Educating Others
Our Materials

When Black decided to turn Red's crisis into a book – a brand – a business, there was no way to know that we would end up journeying into the world of education, and then criminal justice. The initial book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, was intended as the basis of a sitcom (which explains why it was written using emails, Instant Messages, and telephone conversations), and to establish the two primary characters:

  • Red, the younger sister, is a redheaded warm and fuzzy stay-at-home mom and wife
  • Black, is an extremely pragmatic brunette who retired from a male-dominated industry by the time she was 40 and started racing Porsches and then Ferraris

However, life rarely goes as planned and shortly after the book was launched by Neiman Marcus, it took on a life of its own and, instead of being the basis of a sitcom, is now the basis of various instructional materials, which we describe below. (For more detail about all these materials, please see the "Our Books & Curricula Section.")

What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! ($25)

It started with a question … in the Question & Answer portion of our first speaking engagement (to a group of professional businesswomen), someone asked the seemingly innocent question, "Why aren't these topics taught in school?" Black sarcastically replied, "How would I know? Do I look like a teacher?"

How were we to know that just months later we would be developing (and then teaching) a semester-long personal finance and Life 101 course for the Class of 2010 at KIPP Houston High School? Or, that the task force of eight seniors (who we fondly call our "Guinea Pigs") who helped us identify the topics that should be included in the curriculum would suggest that we use What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! as a textbook, calling it "a reality show in a book"?

A year after the book's launch, and only months after we piloted our program at KIPP, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) invited us to submit our materials to be considered by the Texas State Board of Education as a Personal Financial Literacy ("PFL") resource. Less than 30 days later it was approved as meeting 100% of the PFL mandates. However, we are prouder to say it is student-approved, and our firsthand knowledge indicates that middle and high school students are hungry for information on personal finance and other "Life 101" topics that is provided in a way that is thought-provoking, but also interactive, fun, and relevant.

The Book Club Approach To Personal Finance & Life 101 ($20)

Almost from the very beginning, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! was embraced by men and women, ranging from middle school students to senior citizens. We were approached by individuals, teachers, organizations, churches and synagogues who wanted to use the book for educational, philosophical, and spiritual purposes, as well as just plain reading pleasure, asking if we had a "user's guide". So, although we originally had planned for our second book to be a sequel to the first, we decided to "polish-to-publish" the document we submitted to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to qualify our book and program as Personal Financial Literacy materials.

We are pleased that so many educators find The Book Club Approach To Personal Finance & Life 101 to be a useful companion guide, but strongly suggest it be used as a supplemental resource for the teacher or moderator – but not as a traditional "sit and get" manual.

The Red & Black Story (FREE download or $10 printed version)

When we taught at KIPP Houston High School, the students were fascinated not only by the fact that we did not intend for our book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, to be an educational product (the title is clearly proof of that), but also by the history of our company, which was formed when Red's husband was fired in January 2004.

Many of our philosophies and business decisions – such as creating a hybrid publishing model, printing in the U.S.A., and deciding not to be available on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble – provide real life examples of how values and priorities impact financial decisions. The Red & Black Story illustrates, with both our words and actions, how we applied many theoretical concepts to real life business decisions and strategies. The fact that our story can be used as a case study to teach "starting a small business" (one of the State of Texas' Personal Financial Literacy requirements) is an added bonus.

The Red & Black Story is a section of The Book Club Approach To Personal Finance & Life 101 but was reformatted as a stand-alone document in conjunction with several of the Career and Technical Education courses.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Curricula, Including Soft Skills (FREE downloads or $25 printed versions)

We developed 36 different Career and Technical Education (CTE) curricula that align with over 70 different Texas CTE courses, all of which use What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! as the underlying workbook/resource. Each of the curricula was developed not only to align with the CTE course Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), but also to provide maximum flexibility to incorporate other elements of the subject matter as educators may deem appropriate. In addition, each may include topics and discussions not specifically mentioned in the TEKS, such as personal finance and other important skills, as we consider them not only relevant to the course, but critical to preparing students for the workforce – and for life.

We acknowledge, and appreciate, that CTE courses are being taught by individuals who have the knowledge and expertise to select and integrate resources in order to provide their students with the best possible learning experience. However, these same individuals have also indicated that although they have the resources to provide students with essential technical skills and knowledge, that often times the traditional instructional materials do not include critical soft skills. (As a former corporate executive, Black acknowledges that "employees are hired for their technical skills, but often fired due to their lack of soft skills.")

In addition, individuals outside the CTE world have already indicated interest in various components of the Red & Black curricula and programs, so although the materials were initially developed for CTE courses, they were developed in a way that would allow them to also be used by all educators, program moderators, thought-leaders, and self-learners.

Texas 113.49 Personal Financial Literacy, One-half Credit Elective Course (Price to be determined, but not to exceed $30)

The Texas Education Agency has requested new instructional materials for a Personal Financial Literacy one-half credit elective course. Included in our CTE offerings are three different personal finance curricula, and our preliminary review indicates each meets at least 75% of the TEKS for 113.49. Personal Financial Literacy, and we are currently reviewing them to determine which covers the largest percentage (or, if any already have 100% coverage).

It is our intent, no later than August 2018, to have curricula available that meets or exceeds 100% of the TEKS for 113.49. Personal Financial Literacy, either by updating our 2010 companion guide (The Book Club Approach To Personal Finance and Life 101) or creating a new Personal Financial Literacy curricula (unless we determine that one of the three CTE personal finance CTE curricula already meets 100% of the TEKS).