Paul Curley: Lessons from Grandma Lead to Championing Savings Programs
by Team Sammy
INTRODUCING PAUL CURLEY
Team Sammy is pleased to share Director of Savings Research, Paul Curley's childhood money memories and insights on kids, money and financial literacy education.
Paul Curley, CFA, is an industry expert on 529 plans and ABLE accounts. He currently serves as Director of College Savings Research for ISS Market Intelligence. He authors business intelligence publications on the college financial planning and ABLE market and presents educational seminars and conferences. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the 529 Dash e-newsletter and the 529 Insiders website for financial advisers, institutions and the media. Paul earned a MBA from Boston College, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from Emory University.
GRANDMOTHER SHAPES EARLY MONEY LESSONS
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.
Paul Curley: My grandmother owned and managed a 10-room hotel in Misquamicut, Rhode Island, named the Sea Shell Motel. When I was young, I would invest my time learning from and helping the family run the business. I enjoyed the time with family, the ability to learn financial planning, and living about 100 yards from the beach.
THE ONE MONEY HABIT YOU WOULD TEACH CHILDREN
Leslie: This a question we ask everyone. It is the question Sam 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.
Curley: Save and save efficiently. It is important to spend less than we earn, and save the rest efficiently for important long-term goals such as college and education.
GRANDMA STILL KNOW MONEY BEST
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.
Curley: My grandmother was born during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and I learned the importance of financial literacy, financial planning, and saving. I continue to learn with her through phone calls every Friday.
EARNING AND SAVING MONEY ARE FUN TO DO
Leslie: What memories do you have related to your first saving experience?
Curley: My family would sometimes give me money for helping them at the hotel. After saving for three weeks, I bought a piggy bank at a toy store down the road so that I had a place to put my saved money.
SAVING FOR COLLEGE
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?
Curley: My first job was for $4 per hour at the General Cinema movie theater, which was minimum wage that time. I was 14 years old, and I was a ticket taker. I saved the money to pay for college, and I learned the importance of working hard and saving over time for important goals.
A BIG MISTAKE
Leslie: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?
Curley: I wish I automatically saved at least 10% of my income from every paycheck starting from 14 years old, as that would have accelerated my asset accumulation.
A GREAT CHOICE
Leslie: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager and why?
Curley: Automatically saving a certain percentage of your income can help long-term growth over time.
KEEPING STUDENT LOANS MINIMAL
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.
Curley: I worked while in college, including one semester where I worked three jobs in one semester. It taught me important lessons, helped me to get a job upon graduation and decreased my level of student loans upon graduating from undergrad. I worked full-time while getting my Evening MBA. That provided me the cash flow to graduate without student loan debt. The feeling was incredible at graduation.
START SAVING 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?
Curley: As soon and early as possible, make saving a habit!
TALKING MONEY WITH KIDS AT THE DINNER TABLE
Leslie: You understand the importance of teaching your kids good money habits. Can you share a story about how they learn, or what they remember most?
Curley: At dinner one night with my family, I mentioned that the 31st was pay day. My daughter corrected me by saying that it was Save Day, and not Pay Day. I was so proud of her learning the important lesson to save and save efficiently.
THE SOONER YOU START THE BIGGER THE BENEFITS
Leslie: Why do you think it is important for kids and young people to learn about personal finance (and/or economics)?
Curley: The earlier one learns about personal finance, the earlier they learn and implement positive money habits. Those habits start young and last a life time. An early education in financial literacy pays dividends over one’s entire life.
SCHOOLS SHOULD TEACH PERSONAL FINANCE
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.
Curley: Yes, I believe personal finance should be taught in every school to ensure everyone understands the important lessons.
FAVORITE READS ON MONEY
Leslie: What are one or two of your favorite books on personal finance?
Curley: Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and Debt-Free Degree
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