, of course, always better" attitude, at least Bayer's students intelligently indulged my perennial question: "What's enough for you?" -- that question that each of us needs to answer if we ever hope declare victory in our own personal War for More and achieve some level of happiness and fulfillment.

While folks like Jennifer Bayer and Nathan Dungan are to be commended for their efforts to educate our children about the role money plays in our lives, their task is made immeasurably harder if the example they see at home - through their parent's behavior - is a bad example.

Thanks for reading and Stay Cheap!

[Post your thoughts, questions, or comments about my Cheap Talk Bolg and you'll automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of my book - "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches" - when it's released in January 2008.]

posted by Jeff Yeager at 8:41 AM

19 Comments:

Blogger leela said...

Jeff, looking forward to your new book. As a stay at home mom with 3 kids I feel I have worked/struggled to teach my kids that less is more. One thing I have definately learned is that you don't have to be a "tightwad" to teach your kids basic money saving strategies. Sometimes I am a good example sometimes I worry my kids lives are ruined when they point out I have been to Khols twice in one week.

December 5, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

We also need to explicitly teach them.

December 30, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

Thanks Bill. Can you share any thoughts on "teaching them" (other than by example)? Again, since I don't have any kids, I'm always interested to hear those who speak from real life expereince.

-J.Y.

December 30, 2007 1:29 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Jeff,
It is so refreshing to finally see someone announce to the world that their happiness is not tied to money. I am always saying how we Americans are so spoiled, it would serve us right to have to go without. It is hard to live in this society without being caught up in the "money tangle." I'm interested to hear more.

January 11, 2008 7:36 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Jeff,
I am so glad to see someone announce that happiness is not tied to money. We Americans are so spoiled. We could solve major political problems if we would abide by your advice. The stuff we "throw away" is mind boggling. I hope many more people hear your message and become aware of your cause. Thank you.

January 11, 2008 7:40 AM  
Blogger How I see it said...

I agree that it is a parent's duty to educate offspring not only on proper manners, health habits, and such, but also finances.

When our son was 3, we opened a Young Savers mutual fund (that unfortunately has been bought out and no longer has a good focus for children) and he got monthly newsletters with articles on things like one of the stocks in the portfolio (what it sold, etc.). He also knew what other mutual fund money was earmarked for his college education and we shared with him the monthly balances. We were switching mortgages for a lower rate and went over the spread sheets for which would be the best deal when accounting for a no cost slightly higher interest rate to a slightly lower interest rate with closing costs. At age 4, we gave him a checkbook to start balancing his own accounts (money spent from his allowance for various purchased, checks given to him for special occasions from relatives, etc.). At age 6, it was he who picked up a brochure on the new Roth IRA and told us he wanted one - I had never even heard of it myself yet. He also entered a Merrill Lynch national essay contest for 4th-7th graders on why saving is important and won $300 in US Savings Bonds. At age 7, he took a stock market class at the local CC (and had a good experience as he chose the portfolio with the highest return during the course). He also would note the prices of menu items since age 2 and comment, "I'd get X if it weren't so expensive" even though he knew we were paying and not him (and truth be told, we often told him to go ahead and just order what he wanted as we aren't poor and could easily afford it). At age 8, he had his first government paycheck (but not for enough to open a Roth IRA, sadly). At age 12, he had his own business and was finally able to open a Roth IRA. By the time he started graduate school at age 14, he had practice paying taxes and saving money (from the second business as the earnings from the first all went to study abroad programs) and has done a rather good job in continuing to save money even on a graduate student stipend (was financially independent from parents at age 14 and paying his own rent in graduate housing).

Now that I think back on it, his financial education began as a newborn, as I would have him in a store and be counting up the cost of items as I went, which no doubt seemed nuts to most people, but this might have contributed in part to his being pretty good with numbers (one of his bachelor's degrees was earned in math). And no, it didn't turn him into some number nerd who can't get along with people - he's always gotten along with others exceedingly well.

We also showed him Consumer Reports and had him give us advise on VCR purchases (in the days before DVDs), car purchases (which we taught him to buy one year used if it wasn't a new model that didn't yet have any one year old models), etc. and so he checks out ratings and prices online before making major purchases (which for him as a teen, are things like an electric guitar and laptop).

