We design learning experiences that make
financial fluency relevant and fun.

At the heart of Independent Means is the Great Families program, a comprehensive, five-stage financial and human capital education process.

The program includes 200+ customizable, experiential modules appropriate to each stage of the life cycle. These programs include project-based learning that builds practical skills and financial knowledge for success in the context of wealth.


Browse an outline of our stage-based curriculum below.

Kids start on the journey towards lifelong financial literacy though hands-on modules designed to take advantage of their energy and curiosity. Modules focus on core skills of saving, spending, and philanthropy, building fluency and good habits.

This stage includes:

Saving:
Like learning to brush one’s teeth, financial values and language are best acquired early. This module includes parental messages, habits, and skills for young children.

Time, Treasure, Talent:
Philanthropy is an effective tool for developing generosity, ethical conduct and compassion in children. These activities help children discriminate and identify how to use their time, skills, and ‘savings’ to make a difference for others.

Spending:
At any asset level, the ability to distinguish needs and wants and to be mindful about cash and spending patterns is critical. A variety of games and activities helps build early awareness and decision-making skills.

Increasingly aware and empathetic ‘tweens are encouraged to engage with their new passions through imaginative modules and simulations that put them in the various roles, from philanthropist to entrepreneur. Other modules provide practical tools for newfound responsibility. 

This stage includes:

Saving:
Saving, in the context of the tween years, includes an understanding of the consequences of compound interest and delayed gratification. These activities emphasize sustaining resources and planning for the future.

Philanthropy:
Using ‘tweens’ own interests (ranging from children and hunger; zoos and/or aquariums (science), and the environment, etc) as vehicles for exploring philanthropy, this module gives young people a direct experience with making a difference.

Allowance Management:
'Tweens are already using and managing—or not—money. This module offers a thoughtful approach to the use of an allowance as a tool for developing financial skills.

Self-Assessment:
MoneyScore® sets the stage for assessing children’s awareness and readiness for the Ten Basic Money Skills.

Entrepreneurship:
The ubiquitous lemonade stand is a timeless reflection of young initiative. This module seeks to capture and encourage that early spirit of inventiveness, while going well beyond the lemonade stand.

Hard Conversations:
Financial bullying is a common experience for children of means. Practice and strategies for self-defense are the focus of this module.

Teens intent on asserting their independence build on the basics they learned as “kids” and begin to envision grown-up lives and gain the skills they’ll need to navigate them. Familiar topics are expanded with new vocabulary and concepts. New modules introduce credit and careers as opportunities for self-expression.

This stage includes:

Lifestyle, Saving and Sustainability:
An overview of savings tools as well as an exploration of basic investing methods offer a more sophisticated understanding of savings financial management.

Philanthropy:
A growing awareness of causes and concerns must be paired with a thoughtful approach to philanthropic strategy and a connection to the work done through the family foundation. Includes charitable giving; social enterprise; policy, activism, and giving.

Allowance Management:
Teens develop budgeting skills as a tool for managing cash flow, windfalls and emergencies, and make choices based on personal values to guide their financial behavior.

Self-Assessment:
An updated MoneyScore®, values clarification, and an introduction to family legacy and stewardship set the stage for teen modules.

Entrepreneurship:
Whether children have any interest in family businesses or not, these are highly creative years. Helping teens link their most creative urges (in the arts education, environment, etc.) with entrepreneurial skills is the focus of this session.

Hard Conversations:
Fending off embarrassing questions and the complexity of managing social media and social situations begins early for children growing up in prominent families. This session provides practice with financial etiquette and sticky situations.

Credit and Trust:
Covers credit scores, debt, trust and ethics as a foundation for managing personal finance.

Career:
“Who am I?” is the central question of this age and the answer helps young people identify the passions and interests that drive careers.

Increasingly aware and empathetic ‘tweens are encouraged to engage with their new passions through imaginative modules and simulations that put them in the various roles, from philanthropist to entrepreneur. Other modules provide practical tools for newfound responsibility. 

Lifestyle, Saving and Sustainability:
An introduction to building and sustaining wealth using various savings and investment tools. This session is aimed at helping young people make thoughtful choices about lifestyle needs and income required to sustain goals, needs, passions. Includes an emphasis on building language sufficient to have effective conversations with family office and key advisors.

