By the time you were 17, what was your biggest accomplishment? Maybe the middle school soccer team you were on won the state championship or that band you started in high school won a battle of the bands.
For Tal Boger, a junior at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, both his interests and his accomplishments are quite different from your average 17-year-old. At the age of 7, Tal made his first monetary investment — the purchase of a mutual fund with his own birthday money — and has been aggressively studying the sophisticated nuances of investing money ever since. On Sept. 10, he published his first book on the subject.
“The Inside Scoop: Kids’ Sweet Journey to Investing Knowledge” is a fictional story with very real insights into the process of starting a business and investing profits. Tal’s story is narrated in a voice that is palatable for children, yet shares enough insight to educate even young adults.
The main character is Bob, who, like Tal, is a young entrepreneur with a wealth of knowledge about investing dollars. When summertime rolls around and Calvin, the only ice cream stand operator in town, is making lots of cash selling cheap, disgusting ice cream, Bob aims to provide the town with a tastier alternative and make some money.
The JT spoke with Tal two years ago about his Kickstarter campaign, which raised money for the book. At that point, the fictional narrative was not part of the plan. “Originally I wrote something and didn’t think that it would be interesting for kids to read,” he said, “so I rewrote it with the story of the ice cream stand. “
Much of the subsequent content was inspired by a real-life interaction Tal had with a classmate. “One of my friends asked me to teach him about investing,” he said, “I started by talking normally, and he didn’t really learn from it.” It was only once he incorporated drawings and providing hypothetical examples that his friend caught on.
Like Bob in the story, Tal has long-term plans to expand his business if the book is successful. “I’d like to start some kind of investing-for-kids platform.” His idea is to create a robo-adviser — software that provides financial council based on algorithms — targeted “for kids with the purpose of helping them manage their money.”
When asked why teaching children to invest money is so important, Tal pointed to the financial benefits of the long view and not waiting until you’re an adult before saving money. His father once used a metaphor to explain: “If your basketball team is losing, do you think it would be easier for them to come back if they [started trying harder] in the fourth or first quarter?”
Yuval Boger, Tal’s father, said his involvement in the project was “really [to be] more of a sounding board. Tal ran some of his drafts by me,” but most of the nitty-gritty details were Tal’s decisions. “I have never published a book or ever been close to someone who has. When we started the process a few years ago, I didn’t have the same appreciation for it I do today. Throughout these two years, Tal has persevered and was always open to [new ideas].”
If publishing a book before adulthood wasn’t enough, Tal also works as a research assistant for Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University. Tal is the youngest student with whom Hanke has ever worked.
Like Tal, Hanke began his investment career early, hedging eggs on his grandfather’s farm in Iowa. In an afterward for the book, Hanke writes that Tal “has not only beaten my record, starting to invest at 7 years of age, but has become one of my best students, even though he is the youngest.”
Connor Graham is a local freelance writer.