I am pleased to share Bobbi Olson’s childhood money memories and insights on kids, money and financial literacy education.
Bobbi Olson is a Budget Coach and Host of the “CentsAble Chat” podcast. She focuses on breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle by teaching positive money mindsets, how to destroy debt and reduce financial stress.
Bobbi has been producing financial radio shows/podcasts for more than 20 years, and has become passionate about personal finance for middle class and low income levels – especially budgeting! She admits to making every financial mistake she could find, but she was able to dig herself out of debt. She made and followed a plan for financial freedom, and now helps others do the same.
BUDGETS BUST FEAR
Leslie Girone: Please briefly share with us a little about yourself as a child, teen, young and adult and what has led you to your current career.
Bobbi Olson: As far back as I can remember, I feared money. I knew we were poor and was taught (non-verbally) that this was our reality – now and always – nothing we could do to change it. I believed it, well into my adult life, and made a ton of money mistakes! After taking a job I didn’t want, to pay off a ton of debt from a failed business venture, I was miserable. I couldn’t find another job with comparable pay and couldn’t afford a pay cut, because I was mired in debt! At my wits end, I picked up a book called, “The Sixty Minute Money Workout” and the simple lessons inside changed my life! I learned easy ways to pay off debt and that it IS possible to change your circumstances and take control of your financial life! It turns out math doesn’t lie! The belief alone was freeing and made me thirst for more information on how to do it. It was so exciting, such a huge change and so much simpler than I ever thought possible. I had to find a way to share it with others, because I knew there were many more like me! Plus, I fell in love with budgeting to the point where I longed to play with the numbers, well after my budget was complete, so I was begging to help others – as much to get my fix as to help them! Now I’m debt-free, building wealth and helping others learn to budget their way to financial freedom.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Leslie: This a question we ask everyone. It is the question Sam X Renick asked himself prior to creating Sammy Rabbit and entering the financial literacy industry. If you could only teach a child one money habit, WHAT money habit would you teach them? Please explain why.
Bobbi: I would teach them to budget, because the budgeting process encompasses so many other money habits and brings them together like pieces of a puzzle, to create a solid financial foundation. Budgeting is strategizing. Strategizing can help you overcome any financial issue and reach any financial goal. Knowledge is power – much more powerful than money alone!
Leslie: Did you have a money mentor or primary personal finance influence as a child or teen? If so, please share who it was and what you learned that still influences you today.
Bobbi: Sadly, no. And anyone who would have tried to teach me probably would have failed at that point, because I strongly believed that solutions of any kind could work for others (especially the rich) but not me. I had to make a lot of mistakes and hit “rock bottom” before the pain was enough to make me desperate for a change.
DURAN DURAN DREAM CAME TRUE
Leslie: Tell us about your first experience earning money? How old were you? What type of a job was it? How much did you earn? What did you do with the money? What did you learn?
Bobbi: I was 9 when my obsession with Duran Duran began – too young to go to their concerts. By the time I was old enough, they’d broken up. But I had faith! One day, they were going to reunite – and when they did, I wanted to have enough money to pay for a concert ticket – I knew what the answer would be if I asked my mom for the money! So I started babysitting when I was 12 and saved every dime. I called the concert hotline every day, hoping they’d be listed…a year later, my dream came true! The date was set and I’d saved enough to buy tickets for me and my best friend, with enough left over to buy a t-shirt, program, whatever I wanted! I don’t remember how much I earned – probably between $50 and $100.
PRICEY SCHOOL REGRET
Leslie: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?
Bobbi: I worked all through high school to pay for tuition, but I was miserable! Looking back, I wish I would have gone to public school, still worked, but saved the money.
Leslie: Did you work while you were in college? Please share a little about how working or not working while attending college affected you, your studies, and personal finance choices including student debt.
Bobbi: I worked at least one job, while attending college, sometimes two at once. My mom paid for housing, but I was responsible for everything else – tuition, books, fees, etc. I attended community college and kept it in balance pretty well so it didn’t affect my studies. I followed my plan to complete a 2-year certificate program for radio broadcasting, then started working. That was the extent of my college experience. I didn’t even consider student debt. I was afraid of debt and believed anything beyond community college was just too expensive to ever be an option for me, so I never really considered getting a degree. Now, I realize there are many options available to pay for college without drowning in debt.
“Creating good money habits early can help steer them away from bad ones.”
CREATE GREAT MONEY HABITS EARLY
Leslie: Cambridge University research indicates adult money habits are set by age 7. At what age do you believe parents should start teaching kids about money and why?
