Sammy Rabbit is pleased to Spotlight Atlanta elementary school teacher and personal finance author Danny Kofke. Danny has written four books on money, including The Wealthy Teacher. He has been featured in a wide variety of media and delivered hundreds of presentations on money management across the country. Danny aims to help and show others that if a school teacher can do well financially, they can too!
Sam X Renick: Why is it important to teach kids about money?
Danny Kofke: According to a recent study, 43% of Americans are struggling to pay their monthly bills. In addition, a minority of workers feel engaged in their jobs. However, because of a lack of money management, they continue to show up day after day even though they would rather be somewhere else (like a hamster in a wheel). I feel the number one reason we need to teach kids about money is so they can achieve more in life than they ever thought possible.
Renick: What was one of your big dreams as a kid?
Kofke: My biggest dream was to roam centerfield for the Atlanta Braves. Even though I played baseball in high school and junior college, I definitely needed a back up plan. I actually knew I wanted to be a teacher after having Mr. Stuztke in 9th grade Civics. I pretty knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was 14 years old.
Renick: What is one of your big dreams for 2019?
Kofke: To have the biggest impact I can wherever I am called. I am actually in the process of starting a non-profit to help others manage money better. It is in the beginning stages so I not sure what will happen with it. I just continue to pray that I use the abilities I was given to help others.
Hot and Humid Work
Renick: What was your first job?
Kofke: My family owned an appliance store and I cleaned old, dirty appliances in the hot and humid warehouse and helped deliver and set them up as well. More on this next!
I Treated the Truck Like a Mercedes
Renick: At what age did you realize money had value? Please share a paragraph or two about the experience
Kofke: When I turned 15, like many boys, started thinking about my first car. I was fortunate enough to have parents that agreed to match the amount I earned towards the purchase of a vehicle. At this point I lived in South Florida. There is nothing like the humidity there! During the summer before I turned 16, I worked at my family’s appliance business. While my friends were having fun sleeping in and then going to the beach, I was cleaning and delivering appliances in the stiffling Florida heat. It felt like 100 degrees by 10 am most mornings!
I am proud to say I earned about $2,000 that summer and, with my parents’ match, bought a $4,000 truck. I treated this truck like it was a Mercedes. I knew how many early mornings I had to wake up and how much sweat went into me buying it. I had friends that were given cars and they definitely did not take care of them like I did mine.
This experience taught me that hard work does pay off. It also taught me how hard it is to earn a dollar which led me to value money.
Delaying Gratification Pays Off
Renick: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be?
Kofke: Delayed gratification. This enables you to save money for unexpected events that will happen. For kids, this might be a new video game that comes out or the latest fashion craze. For adults this might mean a new roof or a car repair. When you set money aside you can turn a potential catastrophe into a mere inconvenience instead.
Start Early for a Lifetime of Rewards
Renick: At what age do you think parents should start teaching kids about money?
Kofke: My wife, Tracy, and I started teaching our daughters about money when they were 3 years old. We paid them for doing certain things around the house and then divided their earnings into 3 jars – Give Away (10%), Savings (25%) and Spending (the rest). They were paid $1 a week for these chores but the lessons learned will hopefully last a lifetime. Just think, if we followed this simple practice as adults, we would all be wealthy!
Favorite Read: an Eye Opener
Renick: What is your favorite book on personal finance and why?
Kofke: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. I read this book when I first started on my financial journey and it really opened my eyes. Like many, I always figured that people who drove nice cars, lived in huge houses and wore the best clothes were rich. This book showed what a millionaire really looks like and why frugality is so important when it comes to building wealth.
To learn more about Danny visit him at www.wealthyteacher.weebly.com.