Philanthropy:
Teenagers care deeply about social causes and the needs they see in their immediate lives. This module encourages a strategic, pro-active approach, rather than a reactive approach, to philanthropic engagement. Helps teens develop their own mission statement and giving criteria.

Money Management:
The module emphasizes budgets, allowance management, cash flow, and situational financial choices.

Self-Assessment:
Includes a suite of assessment tools. The goal is a shift from judgment (you aren’t financially responsible) to competency (here are the skills we build on).

Entrepreneurship:
The 21st century requires a more entrepreneurial approach to life and career. Whether joining the family business, starting one’s own or pursuing the arts, fashion, education, non-profits, science, etc., the ability to create and manage a balance sheet and marshal one’s own leadership potential will be vital to sustaining assets and financial independence. This module introduces entrepreneurship skills for the 21st Century.

Hard Conversations:
Basic financial etiquette now evolves to a more complex set of life issues: dealing with the demands of friends and dating partners; contemplating pre-nuptial agreements, personal safety, and issues that include eating out to gifts, loans, and business ‘opportunities.’

Credit:
This session ranges from a heightened emphasis on the power of credit scores to the use of credit as ‘leverage’ in business. Includes new information related to 2010 credit laws.

Careers:
Includes strategies for exploring interests specific to each child. IMI also provides help with internship placements.

Legacy and Stewardship:
Family history, shared values, and legacy are key to balancing the privileges and responsibilities of human and financial capital.

Beneficiary Development:
Designed for people on the brink of first meetings with trust attorneys, this module is an introduction to trusts and fiduciary responsibilities. (Includes use of the ‘Buck & Bill’ animated short.)

As young adults enter increasingly independent lives, expanded modules offer a more in depth look at core topics. Other modules offer tools for meaningful participation in family ventures ranging from family boards to businesses to philanthropic endeavors.

Lifestyle, Saving and Sustainability:
Shorts, longs, and derivatives will cause a glazing of the eyes for many adults. But trust beneficiaries have an obligation to be sufficiently knowledgeable to understand reports provided by advisors, to be vigilant about counsel received, and to discern good decision making in the face of conflicting advice. This module is an introduction to learning that will continue throughout life.

Philanthropy:
Newly or soon to be independent young adults become familiar with the tools of family philanthropy in this critical look at donor advised funds and due diligence.

Financial Accountability:
Financial awareness (what is my balance sheet and how sustainable is my lifestyle) is a basic requirement of independence. This module helps participants analyze and assess financial behavior in the context of their personal mission and fiduciary responsibilities.

Personal Economic Mission Statement:
As we grow older perspective changes and young adults are faced with new expectations—from other family members, the world beyond family, and themselves. Taking stock of financial values and mission—in the context of this stage of development provides a platform for big decisions and opportunities confronting them.

Taking Positions of Control:
Next generation members will have many opportunities to participate in boards and to be engaged in civic, social and business activities at an early age. This module reviews strategies for becoming effective board members and participants—as well as leaders.

Prenup Prep: Readiness for a New Way of Being
Prenups strike fear into the heart of family members: parents who worry their children will be taken advantage of; young adults who fear the dreaded phrase will destroy any chance of real love. In fact, prenups are just one aspect of growing up in the context of wealth and becoming a thoughtful steward of family assets—human and financial. This module explores prenups as just one array of relational issues in the context of family assets and responsibilities. It gives participants a deeper understanding of the benefits and objectives of thoughtful preparation while providing strategies for managing the process.

Why Credit Matters:
Buying, leasing, bartering, swapping– how to think about big purchases, even when someone else will handle the deal. Assessing investments VS consumption; understanding due diligence as it pertains to the engagement ring or the purchase of sheep farm; and knowing when and how to use good advisors are all topics covered in this module.

Opportunities and Responsibilities of Ownership:
What does it mean to be financially responsible in the context of family? Shareholders, trust beneficiaries, and members of operating businesses have fiduciary and ethical obligations to be mindful and engaged in the assets—human and financial—that encompass their wealth. This module reviews key issues that successful shareholders and stakeholders will manage over the course of a lifetime.

Wealth Transfer:
When surrounded by expert tax attorneys, accountants and advisors, the issue is not to be an expert, but to know enough to talk with and use the best services of those experts. This module translates the what’s and why’s of estate planning into plain English.