If anything, our son is a bit too cautious on spending outside of on stocks and such. He has said he doesn't want to buy a home until he can pay cash for it, and we have had to take the time to explain how you can make money off the bank's money if you invest wisely in real estate (trickier that this is to do now than a few years back), but also explain to him that it is indeed a nice feeling to have no mortgage (as we haven't since right after he finished college).

In summary, I think parents should openly share with their children whatever financial decisions are being made, big and small. Rather than buy movie tickets at the theater or buy gift cards, we get discounted ticket coupons to give as gifts and for us to use (the going price for a movie here is now $10 and our coupon tickets cost us $6.25 to $7.75 depending on the theater and if it's a new release or not). My husband and I have a gym membership, but our son lives out of state so even though he is a minor, he is no longer on our membership and has to pay something like $20 to have a 24-hour pass at the gym, so we try to go to play racquetball at say 11 PM one night and then again the next afternoon to at least get a couple games in on that one pass. There are just all kinds of ways you can share with children to get better use out of one's earnings.

January 19, 2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger Ellie B said...

Here in Australia our school system doesn't have any classes that teach about budgeting or home finance which I think is a real area of failing.

Young people are getting into trouble over small amounts of debt that they just don't pay and end up with bad credit ratings.

We are trying to teach our daughters (who are both very young) the basic difference between 'needs' and 'wants'. I think this is not just a financial lesson but one of the most important in life.

We are bombarded by marketing that is solely aimed a making us spend money, by telling us we deserve whatever they are selling and that if we buy it we will be happy. More spending just means we have to work longer hours, spend less time with our families and then fall into the trap of trying to fill the void with more stuff

Our children need to see that a true sense of fulfillment comes from friends and family and helping others rather than the latest brand of shoes or a games console.

It is one thing to try to give your children the knowledge to make them well off but I think truly educating them about money and it's effects on life can give them financial freedom.

And as a side comment I love that fiscal fasting is not primarily about saving money but is about changing attitudes. Great website!

January 22, 2008 3:05 AM  
Blogger How I see it said...

We've been lucky in that our son never went for expensive sneakers or Gameboy sorts of stuff. He likes having some rather expensive stuff, like the camera he bought himself a few years ago cost him over $1000, but he had sold thousands of dollars of his photos before he bought that camera and paid for it himself.

And I agree that knowing the different between needs and wants is crucial. Also learning patience is helpful. Our son first asked for a graphing calculator when he was 5, and I saw no need for him to have one, and from time to time for the next two years, he would politely note that he'd still like one (as he knew from seeing other kids beg and cry in stores that I would never go for such ploys and the surest way to not get something was to be whining about it). As a Christmas gift when he was 7, I finally gave him one and it amazed me how well he used it right off...it was a three color graphing calculator and he was able to create a 3-colored flower pattern with it. I felt like I probably should have given it to him years earlier when he first asked, but it's also not like it killed him not to have it and he learned patience.

January 22, 2008 11:48 AM  
Blogger joliemouse said...

Mr. Yeager, I am enjoying reading/studying your book! After having heard you on the Today show, I knew I had to have it. Many of the things you spoke of are things I've done for a long while...I never put it to mind of being "frugal" so much as they made sense to do. Dollar stores, sale bins etc. What got me the most tickled was the airline air sick bags!! I started doing that to keep people @ work from swiping my lunches! It works like a charm and my home made lunches are tasty every time. I, too, and sharing things I'm gleaning from your book with my 20yr old daughter. Who, I might add shares my zeal for a good bargain! We have long time utilized consumer reports and the like to get the best deal on what we want. The internet is a good source after one decides "what" it is you want...then go find the best $$ for it. Can't say enough about garage sales...I have even made trades @ them. upgrades for both. Anyway, thank you for being out there "representing" as the kids say. Kinda feels good to have ones habits validated!

January 23, 2008 6:50 PM  
Blogger joliemouse said...

