How to Understand Stuff Without Really Trying

I keep thinking about this one thing that Heidi Moore said: that personal finance and high finance don’t really have anything to do with each other. On one hand, duh, but on the other hand, just because I never took an economics course and have seen Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps three times and still don’t exactly understand what happened, well … I can still figure out how to not spend money I don’t have. I find this to be a comfort.

But: It’s also really fun to have a cursory understanding of what’s up in high finance! My brother and my dad both know What Is Up With That Stuff, and it’s really cool to be able to listen to their discussions and actually follow along. And maybe even comment sometimes (“Oh, I concur”).

If you, like me, want to know What Is Up With That Stuff, but not so much that you’re willing to read Barron’s everyday (or ever?), here’s what you should do:

1. Watch all of Paddy Hirsch’s Whiteboard videos. They are incredible. He is incredible. His accent is incredible. The way he throws the pen at the end is incredible. And most incredibly, he explains very, very complicated things in very, very uncomplicated ways. Gold star.

2. Okay, maybe “all” is a tall order, fine. Just start with one or two of Paddy Hirsch’s Whiteboard videos. There are a lot. I get it. It’s daunting. But start with one! You’ll understand something. You’ll have a bit of a crush. You’ll feel smarter. Promise. (This one on what an IPO is might be a simple place to start! And timely! You know, because Facebook’s IPO is on Friday.) If at first you don’t succeed in forcing yourself to read the Wall Street Journal and the business section each day … get someone sum it up for you, with pictures.