Bobbi: As soon as they start asking for money, or for their parents to buy things for them – because it’s an open door for discussion and much easier to set a precedence at the beginning, instead of trying to “change the rules” down the road. Creating good money habits early can help steer them away from bad ones. And I believe that, if kids can learn to walk and talk as early as they do, they’re certainly capable of grasping simple money concepts!
MONEY MINDSET MATTERS
Leslie: Did your parents talk to and teach you about money as a child? Please share a little about your experience on the topic while growing up. And, if you have children are you talking to and teaching them about money?
Bobbi: I was raised by a single mom, who was always struggling to make ends meet. There were no verbal lessons. The non-verbal lessons I learned were buy as cheap as you can, because nothing matters more than the price tag – not value, time or enjoyment. I also learned to work hard, because you’ll never have enough money. Never turn down a chance to earn money, even if it means missing important events like weddings, graduations – NOTHING is more important than the paycheck. Hope that you’ll get ahead in life and hope that nothing unexpected happens. If you fall into a financial hole, you’ll never get out, so just try to survive. Wear your struggles as a badge of honor; you don’t want to be a “snobby rich person” anyway. I definitely got a strong work ethic from it, but my priorities and money mindset were certainly out of whack for many years! Some financial experts say if you have a negative connotation associated with wealth, it can stop you from being wealthy and I’ve certainly come to believe that! Now, instead of avoiding wealth because of the misnomer that it makes you “snobby,” I’m striving to obtain the kind of wealth that allows me to financially help others and give back, knowing I’m in a position to do so, without negatively impacting my own financial situation.
I don’t have children, but if I did, I would DEFINITELY teach them about money. I don’t want any child to grow up with the fear and hopelessness I had, with respect to money. And they don’t have to! It doesn’t take a lot of money to teach kids the concepts and value of it. It takes time, thought and strategy. If we can teach kids the value of money; concepts of smart spending, saving & investing and, most importantly, resources for finding answers on their own, we can turn the next generation into self-sufficient and financially independent, happy adults who never have to live paycheck to paycheck.
MONEY IMPACTS EVERYTHING
Leslie: Why do you think it is important for kids and young people to learn about personal finance (and/or economics)?
Bobbi: Money impacts everything in our lives. The quality of our lives are highly impacted by the financial decisions we make. The sooner we begin thinking about and understanding the consequences of our financial decisions, good and bad, the sooner we can begin creating our best life. Time is a double-edged sword – youth have time on their side, but they believe there will always be more time. If we can help them understand that time is a tool – one that can benefit them today as well as tomorrow – we can help them live a more comfortable and fulfilled life!
“The sooner we begin thinking about and understanding the consequences of our financial decisions, good and bad, the sooner we can begin creating our best life. “
Leslie: Do you believe personal finance should or should not be taught in schools? Why do you believe there is not more personal finance being taught in schools? Please explain why or why not.
Bobbi: I believe personal finance should be taught in schools. It is mind boggling that we teach our kids math, but not personal finance, have college planning and career days, to no end and teach our kids to work, but not how to handle the money they make! Kids are capable of more and I want to see them do more than struggle to survive. I want them to thrive, have choices and, most of all, become independent.
MORE FROM BOBBI
Student debt: I am not 100% against student debt, but I believe in having a plan and executing it with thought and intention. Student debt is not a must for everyone, and our kids could start their adult lives on much better footing if it wasn’t used as the easy way out, or path of least resistance. Instead, parents and kids should work together to create a plan and gather resources & knowledge, to reduce the amount of debt necessary and assure it can be paid back without devastating consequences.
Credit cards: I see credit cards as a tool that, when used properly can be beneficial, but when used poorly can be detrimental. Kids need to be taught to respect credit cards as a tool, instead of a means of instant gratification. Knowledge about the long-term consequences of debt, as well as available alternatives (like saving) could go a long way toward saving kids from devastating debt.
Financial pet peeves: The idea of using automation to take control of your money. If you don’t have a handle on your finances, especially income versus expenses, things like auto bill pay could seriously backfire.
Favorite personal finance book: “You Need a Budget” by Jesse Mecham. The lesson that stands out is the very simple idea that had never occurred to me but changed my life: turn irregular (non-monthly) expenses into monthly bills. In other words, save monthly for your quarterly oil change or annual car registration. Talk about stress relieving!
Favorite financial quote: “The caliber of your future will be determined by the choices you make today.” – Anthony O’Neal, Author of “Debt Free Degree”
Favorite personal finance resources: YNAB, Undebt.it
Financial heroes: Ellie Kay, Dave Ramsey, Jesse Mecham, Suze Orman, Emily Guy Birken
LEARN MORE ABOUT BOBBI
To discover more about Bobbi Olson go to https://centsablechat.com/.