For a small town, Westport has been known for many things.
We’ve been an artists’ colony, the marketing capital of America, and the home of the world’s biggest hedge fund.
Now, Tom Henske wants Westport to be “the epicenter of kids’ financial literacy.”
If anyone can make it happen, he will.
A financial advisor for 27 years, a Westport resident for 20, a man of boundless energy, a relentless competitor (goalkeeper on 3 University of Virginia national championship teams), and the father of 2 children he was determined would learn about money, he has made children’s financial literacy the heart of a multi-pronged project.
Henske is the type of person who comes up with one great idea, spins it off into several others, then weaves them all together into a seamless web.
He also loves his town. He’ll use every resource here, to show it off to the world.
The first part of his project is a book. It Makes Total Cents is an easy way for parents to help their children understand finances.
Twelve chapters cover topics like budgeting, saving, compound interest, taxes, borrowing, insurance and philanthropy.
Parents read one short chapter a month (15 minutes). Each chapter has a corresponding podcast (created with the Westport Library — more on that later). In that short podcast, Henske helps parents frame questions that they can ask their children …
… at dinner, after they’ve sent one of Henske’s TikToks to the kids, to pique their curiosity.
There is no book like this on the shelves, he says. And certainly no corresponding material, to help parents raise financially literate kids.
Henske knows, because he looked. He did not want his son Spencer and daughter Sammi to be financially illiterate — “the shoemaker’s kids with no shoes” — so he searched for information.
He found plenty for parents. But nothing for children and teenagers.
So he created it himself.
The Library is a perfect partner. Henske tapes his podcasts at Verso Studios *(they sound great).
He’s also spoken with Staples High School Financial Literacy teachers Lenny Klein, Sarah White and Stacey Delmhorst about having interested students help the project. They would be teaching their peers. It’s one more way to connect the schools and Library — and make Westport the financial literacy capital of the universe.
Now comes a uniquely Henskean twist. In an effort to get Total Cents into as many hands as possible, he’s worked overtime on marketing. In addition to his countless contacts, he’s got an idea: Westporters can help spread the kids’ literacy gospel.
For every Total Cents book someone here buys for a friend or relative beyond the “06880” Zip Code (click here), he’ll buy one for the local resident to pick up. Just send Henske the invoice: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s one more way, he says, “where Westport meets the world.”
And where Westport leads the world, in financial literacy for kids.
(For more information, click on www.TotalCents.com.)
(Here’s another financial idea: Please contribute to “06880.” Click here to support your hyper-local blog.)