It’s Time To Break The Money Taboo. An Interview With Personal Finance Teacher Amy Burns.
Amy Burns is the kind of teacher you wish you’d had when you were a kid.
She’s a dreamer, an adventurer at heart, and she would happily share a conversation about one of her favorite topics: money.
On paper, Amy is living the dream. She found a mission worth working for, designed a career she loves, and has a beautiful family. Behind the perfection, though, you’ll find what built that dream — smart work, undeniable sense of humor, and unbreakable passion.
Together with these skills and talents, Amy has created a job trajectory and life worth watching — we can all learn something from her work, whether that be how to switch careers, or why we should talk about Personal Finance more often.
I’m thrilled to share Amy’s inspiring story here today. Read on!
How did you decide to pursue a career as a Personal Finance teacher?
I grew up in a family of small business owners — which set the precedent for my passion for Personal Finance.
Then I went from being an Education Consultant for Husqvarna in Cleveland, to working as an Exhibit & Meetings Coordinator. This provided me with customer management and travel experience, as well as the opportunity to work with people from all over the world.
I soon realized I wanted to pursue a career in Family & Consumer Sciences. I transitioned to a substitute teaching position at my daughter’s school, and after getting my Teacher Certification, I got a job offer from the Principal at Centerburg Middle/High School.
I haven’t looked back since!
If money matters are so important, why do you think Personal Finance is not being taught at ALL schools?
The main reason is that Personal Finance is one more class that needs to be paid for. And some administrators are not in tune with the importance of teaching it to young adults.
I’m very, very fortunate to have both the Principal and Superintendent of the school as my bosses, because they understand what students really need to be successful in this world — and that includes money management classes.
Also, the second reason that I think Personal Finance isn’t taught at all schools is because nobody knows where to put it. Do the Business teachers teach it? Do the Social Studies teacher teach it?
I believe that if we want our kids to learn about money, we need to teach it from two perspectives: global economy + family finances. It’s impossible to understand how our economy works without understanding how our personal consumer choices affect our economy.
What are the biggest challenges parents face in talking to their kids about money?
- Lack of knowledge: They try, but they just don't know how to approach it, or what to say.
- Lack of time: They don't recognize opportunities as they come up in their daily lives for "teachable moments".
- They're not good at it themselves: They’ve probably made bad money choices, such as going into credit card debt up to their eyeballs.
The most important thing, though, is to keep talking about money.
In America, generally speaking, we don’t talk about money at home because we tend to think that it’s not anyone’s business to know how much we make, or how we save.
But we need to start thinking differently about that.
Any favorite tools and/or resources for both teachers, parents, and children when it comes to managing money?
I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s money management plan designed to help people get out of debt, save money, and build wealth.
At school, we use the High School Edition of the “Foundations in Personal Finance” workbook by Dave Ramsey, together with other money exercises that I prepare.
I also recommend any reads by Suze Orman.
What is some very basic but smart financial advice you can share with us?
It is important to identify your money mindset.
This is your thoughts and beliefs about money that impact your wants and needs. These beliefs often reside in our unconscious mind because, again, we are not encouraged to talk openly about money with others.
Once you are able to understand what feelings and attitudes contribute to your current financial habits, then you are in a great position to decide 1) which ones you want to keep and 2) which ones you want to change.
Real financial improvement comes from this self-awareness.
What advice would you give to your own younger self?
Lessons will be learned and mistakes will be made, but the most rewarding part will be looking back and realize that you could make it happen.
Bringing It All Together
This is probably one of my favorite interviews so far for several reasons.
First, I like that she’s candid about how it’s perfectly okay to have a second (or even a third) career to find your calling, and how she’s genuinely grateful for her journey.
Side note: I felt jealous of the kids she was teaching —they are so lucky to be able to learn from her about money and career topics (I didn’t have this opportunity back in Spain when I was in school).
Second, I love her work ethic and advice about not caring about what people think of you. There are going to be people who don’t get what you do, but you shouldn’t let that stop you, even though it may make it harder. Still do it.
A huge THANK YOU to Amy for having me as a guest in Centerburg Middle/High School, for taking the time to do this interview, and for sharing her personal story.