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Money Trees

For other activities, see the Activities Chapter.

Investing in the stock market, mutual funds, bonds, ... is becoming more important in our lives especially in light of the possible changes to Social Security. It is especially important for our children to start understanding the terms early. This fits in well with the Personal Management Merit Badge.

What better way to promote interest and learning than to hold a competition to see whose portfolio is worth the most after a year?

You might want to offer a prize, like a $50 savings bond, for the person whose portfolio is worth the most at the end of the period.

The youth and the adults really enjoyed this activity. Talk to them about stocks and mutual funds, the terms, the risks, how to do research on the internet, ... Give them a couple of weeks to pick up to five stocks or mutual funds each.

Run the competition for a fixed period of time, say one year. Get a newspaper for the day you are going to start the competition. That way you can look up the starting prices of stocks for those who don't get started on time.

Limit the choices to stocks and mutual funds listed in the newspaper. Decide on an amount of money, for this example $1000, that each person will have to invest. Have them give you a dollar amount for each stock (like $500 of XXX, $200 of YYY, and $300 of ZZZ). The sum of all should be $1000. You will have to determine the number of shares of each stock or mutual fund.

Download this Excel Spread Sheet to help you keep track of the investments. There is a summary page that is easy to print that shows everyone's progress. Then there is one sheet for each participant.

Summary Page

Summary Page

To set the summary page up, insert a worksheet for each participant using Insert => Worksheet. Then right click on the tab, select Rename and change the name to the person's name. Then update the formulas in column A and B with the person's name.

Insert extra rows as needed for additional participants. Adjust the formulas at the bottom to span all the participants.

Individual Page

Individual Page

My Netscape has a feature that allows you to select a large number of stocks and display their value on one page. This makes capturing the information very easy. This is very important since you will be getting up to five stocks/mutual funds per person. You'll have to sign up with Netscape to access it.

Updating the spreadsheet takes a little time, but having all the stock values on one page helps. On each individual's page, you must copy rows 14 to 17 and paste them at the bottom. Leave a blank line to make it more readable. Update the price of each stock. Then on the summary page, copy the last two columns and paste them in the next column. In each value cell, you will have to change the row number of the formula to the correct row. If you leave one blank line, then just add five to the row number.

After participants have chosen their stocks and you have updated the spreadsheet, print out the individual page for each person and a copy of the summary page for everyone. That way everyone will know how many shares of each stock they bought.

Update the spreadsheet monthly and give each participant a copy of the summary sheet. Discuss who has had big gains or losses and why those things might have happened. Better yet, let the youth explain it to the group. Some reasons for change include corporate announcements, profit, loss, market share, new product, and new management.

The Internet is a huge resource. However, be warned, many web sitees require you to sign up before using their free services. After doing the research for this activity, I started receiving a lot of junk/SPAM e-mails. You might want to set up a free e-mail account on Yahoo or Hotmail to use.

Copyright © 2005 Vincent Hale