Robert Puharich, Educator
We are pleased to have Robert Puharich share with us some of his “first” money memories and responses to a few of our questions on kids and money. Welcome Robert!
About Robert – In His Own Words
I am currently an educator and coach with a passion for helping people.
I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and the feeling of helping just
doesn’t get old.
I have years of E-comm experience and marketing online. I have recently
taken on the role of Associate Producer for the Specified Growth Podcast.
I’m also a sports fanatic! I have always loved playing and following sports.
I have two young children, ages 2 and 3, that don’t like to sleep much,
which means I don’t sleep much either. As they take up most of my day, I
have been writing as a hobby of late and have been working on a blog for
teenage young adults and students at www.teenlearner.com.
I see a need for financial education, as the cost of living skyrockets and inflation continues to rise. So, I have taken it upon myself to at least try to contribute to the solution.
I’m so happy to have come across your work Sammy, it encourages me to keep going!
A Tight Knit Community
Team Sammy: Tell us about what it was like growing up – your family and
Robert Puharich, Educator: I grew up in a tight-knit community and have had the same core group of friends for most of my life.
We played soccer together, went out, rode bikes, traveled, and did all the fun stuff. It was nice.
Recently, as the cost of living increased so quickly, my community has slowly spread out.
I grew up in a community of detached homes, so playing at people’s
houses was what we did for fun, both inside and out. I hope that
families will have those same experiences in modern times.
I Wanted Them So Bad
Team Sammy: What was one of your first money memories?
Robert Puharich, Educator: My first money experience was when I was little and McDonald’s was selling collector hockey cards. I wanted them so bad, but didn’t have money.
I had to beg my mother to buy them for me. She would eventually cave in and give me the exact amount of money I needed. I would run as fast as I could to go buy them, excited all the way. I never forgot the experience of learning how to exchange money for something I wanted, and the effort it took me to get the money. That was before work!
Dad Was So Proud
Team Sammy: What was your first saving experience or memory?
Robert Puharich, Educator: My first saving memory was wanting to buy rollerblades. I was still in elementary school and knew I wanted new blades to play hockey with, as they were gaining popularity.
Every time somebody gave me money I would save it. Sometimes I would get money for lunch and I wouldn’t eat, I’d save it. If dad gave me money for the arcade, I wouldn’t play I’d just watch. I really wanted the rollerblades.
One day we were on a family trip to California and ended up at a market.
Somebody was selling bearings for roller blades that make the wheels go
faster. I thought that was pretty cool and wanted some for the blades I
didn’t have yet. I asked my dad and he said they were expensive for what
they were. At that moment I pulled out some of the money I had saved to
My dad couldn’t believe it. He was so proud that I had saved up my money and that memory will live with me forever.
Little Coins Land Right in the Piggy Bank
Team Sammy: Are you using a piggy bank, savings jar, envelopes or another mechanism with your children to teach them about saving? Please share a little about how it going.
Robert Puharich, Educator: I had two piggy banks! One bright yellow piggy (actual piggy) that I put all my pennies in. It’s still full with those same pennies, I never cashed them out, and I still have it. I also had a soccer ball bank where I put the rest of the coins. When I got enough money to buy something I would take the money out and spend it.
A Great Idea
Team Sammy: Was your first formal savings account at a bank, credit union or another type enterprise?
Robert Puharich, Educator: My first savings account was a Royal Bank Leo account for kids. All my birthday gifts went into that savings account for my future. It was a great idea to have that account, and a better idea to save for my future education. My parents set that up for me and it introduced me to formal banking.
First Jobs Pay Off
Team Sammy: What was your first job (formal or informal)? How much did you earn and what you did with the money?
Robert Puharich, Educator: My first job was working at a department store (Zellers). I earned $7 an hour and worked many hours after school and on weekends.
Soon after I got that job (I was 16) I lucked out and got another job at the public library. I got that through a girl in my science class, just by being a
good classmate. I learned the power of networking early. I got paid $15
there and it was very stress-free and accommodated students.
I worked both jobs for a long time and eventually got a promotion at the library, then left Zellers. I held that job for 10 years, and it helped pay for
my first car, university, and then for my down payment on my first good
investment, a pre-sale condo.
