CRUNCHEd: a blog about people and numbers

10 Incredible Field Trips for Finance Nerds

While hitting the books can help you learn a great deal about the financial sector, getting out into the real world and seeing how business, markets and money really work can teach you new things you wouldn’t have even thought to look up. If you’re looking for a way to take your financial education outside of the classroom, consider one of these destinations for a field trip or to visit on vacation. You may learn some valuable things that help you come back to your degree program better, smarter and more money-savvy.

  1. New York Stock Exchange: If you want to tour this financial landmark, you had better be an early riser. Only a limited amount of people are let in each day, getting tickets from a line that starts at 9 am. If you do get in, you’ll get the chance to see how the stock exchange works from and up close and personal view in a glass-walled observation deck. If you can’t get inside the NYSE, you can still take pictures out front and pick up one of brochures they offer about the building, letting you learn about some of the intense trading that goes on inside.
  2. Federal Reserve Banks: There are Federal Reserve Banks in 12 different US cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco. This means no matter where you live, a Federal Reserve you can tour isn’t far off. You’ll have to make reservations in advance to tour one, leave your cells and cameras at home and bring along proper ID…but getting a tour isn’t a big problem. Visitors will get to see how cash is processed through the facility, the gold vault and have time to explore the Bank’s on-site museum.
  3. United States Mint: If you’d like to see how money is literally made, then head to Denver or Philadelphia’s mint locations. Tours are free and will give you a new appreciation for the work that goes into creating U.S. currency. You’ll get to see the process of making coin and paper money, from the first laborious steps of creating engravings to the actual minting process itself. Those with a coin collection can even pick up a few brand new sets on their way out of the building.
  4. American Numismatic Society: No matter the time period or the culture, this organization is dedicated to studying their currency. Visitors to this New York museum can see coins from ancient times to the modern, including relics from Roman, Greek, Byzantine and South Asian cultures, as well as some amazing collections from more recent mintings. Care to do a little research of your own? The ANS building is complete with library and archives that anyone can use. No items may be checked out, however.
  5. Wall Street: If there’s any place in the world that’s synonymous with the financial world, it’s Wall Street. Take a tour down this iconic street to sneak a peek at some of the biggest players in the financial world. From banking giants to the NASDAQ building to the homes and meeting places of some of the biggest business moguls in the world, you’ll get a chance to see where much of the American economic trade takes place. Don’t forget to stop and take a photo with the iconic bull statue that stands in nearby Bowling Green Park.
  6. Museum of American Finance: While you’re on Wall Street, be sure to check out the Museum of American Finance, the only one dedicated to sharing the history of American finance and entrepreneurship. Exhibits will help visitors to learn more about our money’s origins, banking, how markets work, the realities of our credit crisis – and may even shed some light on our Founding Fathers’ finances. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in business, finance or economics.
  7. Bureau of Engraving and Printing: If you haven’t gotten enough of seeing how money is made, venture to this Washington, DC landmark to see where it all begins. A tour will take you through the process of printing new money, starting with blank paper and ending with loads of cash. In addition to money, the facility also prints security badges, passports, White House invitations and materials for Homeland Security. If you can’t make it to DC, don’t worry – there’s another facility you can tour, located in Fort Worth, Texas.
  8. Pliny Fisk Library of Economics and Finance: While you won’t be able to check books, you don’t have to be a Princeton student to enjoy their large economics and finance library. Founded in 1895 by Wall Street banker Pliny Fisk, the collection began with information documenting the financial and business aspects of the railroad. Today, visitors to the library can page through thousands of volumes on banking, economics, law, statistics, trading and more. Those hoping to do research for their studies in economics or finance will find no better place for both current and archival information.
  9. Chicago Mercantile Exchange: Founded in 1898 at the Chicago Butter and Egg Board, today this thriving marketplace deals with a whole lot more than just butter and eggs. Trading at the CME now involves everything from alternative investments, like weather, to more traditional ones, such as commodities. Visitors to the Windy City will find two visitors’ centers at the CME, both containing viewing galleries to the trading floor below. Additional resources on hand will help you learn about the history of the CME and see how it’s expanded and evolved into the large marketplace it is today.
  10. Silicon Valley: The financial world can’t go round without business, and with much of the biggest companies in the world being tech-based, there’s no better place to visit than Silicon Valley for a lesson in entrepreneurship. A tour of this tech Mecca can take you through Intel’s museum, the Computer History Museum, the Tech Museum, Stanford University and – if you make arrangements beforehand – you may just be able to peek inside the walls of tech giants like Google or Apple. Though you might need some connections to make that happen.

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