Nov 12, 2017

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks to Fred Selinger, Personal Finance Educator At Cal Berkeley

Thanks to Fred Selinger, Personal Finance instructor at Berkeley's Haas School of Business for joining me recently on the NGPF podcast. Fred shares his exciting story of how he went from a successful business career in corporate finance to taking on the challenge of building a personal finance program at one of America's flagship universities, the University of California at Berkeley. He describes the meteoric rise of the program: from the the first day of class when he didn't know if anyone would show up (thankfully about 20 students did!) to today where he is filling auditoriums with hundreds of students eager to learn these essential money skills. Listen carefully to Fred's Rules and you too will benefit from his wisdom. Enjoy!


  • 0:00–1:05: Introduction
  • 1:06–2:20: Fred’s assortment of day jobs
  • 2:21–6:04: How crisis management situations are akin to New York Times crossword puzzles
  • 6:05–9:37: How Fred at 10, the paper route boy, learns the value of saving money
  • 9:38–15:15: The long road of academia to develop a personal finance class
  • 15:16–19:19: What motivates Fred to get out of bed each morning
  • 19:20–24:11: Evolution of teaching personal finance
  • 24:12–30:16: The only prerequisite for the course is the desire to learn
  • 30:17–33:05: Four main pillars of his course
  • 33:06–35:02: Important disciplines to follow when it comes to managing finances
  • 35:03–37:21: “You don’t have to be an expert in this field [to learn]”
  • 37:22–41:42: The hurdles Fred has conquered to make this course more widely available
  • 41:43–45:53: Learning life lessons by example
  • 45:54–46:53: Best thing Fred bought for under $10
  • 46:54–47:45: Best book for personal finance
  • 47:46–50:10: The rule of Fred, rival of Shakespeare and Descartes
  • 50:11–50:56: Conclusion

 Fred's background:

Notable Quotes:

  • On his earlier career in corporate finance: “The way I looked at it was… If I could save this company, then certainly the investors and the banks would be happy, but it was the people that I looked at. If I could save those jobs, then there was real meaning to me… That, to me, was the most rewarding experience.”
  • On talking to Administration about the course: "I don’t want any money. All I want to show you is that the kids will want this. You wait and see… There’s never been a moment of looking backwards to the idea of being able to help these students create wealth and the concept of giving back to their community. This is my life… this is what I do, and and everyday is a thrilling experience.”
  • “We try to catch these students as they’re about to start their careers because paychecks do not come with instructions.
  • “Real wealth is, I think, the ability to not only be financially independent, but also to be able to follow your passions in life.”





About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!

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