Mr. Yeager, I am enjoying reading/studying your book! After having heard you on the Today show, I knew I had to have it. Many of the things you spoke of are things I've done for a long while...I never put it to mind of being "frugal" so much as they made sense to do. Dollar stores, sale bins etc. What got me the most tickled was the airline air sick bags!! I started doing that to keep people @ work from swiping my lunches! It works like a charm and my home made lunches are tasty every time. I, too, and sharing things I'm gleaning from your book with my 20yr old daughter. Who, I might add shares my zeal for a good bargain! We have long time utilized consumer reports and the like to get the best deal on what we want. The internet is a good source after one decides "what" it is you want...then go find the best $$ for it. Can't say enough about garage sales...I have even made trades @ them. upgrades for both. Anyway, thank you for being out there "representing" as the kids say. Kinda feels good to have ones habits validated!

January 23, 2008 6:50 PM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

(Posted by Jeff Yeager with persmision from Miser Adviser Ann Waker)

Hello Ultimate Cheapskate!

I just finished reading your book, and enjoyed it immensely. You see, I am a cheapskate from long back, and was raised by cheapskates. I happily married a man who is also fond of not spending money, so we are financially compatible. Some of you biggest tips - pay of the house early, pay off cars and drive them till you die, save, save, save for retirement - are things we've been doing for years.

One area you only briefly mentioned was kids - and you quoted some astronomical figure as to how much it costs to raise kids. Am I correct to assume you have no children? I ask this because only someone HIGH ON CRACK would spend that much money on raising their kids!

American parents have been sold the ultimate bill of goods on raising kids. You can "only have the best" for your kids, according to all the advertisers. That's a load of poopy diapers, in my book. Yet parents are the easiest sell in the world because we are so attached to our precious bundles of joy that we will pay anything to keep them happy and healthy. Just stroll down the aisles of Babies R Us and you will be amazed that there is an entire store almost completely filled with things you don't really need to have for a baby.

Well, I have a five year old daughter and a three year old son, and I am pleased to report they have not cost me that much money. There are only basic things kids need - food, shelter, clothes, childcare, entertainment, healthcare and education. I will briefly address all.

Food - Kids don't each much. All the parents I know constantly complain about trying to get their kids to eat. My son will gladly subsist on a PB&J, a piece of fruit and a glass of water for every meal if I let him. Kids also tend to like very plain, very simple food (and all the better when prepared by a parent!) If you cook from scratch, just throw in a little extra per kids and you're good to go - not much extra cost. (Though I shudder to think about when they're teenagers, but that's a ways off.)

Shelter - We bought a starter home (three bedrooms, bath and a half, 1550 square feet). We decided to stop having kids when we ran out of rooms, which means we stopped at two. Voila! No need to move into a more expensive house (and with that extra half bath there's never a line for the bathroom.) The house will be paid of when aforementioned son and daughter are 10 and 12 respectively.

Clothes - I have only two words to say on this - garage sales. Kids grow fast, so no need to spend too much on stuff they will only wear for a few months to a year. Buy used and save the difference. Works like a charm.

Childcare - Once I figured out that I wasn't actually bringing home much money once we paid for two kids in daycare, I quit my job. Since we were spending so much on childcare, with that expense gone (and a little more frugal choices) we were fine financially. So now our childcare is totally FREE! (And provided by someone who doesn't mind - too much anyway - being thrown up on occasionally.)

Entertainment - The library, the park and PBS are all free options, all providing top of the line eductional content for not one single dime. Grandparents fill in the gaps with some toys here and there.

Healthcare - This one is a toughie. Kids get sick a lot, and you do have to pay for good care when they do. This very week I have made three trips to Urgent Care - to treat pinkeye for both kids and a scratch on the eye. No way around it. We are lucky to have good insurance, and that helps a lot. OK - so in this area, you will have to shell out some dough.

Education - Here's a tip - public school are FREE! My daughter attends Kindergarten and it doesn't cost me a thing! (If I didn't like her school, I could go to a charter school - also totally free - just down the road. My options aren't limited.) What about college? There's a big cost, right? Well, it doesn't have to be. Raise your kids right and they will understand that they can go to a community college for the first two years at a fraction of the cost of a big ticket school, then finish up at a more well known school, but only have to pay two years of tuition there. Raise 'em cheap, raise 'em right.

