Tom Henske, Westport Library Deliver Financial Literacy for Teens Through Total Cents Podcast

Wed, Aug 17, 2022
Brendan Toller
Thomas Henske stands at the Verso Studios mixing board with Westport Library Sound Studios Manager Travis Bell. (Photo credit: Jerri Graham)
Tom Henske (right) in Verso Studios with Westport Library Sound Studios Manager Travis Bell. (Photo credit: Jerri Graham)

A financial advisor for 27 years and Westport resident for 20 years, Tom Henske knows his way around his field and his town. It was thinking about the two in tandem that brought him to a realization that has set him on a new path — and launched his latest endeavor.

“Westport is an affluent community,” said Henske, “and my concern was that the shoemakers’ kids were not going to have the right shoes! I needed to teach my kids about money, or at least get them thinking about it. I went looking for material to teach my son and there was nothing out there. It only took me years and years later, but finally, with the help of The Westport Library, we were able to create this amazing project together.”

That project is Total Cents, a 12-part Verso Studios Community Partnership Podcast that delivers advice and discussion points on financial literacy for teens. Each episode tackles key concepts in digestible 6- to 12-minute segments. Season One topics include insurance, money safety, legal documents, investing, saving, spending, the value of a dollar, and charitable giving.

[Related: Total Cents Podcast, Season One]

“It’s really a health and wellness podcast when you think about it,” Henske said. “One of the most important things for your kids to learn before they go to college is learning the basic jargon around money terms. If they don’t, they will be forever behind. They’ll start their first job out of college and won’t enroll in a retirement plan or get the right type of health insurance. All these are habits that need to be learned and practiced.

“The people who are financially successful have good habits, just like anything in life — it could be good eating habits, good exercising habits — it’s just having good money habits.”

Each podcast is reinforced by funny and topical TikTok videos appealing to teens, conversation guides for parents, and anecdotes from Henske’s forthcoming book (It Makes Total Cents: 12 Conversations to Change Your Child’s Future).

Henske acknowledges that the series has some stealth teaching components that may end up helping parents realize their own financial futures while they educate the next generation. He hopes grown-up conversations around money can help galvanize and advance other generational discussion on other potentially difficult topics.

As for Henske’s experience at Verso Studios, the longtime financial advisor and first-time podcaster said that “it was daunting for me at first to walk into the recording studio, which looks like NASA mission control. But the beauty of working with The Westport Library on this project is that Verso Studios made it really easy for me. They coached me along the way. What makes this project so special is that it’s not just one person; it’s collaborative. The experience could not have been better.”

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For more information on the Verso Studios Community Partnership Podcast initiative, contact verso@westportlibrary.org.

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