Patricia Roberts Personal Finance Author Talks Kids and Money with Sammy Rabbit: 14 Sammy Rabbit “Gold Karat” Takeaways
by Team Sammy
We had a Sammyriffic Childhood Money Memory podcast and discussion recently with Patricia Roberts, personal finance author, COO Gift of College, attorney and 529 college saving champion.
Watch the video above or listen to the audio of the interview below!
Plus, also find a little about Patricia and a list of 14 Sammy Rabbit “Gold Karat” takeaways from the podcast!
Patricia is a mom and a life-long learner with a deep appreciation for the many doors higher education can open. She has helped tens of thousands of families prepare for the cost of higher learning through her 20+ years of working with 529 college savings plans and as a personal finance author.
Patricia is currently Chief Operating Officer at Gift of College, Inc., where innovations are created to engage friends, family and employers to help individuals save for college and pay down student loan debt.
Having financed her own undergraduate and law degrees while working multiple jobs and having repaid sizable student loans as a first-generation college goer, she knows first-hand the difference that even a small amount of advanced planning can make in paying for higher education. In her favorite role of all, as a mom, she made it a priority to save a little at a time for her son’s higher education expenses by directing contributions from her paycheck into 529 college savings accounts.
Welcome Patricia Roberts Personal Finance Author!
14 Sammy Rabbit Gold Karat Takeaways from Patricia Roberts!
(1) Patricia grew up in a low income family and "almost" missed the opportunity to go to college. It is one of the reasons she is passionate about championing college savings. She is super happy to be helping other families prepare for higher education so their children do not miss the opportunity!
(2) One of Patricia's favorite childhood money memories involves a collaboration between her and her three siblings. Patricia was the youngest. When there was something that she and her siblings wanted, that fell outside of her family's very tight budget, her mom would encourage all the kids to sit down at the dining room table and discuss how important it was to get that item. And, then she asked the kids to see if they could agree on pursuing it together. As a result, they would then "save together" as a family to reach their saving goal.
Her mom would have them save and fill up a large glass jar with coins and sometimes dollar bills. She would keep that glass jar in a very visible place in the house to keep everyone focused on their saving goal.
Every one would contribute what they could. They would get very excited watching their savings grow. Periodically, they would count and wrap their savings. It was a real blast and a cherished memory!
(3) I shared with Patricia that the "glass jar" seemed almost magical. She agreed and added, "It was a visible reminder of what we were pursuing. We could check on it periodically. We could contribute to it as much as we could from our allowance or other means. It felt very collaborative. It brought the family together."
(4) Patricia still saves change! She keeps a "Big Ben" Clock Bank she keeps near the entrance of her home. Whenever they enter their home and have change in their pockets, they empty that change into their family "Big Ben" Clock savings bank. And when the bank is jam packed with coins they take to the bank and deposit the loot into a savings account.
(5) Patricia is a life-longer learner. Education opens many doors. Growing up in a family very limited means meant Patricia had to think of a variety of ways to earn money for the future and to help her family. Pursuing higher education was one of the best investments in herself that she ever made. As a result of pursuing and achieving higher education, both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree that she did at night while working full-time, those degrees led her to career opportunities that she would have never had, had she not achieved those forms of education.
Eventually her education led to greater earnings, which led to being able to purchase a home not only for herself but for her mother and a sibling who has a development disorder.
Education resulted in greater earnings which empowered Patricia to make a difference in the lives of her family in a "significant" way! That is something she is very proud of having accomplished.
Helping my family was one of the most important goals I ever had and something she thought of ever since she was a child.
My mom taught us to have faith. Her faith was unshakeable. As a single mom she led the family through tough times. She taught us to combine that faith with action. Pursuing education, working hard at it, represented the action part of mom's message.
Education "lifted" our family up to a level of living that we may not have been able to accomplish otherwise.
(6) Patricia's son Ben wrote the foreword to her book, "Route 529: A Parent's Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans."
Ben writes, “From an early age, I learned that my parents were taking money out of each of their paychecks to save for college. The way they approached saving for me with small, consistent steps over many years helped me to learn about the value of breaking big goals into smaller, more manageable steps. I also learned how cutting back on things we really didn’t need or avoiding expenses that were unnecessary could make a big difference. Spending less helped us save more.
(7) Patricia comments, "we often stopped and thought for a moment before we spent money on things that didn't seem absolutely essential...We thought hard about ways where we could refrain from doing stuff and ways where we could reconsider the fixed expenses we had as a family..."
When Ben was in middle school, the family set down and put their heads together to see if there were ways to spend smarter. During one of those conversations, Ben had the good idea to cut back on what they were spending on cable TV because they were actually not watching that much of it.
The family figured out that what they spent strongly correlates to what they can save!
(8) Consistent with information shared in the book, "The Millionaire Next Door," the Roberts have owned and driven the same car since their son was an infant. We didn't need another car. Knock wood - this car is still running 20 some years later. Whoaaaaaaaaa!
We just decided we didn't something else to pay for! We prioritized what was important and avoided expenses that just did not seem necessary!
(9) Patricia shares parents play a critical role in the education of their children on some many issues and in particular around the issue of money.
She feels children learn from what they see!
How parents conduct themselves with respect to financial matters really affects children in the long run.
Parents have a great opportunity to show their children fiscal responsibility by walking the talk! It is more about what you do than what you say as a parent.
(10) "I think the seeds for financial wellness are planted at home!"
(11) Patricia and her husband let their son Ben know very early that they were preparing and saving for his post secondary college education. They wanted to make sure Ben did not leave college burdened by debt similar to each of them. She explained the challenge it was repaying over one hundred thousand dollars of debt over 20 years.
Patricia feels it was really important to have open and ongoing conversations with her son about college. She encourages families to start college conversation early to avoid debt and regret! We agree!!!
(12) Absolutely financial education should be offered in schools. And, that information should be shared with parents! It will help parents refresh their memory on personal finance or maybe they will even learn something new about the subject.
(13) The one money habit Patricia would teach kids is that a lot of what they will be able to save has to do with what they spend. The less they spend, the more they will be able to save. She wants kids to know saving can lead to better and brighter outcomes and peace of mind! It can be life changing as it was for her.
(14) Patricia advises parents to encourage family and friends to make contributions to saving, college saving accounts when it comes to gift giving as opposed to toys and the like.
Discover more about Patricia at her website: Route529.com
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