Who wants to be a millionaire?

As one does when one has a teetering pile of deadlines and a nasty stomach bug derived from having runny Brie with Tariq Ali at lunch (me! Ali! Brie!), I’ve been spending time at the Kids section of the Bureau of the Public Debt. And I’ve learned a great deal. I strongly recommend the teacher’s guide entitled Money Math: Lessons for Life. In it you’ll be directed to

Ask the following. Do you want to be a millionaire? What is a

millionaire? Explain that a millionaire is a person who has

wealth totaling one or more million dollars, noting that wealth

is the total value of what a person owns minus what he or she

owes. How could you become a millionaire? (win the lottery,

win a sweepstakes, inherit a million dollars, earn a high

income) Read the following scenario to the class.

Last week, Mrs. Addle told her students that they could

become millionaires if they followed the rules she

provided them. As a matter of fact, she guaranteed that if

they followed her rules exactly, they would be millionaires

in 47 years! Misha and the rest of her classmates thought

that Mrs. Addle was crazy. If she had rules that would

guarantee that someone could be a millionaire, why was

she teaching seventh-grade math? Why wasn’t she rich

and retired? Why didn’t she follow her own rules? Mrs.

Addle told the students to go home and talk to their

families about what she had said.

Misha went home and told her family what Mrs. Addle

had said. Misha’s mother knew a lot about money and

financial matters. She just smiled at Misha and said that

Mrs. Addle was correct. When Misha returned to class

the next day, Mrs. Addle asked what the students’ families

said. Of the 25 students in Mrs. Addle’s class, 20 students

said that their parents and other family members agreed

with Mrs. Addle. The other five students forgot to ask.

After some faffing around with percentages and inflation, teachers are encouraged to

Point out that the newest type of U.S. savings bond is the I

Bond. I Bonds are inflation-indexed and designed for savers

who want to protect themselves from inflation. Define

inflation as an increase in the average level of prices in the


C’mon kids! It’s index-linked T-bill time! The booklet is stuffed with similar instructional gems, and the section on what you’re going to be when you grow up will test your stomach to the limit. Mine didn’t hold out but, as I say, I’m sure that’s because of the Brie.