So there you have it. I hope I have somewhat debunked the huge price tag on the kids. By the way, my precious darlings are no less valuable because I choose not to break the bank on them! ;-)

Ann Waker
Mom and Cheapskate

February 7, 2008 5:51 AM  
Blogger How I see it said...

Ann, I agree with your tips overall. We didn't have our house paid off when our son was 10 or 12, but did the same summer he graduated from college at age 13 (and we could have paid it off years earlier, but were only paying 6% interest and figured we'd let the loan ride at that low a rate). Other than the car my husband bought when we were engaged (over two decades ago now), we've paid cash for all our cars and have only bought four cars so far (the first two we bought we drove for 18 years each and we are on the second round of running them to the ground now; if you're able to drive yours till you die, you have us beat there). We've been saving the max allowable in the 401K and IRAs for about 15 years now (prior to that, I though I would die in my 20's and had no motivation to save for retirement years). As I noted in an earlier post, our son got a jump on us as he started putting in the max he is allowed by law to contribute at age 12 and so far, has continued to do so each year.

As for how much one spends on children, it can be a lot without being high on crack if the parents have a ton of disposable income, but not if the parents aren't paying credit cards off in full each month (that to me is the first sign that could be a financial problem at hand, with but a few exceptions). What was the figure quoted in the book? My guess is we spent far more than most, in part due to having only one child (so it's not like toys and books and clothes and such got handed down or shared), but it never lowered our quality of life (and don't anticipate it will bite us in retirement, though we can't know for certain).

You are lucky to have children who will gladly subsist on PB&J, a piece of fruit, and a glass of water each meal. Our son was always "odd" in that he never went for "kid meals" - was never one to like cheese pizza (or any pizza till he was well into college at around 11, I think: i felt the U should have rejected his application just due to his not liking pizza, not that they even knew this) or hot dogs or PB&J or mac and cheese...no, this kid always tended toward the most expensive food items, though he was willing to go cheaper to be considerate of our wallets. The only "kid" thing I can recall his liking is Poptarts, and he sadly is putting on weight off those in graduate school (as he has them in addition to cereal and/or fruit and/or yogurt).

Like you, we stopped having children when we felt we'd need a bigger house if we had one more (we have a 3 BR, 2.5 bath house that had more than the average square footage for an American home back when we bought it, but might be smaller than average these days) and also a bigger car (we drive small two-door cars, not big gas guzzlers).

We also had free childcare, mostly by a parent, but when we went out on our own (which we did from the time our son was a week or so of age), we usually had free childcare in the way of grandparents, friends with a child the same age as our son (so I'd watch their child at times and they would watch our son at times), friends with no children who found our son a hoot (one couple even paid for us to go to NY over the weekend for them to have our son's company that weekend), etc. I think we only paid for a sitter a handful of times the first year of our son's life (after that, he was talking up a storm and too much fun for people not to ask to have him to their place when we went out; having one child rather than two or more also makes this sort of offer far more common, from what I can tell).

And college can be less expensive that even the local CC and then a big ticket school. Our son got a merit scholarship for undergraduate school at the local state U (never went to a CC other than for Kids on Campus classes for fun) and then became financially independent at age 13 (he had multiple clients as a computer consultant and was earning $200+/hour on some projects done off location and quite a bit on others done on location) and then move out of state for graduate school at the university ranked number one in all four areas of his study (he is in an eclectic program that combines various areas of study) and is fully funded by the university (so the university pays his $47-48K/year and rising annual tuition plus 100% of his $1400-1500 and rising annual health care insurance cost plus a stipend that he uses to for his rent, food, etc. and still has enough left over so far to contribute the maximum to his Roth IRA each year). I grant that not *every* child will be able to pull this off, but probably more can than realize it.

Like you, I've also always told people that there is tons of free entertainment if you just look around, like those you mentioned and also there are often free concerts in the summer at area parks, quality opera and drama performances for cheap at student rates (the local symphony orchestra has $10 seats for students sold the day of the performance, too), bookstores often have entertainment, museums often have one day of the week that is free or discounted, state capitol tours are always free, factory tours are often free, and so on.

