Tips From a Kids Money Expert
Sam X Renick is a financial educator and well-known kids money expert. An advocate for financial literacy, Sam is a leader in the field and a large contributor to educating our youth. Sam’s website can be found at SammyRabbit.com where there is content for anybody looking to learn about money.
Financial literacy is an area that I know needs so much development, which ultimately led to the founding of TeenLearner. I am extremely grateful that Sam took the time to be part of our project, and to be able to get his word out to our audience.
Thank you Sam for joining us.
What is the goal of Sammy Rabbit?
We make it easy and fun for anyone to teach and talk to kids about money, beginning with kids as young as age 3. We place special emphasis on habit formation and inspiring kids to dream big and do big, one step at a time! We want kids to be better equipped to achieve their dreams and goals as well as build the future they desire.
What is your role in this project?
I am one of the founders and creators of Sammy Rabbit. As a micro-enterprise I have lots of roles from lead content creator, educator, marketer, etc.
How did you get so interested in financial literacy?
I was about 40 years old when I decided to give this venture a go. What I primarily brought to the endeavor was:
• 12 years of experience in large corporate America
• 10 years of experience as an independent contractor in the financial services sector
• a truckload of desire and passion for wanting to help kids learn the basics of personal finance and start establishing the money habits that would them create the futures they want for themselves.
I grew up in a low-income household. It is easy to see now, I was fortunate to have parents who directed and encouraged me to develop a strong work-habit and make thoughtful choices with the money I made. They taught and promoted both as a strategy for getting the things I wanted and needed.
Years later while in financial services, I discovered many adults, from different backgrounds and circumstances, regret not learning more about money management basics early in life.
Largely due to the guidance and training I received from my parents, I began habitually and automatically saving and investing a portion of everything I earned from my very first paycheck.
Where did you start your career and how did you transition to starting a financial business?
I started my career in Aerospace with a fortune 100 company. I was on the business side of the operation. I did well for a non-engineer. It was a wonderful place to learn how to work and how to think critically. It was an environment that fostered professional and personal growth.
From there, I spent a couple of years at a smaller, yet still sizable corporation, in Aerospace. It too was an excellent experience offering lots of challenges and opportunities.
After that I got adventurous. I did a 180 and left Aerospace. I started to consult independently and simultaneously entered the financial services profession. I contracted with a small firm of independent salespeople.
We primarily offered mutual funds, insurance, and lots of encouragement to people to establish systematic saving and investment plans. It was during this period I was able to talk with people about their money choices. It was like a research project.
I discovered a surprisingly large number of people across every socio-economic spectrum do not regularly save or invest a portion of their earnings. It hammered home the concept that there is a significant distinction between earning and managing money. This revelation helped me discover my life’s purpose which is to make it easy for anyone to talk and teach kids about basic money management principles.
Do you have any stories you can share about your career or life that came up along your journey?
I have been talking about money habits and choices for more than 20 years with kids, teens, adults, young and more seasoned. So, yes, I have funny, scary, and exciting stories.
I’ll share two. I found both to be exciting and inspiring.
I just conducted a follow-up session to a series of 8 financial education classes with 3rd through 5th graders. The kids all lived in low-income neighborhoods. I wanted to find out if the students were applying the personal finance concepts we taught them. I was especially interested to know if they had made a habit of saving some of their money. I was ecstatic when many said they had, and one student advised he had saved more than one thousand dollars. Amazing!
The other story came from the mother of a second grader who participated in an 8-week Sammy Rabbit Dream Big Money Club after-school program. We interviewed her one year after the program had concluded. We asked if she had seen any changes with her daughter. She shared, not only was her daughter making better money choices, but she was talking to her younger brother all the time about saving his money. It was very gratifying to discover.
One of our premises when we started was if you could get kids excited about saving money, it will have a ripple effect throughout the entire family.
Where do you see opportunities arising for somebody young looking to get a head start on their future?
I think the big opportunities going forward are in educating people on how to take advantage of technology, especially artificial intelligence tools to create better lives for themselves, kids, families, and communities.
Do you have any personal finance principles that you follow or that guide your decisions?
Pay yourself first in combination with spending less money than you earn and receive. We have translated this principle for kids into “Saving is a great habit,” “Get in the habit of saving some of your money,” and “Don’t spend more than you make!”
Second, figure out what you “really” want and go out and earn it.
If anyone, including kids, executes these principles habitually, they are headed in the right direction. They are going to systematically advance their financial security, stability, freedom, independence, wealth, and wellness.
If you could go back to being a teenager, what would change about your decision-making knowing what you do now?
What is one thing every teenager should start or do today to begin a successful financial future?
I cannot repeat this enough, pay yourself first. Making saving and investing habits. Do it automatically. Do it every time you earn or receive money.
Do you have any advice you would like to pass on to any teenager reading this?
Being a teenager is not easy, but it does not last long. Do everything in your power to give your best daily. Invest energy and effort into improving just a little each day. Consistent daily improvements, even tiny ones, compound rapidly. Making this philosophy a part of your “being” during your teen years will establish a foundation for sustained success throughout your life.
As a part of giving your best, put into writing your own personal money and living philosophy. The money portion should minimally address your thinking on how you will save, invest, spend, and give money to others. Then commit to executing that philosophy through good and challenging times. Update it as you learn more and as necessary.
You are going to be in a relationship with money for the rest of your life. It is a question of who is going to be in control of your time and energy. Having a philosophy and a plan for your money will give teens a much better chance of creating the lives they want to lead.
As we wrap this up, do you have any advice for our readers?
We welcome everyone to check out SammyRabbit.com. We encourage them to recommend it to kids, families, schools, loved ones, anyone, and everyone they want to help set up for a lifetime of success!
You can find Sam with the following links:
By: Robert Puharich | April 26, 2023 |