September 23, 2016
Is money funny? Sure, just listen to Colin Ryan, whose website calls him a “comedic financial expert.” He will bring his financial literacy presentation to Johnson State College 4-5:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, in 207 Bentley Hall.
His talk, “Manage Your Money, Reach Your Dream,” is free and open to the public.
Ryan, a financial expert and author with a background in comedy and storytelling, uses humor to teach about personal finance. Named one of the top 10 youth money presenters in the nation, he has talked to more than 200,000 students and adults across North America.
To learn more about Ryan, read the article that follows and visit http://www.colinryanspeaks.com/.
Funny Money Man Colin Ryan
by Jess Clark
A handful of years ago, Colin Ryan worked for Vermont’s credit unions in a grant-funded position, doing workshops in high schools about budgeting money. But for him, not a good match. That’s when he made a plan to pivot in his career.
“I wanted to create a job on my terms. I wanted to do work that I was really passionate about,” says Ryan, now a Burlington-based “comedic financial speaker” who will talk at Johnson State College Oct. 10.
To make his career change, he saved most of his earnings and cut expenses. “I acted like I was broke,” Ryan says. “After a while, I had bought all this time for myself…so I could work on starting my business without having to make money for awhile. As a result, I have a job where I get to speak for a living and travel all over the country,” he says.
He encourages students to budget their money responsibly. “Your ability to manage your money directly affects your ability to have the life you want,” Ryan says. “You can absolutely learn to…manage the flow of money in and out of your life.”
With rising college costs and debt, it’s an important message.
“When you’re in college and have something that you’re thinking about doing with your life or you don’t know what you want to do, it’s not often enough that the message is that your choices with your money will have a direct impact on your ability to actually do what you want to do with your life. I don’t recall getting that message at all during school,” Ryan says.
Part of his strategy is to track individual spending patterns and be aware of related unproductive habits. “I meet so many people who say, ‘I’m horrible with my money.’ There may be some small behaviors that you can change,” Ryan says. “We can make better choices with the money we have.”
He admits to what he calls his own bad spending habits, particularly with candy — soft, chewy Swedish fish are a big temptation.
In his interactive talks, Ryan encourages students to discuss unwise decisions they’ve made about money. “I help people laugh at their mistakes,” he says. “People can learn from other people’s mistakes. Every mistake we make is the story that sets up the lesson we learn.” Humor reinforces his message.
Ryan, 36, grew up in Ballston Spa, New York, and pursued stand-up comedy and storytelling in part to enhance his public-speaking skills. He’s has performed at comedy clubs in St. Albans and elsewhere and sometimes hosts the monthly “Storytelling VT” event in Burlington.
His career pivot has brought good results. He was named a Rising Star under 40 in 2013 by Vermont Business Magazine. In 2015, he won a national radio storytelling competition for “Juggling and Jesus,” an anecdote about his boyhood involvement in his church’s Clowns for Christ troupe. And Ryan was named one of the top 10 youth money presenters in the country by the National Youth Involvement Board, which serves the credit union industry.
Particularly impressive for someone who majored in communications — not a business-related subject — in college and worked for a while as a freelance writer.
Stand-up comedy and storytelling “are like another form of writing. You get to deliver it to an audience and feed off their energy,” Ryan says. “Combining comedy, storytelling and personal finance to me felt very intuitive. It’s something a lot of people see benefit in.”
In addition to undergraduates, he speaks to high school students and teachers, parents and financial educators.
“You try to inspire other people, and you get way more inspired by them. I really like that my work is creative, and I always have new stories I can share,” Ryan says. “The more conversations we can have about money in a positive and hopeful manner, the better.”