Rachael Bronstein AFC ®, Mom and Founder Life's Jam
by Team Sammy
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®, Mom and Founder Life's Jam
We are pleased to have Rachael Bronstein AFC ® and founder of Life's Jam share with us her childhood money memories and insights on kids and money.
Welcome and thank you Rachael!
Team Sammy: Please share with us a little about yourself and your family so readers get a sense of who you are.
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: I grew up outside of Boston but now live in Miami with my husband and 3 kids. After losing my parents too young, I am now the guardian for my special needs sister. My kids are 18, 16, and 12 and everyone in our family (except me) is a rower.
I have spent my professional life creating and supporting small business finance and operations. However, it was in the last couple of years I decided to take this knowledge over to the personal finance side and become an Accredited Financial Counselor/Finance Coach.
In my free time, in addition to spending time with the family, I love going to live music events and festivals.
Team Sammy: Tell us about what it was like growing up – your family and community?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: Growing up was hard but stable due to my mom being an amazing superstar who somehow took care of my sick dad for 10 years while raising me and my sister. She also decided to re-invent herself and go from teaching to becoming an independent financial planner.
Team Sammy: What was one of your first money memories?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: I remember my mom taking us to Middlesex Savings Bank to open a savings account for the first time. The bank was in the center of town, and it was so fun to walk into the big bank and come out with our own booklet showing our first deposit.
Team Sammy: Did you save in a piggy bank, savings jar, use envelopes or another mechanism?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: We had a big clear glass jug that sat on the floor of the bedroom, and we put our change in there. My mom said that when it filled up, we would take a family trip. Since she worked for herself and was a single parent after my dad passed, luxuries like a family trip were not really in the budget. We loved filling that jug and then when it started to get full, we would put the money in coin wrappers and take a trip to the bank.
Team Sammy: Share a little about it with us. What about your children?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: For my kids, I opened a checking and savings account and part of all money earned or gifted is put straight into the savings account.
Team Sammy: What was your first job (formal or informal)? How much did you earn and what you did with the money?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: I worked as a mother’s helper when I was 10 for my mom’s friend Debbie. She had 4 kids and loved having the extra hand. I couldn’t wait to earn money. I loved having the spending money and it empowered me to make financial choices at a young age.
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?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: My mom was an incredible role model, in life and in finances. Since she was in the profession and experienced lot of hardships and successes, finances were talked about quite often. The biggest takeaway for me was the difference between a want and a need. You don’t always realize that when you are a child or teen.
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had a value?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: We used to joke that there was a money fund that would just replenish the accounts when we needed it, however, there most definitely was not. While I realized that money had a value at a young age, I didn’t truly appreciate it until I was out on my own. I moved to NYC after college and my mom helped me out at first. I was so excited for the day that I didn’t need her help (financially) anymore.
Team Sammy: Did you work as a teen and/or in college?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: I had my real first job at 14. I worked at the takeout counter at the local diner called Normans. I then got a job at the front desk of the Sheraton Hotel and in college did lots of fun daily jobs when my school schedule allowed. There was a bulletin board back then where the jobs would be posted.
Team Sammy: What piqued your interest in personal finance?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: I thought I wanted to study marketing in college, but then I started to do well in my finance classes. I thought about going into business with my mom after college, but there was something holding me back. I pursued my passion at the time and got my first job in Production Finance at NBC. I always had an appreciation for the people that put on a show. There was always something I loved about personal finance though, so all these years later, I am combining my love for media/music and my finance knowledge and providing financial coaching to touring music professionals.
Team Sammy: One question I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Rachael Bronstein AFC ®: Not sure I can pick just one. I wish I could shout from the rooftops to save when you are young. Not only does this teach young children and teens about the power of growing money over the years, but it also teaches a habit that will stay with them for the long run.
Team Sammy: If you have any thoughts on the following, feel free to share your thinking:
Q. Should personal finance be taught in schools?
A. Most definitely! I know it’s a required class in some states but not in all. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is to talk about money and let kids experience it, make mistakes with it, and be empowered by it when they are young and living under our care. That’s the best time for them to practice.
Q. What is more important: how much you make; how you manage what you make; or some other factor?
A. I help lots of people right now that are living paycheck to paycheck and people who do very well financially. While sometimes you may need to increase your income to live more comfortably, a lot of times, it’s managing the spending side of things that has significant impact.
Q. Credit cards?
A. You may love them or hate them, but there is a lot to learn from them when you are young. It’s kind of like that first job. A company wants to hire someone with experience, but no one wants to give you the experience. Same goes for credit. You need to build your credit file, and before anyone may be willing to give you credit, you must develop some history on your own. Opening that first credit card or becoming an authorized user on your parent’s card if they have good credit is a good first step. Just make sure to pay your bills on time and in full and don’t open too many cards. Honestly, one is all you need at the beginning and keep that card open for the long run (because that will play into your credit score.)
Q. Favorite book on personal finance or money management. Does one lesson stand out - what is it?
A. My new favorite for teens and young adults is How To Money by Jean Chatzky and Kathryn Tuggle. While I may be a little impartial because I am a financial coach for Jean’s eLearning programs, this book hits all the key points in a fun, creative, and engaging way for young adults. There are key takeaways at the end of each chapter with each step laid out. It was my go-to high school graduation gift this spring.
Q. Favorite quote on money?
A. Life is the target, Money is the tool.
Discover more about Rachael Bronstein AFC ® and mom. Visit her website: www.lifesjam.com
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