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Personal finance a la 'Sesame Street'

The public-TV show could teach kids to avoid adult money mistakes with just a few plot twists.

By Karen Datko Apr 26, 2010 4:15PM

Teaching kids money basics is considered a fine idea, and many personal-finance bloggers have offered some great advice (see here, here and here, for example).


But what if we used a favorite kids TV show to educate children about financial mistakes within the context of recent events? One of our favorite PF humorists had that novel (tongue-in-cheek) idea for "Sesame Street."

“All we have to do is teach the next generation about money matters using the same tool that we use to teach them how to read and write,” says “rutgerskevin” of The Red Stapler Chronicles, who offers several twists to the normal plots of "Sesame Street." Each proposed episode cleverly incorporates one or more favorite topics of the PF world.


For instance:


Cookie Monster watches his health insurance premiums soar (Is he a WellPoint customer?) as his singular diet impacts his health. (He’s lucky he isn’t dropped completely.) “Since his premiums now take up so much of his income, Cookie Monster now has to resort to buying stale cookies at a dollar store,” Kevin writes.

Guy Smiley finds himself flush when one of his game shows is syndicated but, like some unwise professional athletes and actors, gives his agent complete control of his funds. Said agent invests Guy’s money with Bernie Madoff. Now Guy is broke again.


Ernie claims his rubber duckie as a dependent on his income tax form for many years. The IRS eventually gets wise to his mistake. He owes nearly $100,000 and borrows money from Bert. (At least Ernie didn’t fall for one of those tax debt settlement TV ads.)


Oscar loses his income during a 25-week sanitation strike and, we suspect, relies on his credit card for living expenses. “Had Oscar started an emergency fund instead of upgrading his cable when times were better,” Kevin writes, “he would have been able to ride out the strike without going into serious debt.”

Elmo racks up $10,000 in credit card debt on “tickle” massages (say it ain’t so!) and a fancy tank for his goldfish. Now the collection agencies won’t stop calling. (Elmo needs to learn about his rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. And he also has to wonder if his bad credit score means he won’t be offered a job.)


Related reading:

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