Jan 24, 2020

NGPF Podcast: Educator Rob Phelan on the joys of entrepreneurship

You get the sense after talking to Rob Phelan that he must thrive on little sleep. As you'll discover in this podcast, he has quite a few "side hustles" beyond his full-time teaching job at Catoctin High School (Maryland). Our conversation touches on entrepreneurship, the F.I.R.E.(Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement, his favorite activities in the classroom and the philosophy behind the curriculum that he is developing. Listen intently to his "scorecard" concept which emphasizes behavioral change undertaken by students in his personal finance class. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~1:24 Introduction
  • 1:24~2:39 The multiple hats Rob wears
  • 2:39~8:07 Early money lessons growing up in Ireland
  • 8:07~13:01 Moving back to the US and coaching soccer
  • 13:01~14:56 Getting tasked to teach personal finance
  • 14:56~17:02 Getting parents involved 
  • 17:02~19:43 Favorite story to tell
  • 19:43~22:30 How Rob’s course evolved
  • 22:30~24:30 The F.I.R.E. movement
  • 24:30~28:48 Process of building a curriculum
  • 28:48~29:14 A word from NGPF
  • 29:14~33:28 Creating a scorecard
  • 33:28~40:45 Activities students enjoy 
  • 40:45~42:50 A mistake Rob learned from 
  • 42:50~47:00 “The Simple Startup”
  • 47:00~49:19 Elevator pitch for the Choose FI curriculum
  • 49:19~51:18 Online tools 
  • 51:18~52:39 Conclusion



  • “I am so passionate about personal finance because I am doing it myself and I can share my own stories about it while teaching it.”

  • “It’s not all about the content knowledge. You can’t just measure a financial literacy curriculum based on a student’s ability to pass a test. You have to talk about the behaviors, the mindset and it's really hard to measure those sometimes.”


Enjoy listening to teacher entrepreneurs. Here's a few more podcasts to enjoy:

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.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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