February 7, 2008 12:57 PM  
Blogger jim said...

My wife worked for ten years at a department store. She has a couple of insights on how buy at a department store and still live frugally.

Don't want to pay full price and wondering if an item is going on sale soon? Check the plastic sign holders which contain the price. The employees who put up these signs will place the sale price inside these holders behind the full price sign when a sale is coming up. Then, when they come in on the morning of the sale, all they have to do is remove the full price sign and the sale price is left.

Each department store has its own price codes. At her store, full price end in .99 ($19.99, $24.99, etc) Sale price ends in .00 ($15.00, $17.00). Clearence price ends in .95 ($10.97, $12.97). Then there is the crazy .77 code. This is what the store sells an item for when they own it and are trying to sell it at a rock bottom price. Usually $0.77 or $1.77.

I came home one day after work when my wife was pregnant with our first born and at the time we did not know the sex of our baby. She said, "I went baby shopping. You want to see what I bought?" She led me to a closet, and I assumed the outfits would be yellow or green. When she opened up the closet, I saw a closet full of:

blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink.

With my mouth hanging on the floor, I asked, "What did you do?"

She said: "They were all $0.77 and by the time we know what we're having, they'll be $19.99"

My reply: "Well go buy some more."

May 25, 2008 2:11 PM  
Blogger mrbenaka said...

When I was a kid money burned a hole in my pocket. I'd mow a yard for $10 and be at the baseball card shop spending the loot within a couple hours of finishing the job.

My Mom noticed this behavior and was concerned that I hadn't learned to save my money like she and my Dad had. So she issued a 6 month challenge. However much money I could put in my savings account over a 6 month period she would match at the end of the period. I made a goal of wanting to buy myself a VCR with what Mom paid out. Suddenly I was biking that mowing money to the bank instead of the store. Over those 6 months I saved $250. Mom matched it. I bought a used VCR from a pawn shop and deposited the extra $100 into my savings.

This challenge showed me how quick money can build up if you just save it rather than spend it and created a lifestyle change that led me to paying off my home by the age of 30 and paying of a hybrid car in 14 months. It goes back to advice my Dad gave me when I finished college. He said that gaining wealth has less to do with how much money you earn and more to do with how little money you spend.

In short, a challenge helped change my from a spendthrift into a tightwad.

May 31, 2008 10:25 AM  
Blogger Joshua Coffey said...

"How I see it", please stop lying. Nobody will ever believe you child was in college at age 11, so just shut up. Please.

August 27, 2009 7:42 PM  
Blogger Joshua Coffey said...

This post has been removed by the author.

August 27, 2009 7:42 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

Joshua, there are a fair number of students in college at 11 or younger, but most don't go public about it due to the student's being a minor, privacy concerns, etc. Here's a small sample of those who have been in the news (do your own Google search and you'll likely come up with others; I don't have time to type up more than a few):

Michael Kearney *graduated* from college at 10 (with his second college degree; he earned his first at 8). Earned his first master's degree at 14 in biochem and a second master's in computer science at 17. Won 1.1 million dollars in the game show "Gold Rush" in his early 20's.

Kit Armstrong: at 10, he had composed more than 15 works and attended college. At 12, he studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and the Imperial College in London. He also attended the Chapman University in California. He entered Los Alamitos High School at 7, and was ranked first in a class of 700 students. At 9, he won a $10K Davidson Fellows Scholarship. He speaks four languages.

Probably Rafael Davtian - I just know he finished his associates at 13, BA at 15, and his first master's at 16 (he earned a second from a different university) and the press noted that he earned the bachelor's in three semesters after the associate's and the master's in one year rather than two, but didn't say he earned the associate's quickly, so I am guessing he was working on that at 11. He was one of the seven valedictorians in his undergraduate class and never earned anything less than an A at any school.