A Memorable McDonald’s Money
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had a value?
Robert Puharich, Educator: I realized money had a value in the moments at McDonalds with the hockey cards. But I never really took it seriously until my late 20’s. That’s why I want to educate students while they’re young, not learn hard lessons like I did.
Work Hard, Work Lots
Team Sammy: Did your parents talk to you and/or teach you about money personal finance growing up? What do you remember? What, if anything stuck?
Robert Puharich, Educator: I come from an immigrant family, so our sense of finances was very immigrant-like: work hard, work lots, save your money.
Restaurants happened maybe a couple of times per year, and spending was very controlled. We were taught not to spend on unnecessary things. There wasn’t really talk about investing other than buying a home and saving for retirement. No real strategy, just save.
Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be
Team Sammy: What was one mistake and one smart money choice you made as a kid or teen?
Robert Puharich, Educator: As a kid and teen, a bad choice was lending money out. As most of us have learned, you rarely get it back. I was a nice kid though, easily convinced that it would help somebody.
A smart choice was not eating out much. If I had money for food, I would
often save at least part of it. When I started working, I still didn’t
eat out much even though I could. Eating at home was free for me, I
found it to be a great deal. It saved me money and my health.
One Money Habit
Team Sammy: One question I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Robert Puharich, Educator: I would teach them how to earn. I strongly believe that hard work goes a long way, and the earlier they learn the better. If a child understands the effort it takes to earn a dollar, it will be easier to teach them how to save a dollar.
Team Sammy: Should financial literacy be taught in schools?
Robert Puharich, Educator: Absolutely. It’s more important than many subjects in my opinion.
I started my project because I see that students don’t know many of the
basics of finance. Many of them are being taught, but I think more
information is better.
Some of the choices they make early in their adult life will affect their future more than a lot of the lessons they learned in various subject areas. Credit card debt for example can be life-changing.
As Young As Possible
Team Sammy: At what age should parents start to teach their kids about money?
Robert Puharich, Educator: As young as possible. My 3-year-old gets a chocolate dollar (in Canada we have loonies) for positive things he does. He’s already been exposed to it. He now knows that when we go to the grocery store we put in a dollar to borrow the cart. He can relate the two and the conversation about money has started.
Final Financial Nuggets
Team Sammy: What is more important: how much you make; how you manage what you make; or some other factor?
Robert Puharich, Educator: How you manage your money. Some of the richest people go broke. It’s not hard to figure out how.
Team Sammy: Any thoughts on student loan debt and credit cards?
Robert Puharich, Educator: Regarding student debt: Avoid it if possible. If using it, benefit from free or cheap interest then work hard to eliminate it. Pick your area of study wisely, perhaps your most important adult decision to date.
Regarding credit cards, they are great tools when used effectively. The key is to learn how to use them and not forget that.
Team Sammy: Do you have any financial pet peeves?
Robert Puharich, Educator: Paying interest of any kind. I hate it. Drive’s me nuts when I hear people take loans for unnecessary consumer goods (such as a better TV).
Team Sammy: Do you have a favorite quote, favorite personal finance book and/or any financial heroes?
Robert Puharich, Educator: The quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison
The book: “The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton. One lesson that stands out: “You can’t have everything you want.” Understanding needs and wants are important.
Financial heroes: I don’t really have one. I think the image that Warren Buffet puts out is great. No flash in his brand.
Team Sammy: Any favorite magazines, websites, resources on personal finance?
Robert Puharich, Educator: I had the opportunity to interview Erika Kullberg for my website recently. She’s been putting up some really fun YouTube videos that are informative for our youth so I’ve been following her. The Mr. Money Mustache blog has also been a great resource for me.
Team Sammy: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Robert Puharich, Educator: As parents, we really need to start the conversations around money with our children. Involve our children in operations. Let them see the process of paying bills, budgeting, taxes. I believe the time to learn about money is more important in 2022 than ever, and there are so many resources out there. We need to introduce them to these concepts and resources. Allow them to see a mortgage or rent payment, phone bill, or grocery bill. If they’re not interested, let’s try to get them interested. Cut off their cell phone plan and see how fast they become interested. Everybody can make a difference!
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