Sammy’s Money Memories: Insights on kids, money, and financial literacy education

Teaching kids about money is a critical life skill. I'm proud to be a sponsor of Sammy Rabbit’s 1st National Dream Big Read Financial Education Initiative  to provide financial literacy resources to children. Here's my interview with Sam X. Renick, co-creator of Sammy Rabbit. This was originally published by  on 

Access the Get Ready Toolkit to download Sammy's Big Dream Story Set and Program


Sammy Rabbit’s 1st National Dream Big Read Financial Education Initiative is pleased to present Tony Steuer’s insights on kids, money, and financial literacy education.

About Tony Steuer

Tony Steuer is an author, advocate for Financial Preparedness, a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), a California State University Chico Wildcat, a Golden State Warriors fan, and a “Deadhead!”

Tony’s mantra, title of his latest book and new podcast: “Get Ready!”

Oh yes – the husband, father, and personal finance readiness champion enjoys the Grateful Dead!

But, what Tony loves most is to help people make sense of the financial world in a way that’s easy for them to understand. His book and workbook titled Questions and Answers on Life Insurance both received the Excellence in Financial Literacy Education award from the Institute on Financial Literacy.

The Alameda, California resident is also active within the community, supporting causes close to his heart like education and helping to improve the quality of life for children, teens and families affected by diabetes.


Sam X Renick: This a question I ask everyone. It is the question I asked myself 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.

Tony Steuer: Always understand a financial product before you proceed. Becoming educated will lead to smart money choices. This is a good rule for any part of our life and especially true for the financial world. You want to make sure that you know how a financial product works and what the terms are before agreeing to it. This will help you make sure you have what best fits your personal situation and minimize your costs.


Renick: What memories do you have related to your first saving experience?

Steuer: My first experience saving money was when I was given birthday gifts and my Dad opened a savings account for me. While, I was eager to spend all of my money at once, eventually the magic of putting money aside for the future made sense.


Renick: 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?

Steuer: One of the first jobs that I remember was working for my high school’s recreation district. It was a lot of fun and it was a mix of whatever was needed to facilitate open gym time and pool time. While the job didn’t pay very much, it did allow me to earn money while being able to enjoy my work – I got to play basketball as part of running open gym. I learned that you can enjoy your work. In terms of what I did with the money is that it mostly went towards food and record albums, though I did have a small savings account.


Renick: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?

Probably not putting enough money aside. I had two part time jobs as a teenager and I only saved a fraction of what I earned. Most of my spending money went towards food and record albums. It would have been nice to have saved more money for while I was going to college.


Renick: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager and why?

Steuer: Deciding to work so that I would have my own money. This allowed me to have freedom to make purchases.


Renick: 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.

Steuer: I had a steady job, three shifts a week while I was in College along with a few odd jobs. Working while I was in college allowed me to have the freedom to pay my living expenses and have some money to hang out with my friends. While I didn’t save money while I was in college, I also didn’t have any debt when I graduated.


Renick: At around what age did you realize “money was money” or that it had a value? Please share the circumstances or how the realization came about.

Steuer: Probably when I was 8-10 years old. I was collecting comic books and instead of having them purchased by my parents or grandparents, I started to buy them out of money received as an allowance or gift.


Renick: 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?

Steuer: While age 7 seems young to me, it is good for parents to start teaching kids about money as early as possible. Young children are much more observant than most people realize. You can talk about how you use money to pay for movie tickets, going to the zoo or going out to dinner. When they ask you for the latest toy, you can mention how you only have so much money and they will have to make a decision on what to spend the money. Of course, at the younger age’s, kids will usually want the immediate choice, however, you will be starting them on the path of understanding budgets.

Having a family financial meeting is a good way to introduce and enhance financial education with children. They can participate and start to understand about financial trade-offs such as paying for housing rather than going to Disneyworld each summer.


Renick: Did your parents talk to and teach you about money as a child? Please share a little about your experience on the topic while growing up.

And, if you have children are you talking to and teaching them about money? Please share a little regarding this.

Steuer: My father did talk to me about money. He talked about how we could afford to do something or what we could not afford to do. He also discussed savings and the basics of investments.


Renick: Why do you think it is important for kids and young people to learn about personal finance (and/or economics)?

Steuer: Money is a part of most facets of our lives; however, most people are not comfortable or know much about making smart financial choices.


Renick: 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.

Steuer: Personal finance should be a mandatory part of the education system. While, reading, writing & arithmetic are of course, essential; so is managing a checking account, overseeing an insurance portfolio and saving for the future.


Renick: What is one of your favorite books on personal finance and/or economics? And, is there one lesson that stands out from the book?Steuer: The elements of investing by Burton Malkiel updated by Charles Ellis). The biggest lesson is the title of Chapter 1: It all starts with savings with the quote “It doesn’t matter whether you make a return of 2 percent, or 5 percent, or even 10 percent on your investments if you have nothing to invest.  Basically, you have to start at the beginning and there are no shortcuts.

Learn more about Financial Literacy for Kids.

Access the Get Ready Toolkit to download Sammy's Big Dream Story Set and Program


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