August 28, 2009 8:50 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

A few more:

Mattias Gassman started college at 11 part-time in 2001, which allowed him to still compete in the 2002 National Spelling Bee (he tied for 15th place). On May 10, 2008, he graduated summa cum laude from Iowa State with two bachelor degrees (B.S. and B.A.), three majors (biophysics, German and classical studies) and one minor (history). He's earned 232.5 credits, nearly twice the number needed to graduate.

Karsten Gimre received a scholarship at the age of 10 from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon and began college as their youngest freshman. He is majoring in math and physics with a minor in economics and earning straight A's. Karsten will appear in a brief scene portraying an overactive child who superglues his hands to a wall in the film "Thumbsucker," starring Keanu Reeves. He, also, will be in "The Other Shore," a Pamplin Production documentary. He won a $50K Davidson Fellow Laureate (highest award for Davidson) at age 11 in 2005. At the age of 6, Karsten earned first place in the
International Young Artists Concert at the Kennedy Center and at 7 won the Russian-
American Young Virtuosos Competition at Carnegie Hall.

Kerensa Gimre started college at 11 and is triple majoring in chemistry, math and physics. Played a kid in “What the Bleep? Down the Rabbit Hole” in 2006 and “What the #4*! Do we (K)now!? She was accepted as a student of Herbert Stessin at the Julliard School at age 7 and made her Carnegie Hall debut at 9. She also studies acting and ballet. She had earned (as of age 12, last I saw grades reported) straight As for the past two years at Pacific University in math, music theory, astronomy and languages. At 15, she was still performing on piano.

Kathleen Holtz started at Cal State LA (third tier master’s school) at age 10 PT, age 11 FT, graduated at 15 and started at UCLA law school at 15 and graduated at 18, passed the CA on her first attempt at age 18.

August 28, 2009 8:51 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

And here's a timely one:

Tathagat Avatar Tulsi had his bachelor's at age 10 and his master's at age 12 (I think he holds the record for the youngest to earn a master's). Just earned his Ph.D., as in the article literally just hit the news an hour ago:
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/indian-prodigy-boy-completes-phd-in-physics-at-the-age-of-21_100239594.html

Sort of ironic. But going on...

Kam Hunter started college at MSU in 1977 at age 11. He was student manager of the football team and a ball boy for the MSU basketball squad which featured Earvin "Magic" Johnson during the 1979 NCAA Championship. After completing his first bachelor's degree at age 16, dual majoring in zoology and physiology, Hunter still was able to have a normal college experience. As a 17-year-old, he started a psychology degree and eventually shared his first kiss with his future wife - who he later asked to marry him on campus. Married with two young children, he is a family physician.

Gábor Lukács: The Hungarian-born teen started a Ph.D. program in mathematics and statistics at York in 1999 at age 16. By age 11, his teacher and father knew Lukács was a math whiz. He skipped high school completely by arranging an exemption with the Israeli Ministry of Education, and headed straight for the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) to study math. He completed his BA in 1998 after two- and-a-half years and completed his high-school exams at the same time. He earned a master's in August 1999. Earned his Ph.D. in 2003 at age 20. He's a full-time Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Manitoba.

Michael Grost attended the Michigan State University at age 10. He spent five years at MSU and graduated with a master’s degree in mathematics when he was 15. From ages 17-20, he attended graduate school at Yale University. He also earned a doctorate degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan when he was 23.

Alex Brueggeman started college at 9. Won a Barry Goldwater Scholarship (the most prestigious college scholarship for science and math students) at 12.

Greg Smith started college at 10, earned his bachelor's in math at 13, awarded the $300K Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship for Graduate Studies at 14, and earned his master's in math at 16. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three years.

Cassandra Stevenson started college at 10 or 11 (depends on which article source you use) and graduated with a bachelor's degree in justice and law on May 18, 2003 at age 15.

Samantha Stevenson started college at 11 and holds both a Bachelor of Science in Math and Astronomy and a Master's degree in Astrophysics.

Okay, so there are a few, and I didn't even give a bio for Norbert Weiner or Terence Tao (probably the most eminent of the early college people, so if you aren't familiar with them already, you should look them up). Seriously, college at 11 is not *that* uncommon. Bump it to 12 and you'll find a ton more still.

August 28, 2009 8:51 AM  

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