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Reimagining Financial Literacy - Breaking the Money Silence

by Team Sammy

Kids make savings jar

Kids make savings jars at The Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA

We need to talk to kids about money differently. We need to do it with more purpose and intent. Make no mistake, we are talking to and teaching kids about money – we being parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors. The problem is we are doing it without knowing it and "in code." For example, telling a child, "I can't wait to take you on a trip to Disneyland" is a coded money message. If a family of four lives within driving distance of the park, that is likely at least a $500 conversation. By making a slight tweak to the conversation one can infuse some financial literacy and stay on course to the happiest place on earth: "I can't wait to start planning our trip to Disneyland. We will put a scrap book together, sort of a map on how we will get there and what we will do. Yes! I will make a list of all our activities so we use our time and money wisely. We will want to make the most of our big day and adventure. In fact, I am going to use this jar and start saving money in it today for our trip to the Magic Kingdom."

The current way we talk about money effectively masks that we are talking about it constantly. It's no wonder, we avoid using the word "money" altogether. Perhaps because it bursts the bubble and kills the fantasy. This creates and equates to their largely being a "silence" on purpose-filled personal finance discussion at every level, including the two most important levels: (1) Between parents and young kids (2) Between teachers and students. You are probably right if you are thinking that cannot be good. But, as demonstrated above, adding personal finance language can make for a better money message, make dreams more attainable, and make kids more capable.

In this week's Sammy-CentSai Money Cents for Kids column, I had the privilege and honor to interview wealth psychology expert, author and professor Kathleen Burns Kingsbury. Kathleen shares her memories and insights on money to help all of us break the silence on money and start talking to ourselves, each other and kids more purposefully about finance.

This is an excerpt from the article, "Money Cents for Kids: Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Breaking Money Silence" from

Sam Renick: What is the most important money habit you learned as a child? Briefly share the story behind how you learned the habit and what impact it has had on you throughout your life.

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: The most important money habit I learned as a child was how to regularly save money.

When I was seven years old, my parents took me to the local savings bank and opened a passbook savings account in my name. (It was called a passbook savings account because you got a booklet that looked like a travel passport where they would print your balance and any credits or debits to the account.) Each time I got a cash gift, I would deposit the money into this account.

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Sammy is reimagining financial literacy & education. Learn more about his Dream Big Financial Education Initiatives.

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