Moonjar was established in 2001 with the mission to inspire the incorporation of strong financial values, and bring financial savvy to children and families in their everyday life. Eulalie Scandiuzzi is the founder/owner. As Moonjar’s Chief Creative Officer, she creates the products. Mary Karges, partner, is responsible for sales and marketing. She casts the wide net to all of the different business sectors. Tatum Kerr is Moonjar’s bookkeeper and partner, most noted as the first to smile in the office.
What was the motivation behind starting Moonjar?
We are all worried about money and don’t know how to talk to our children about it. The idea launched sometime after a visit in 2001 to FareStart Seattle, where we listened to those clients speak about their reasons for falling into deep financial holes. [Moonjar founder] Eulalie’s wish was to provide all people with the same vocabulary around money as she and her siblings received from their mother. She wanted to basically debunk the idea that we are all born wired with information on how to handle money. We really wanted to help visual and kinetic learners understand the value of the dollar — saving it, choosing to spend it or with whom to share it and why.
What is the name Moonjar meant to reflect?
Moon: “To shoot for the moon”; to go after dreams and goals. Jar: Following the ancient custom where wishes or dreams are written down and placed in a special jar for future celebration. Shoot for the moon and celebrate it while you go!
At what age should parents begin considering the conversation about money with children, and how can they be most effective?
As soon as they start asking for things! We wanted to be able to create a “yes conversation,” and help our children see that they could be part of the yes — that together we can create a solution and problem-solve together. But if we’re pushed, we’ll suggest a 4- to 5-year-old. As soon as they can count to 10.
Here are some of the top 10 tips we have come up with over the years [find more tips online at parentmap.com/sysk]:
Keep lessons short with a specific goal — kids have short attention spans.
Reward kids early — don’t make the first goal reachable in six months, make it three days.
Set a date to share some of their savings — that can often be as rewarding as spending it themselves.
Sit down and budget your own finances as a family — kids see how much there is to work with, where it all goes and how much things cost.
What are your goals for Moonjar?
We are currently looking for partners/investors who want to hold the leading edge in financial literacy education reform in elementary schools across the nation by providing both public and private elementary schools with Moonjar’s role play/activity-based tools and lesson plans.
Please share a couple of stories of families who have been effectively using Moonjar.
We have a family who visits us often to tell us about the saving, spending and sharing that the two girls are setting goals around. We were so excited last fall when they came and told us Moonjar had inspired the 12-year-old to write and self-publish a book. She told us that she realized it was about making a plan, and although it did not go exactly as she thought, she was able to save enough money to self-publish and dedicate enough time to write a story she is proud of.
What do kids like about the share, spend, save aspects of Moonjar?
Our favorite moments are when we get to talk to kids about the share box. There is a special light in their eyes when they talk sharing. We love to hear kids figure out what matters to them. We had two brothers in the office trying to decide if they had to donate to the same places. We loved to watch the parent give the kids space to make that choice. The conversation started with the question “How is your Moonjar different from your brother’s?” Ultimately, they decided to give the money from each share box to different projects in their school. Kids also love the idea that they can buy the Lego, American Girl doll, Xbox game they’ve longed for because their goal becomes a reality. Google+
It feels like time speeds up in the Fall. I know each hour has the same number of
minutes that it had in July but October, November and December minutes seem to
be made of faster seconds.The budgeting
of those seconds feels just as important as the balancing of the checkbook.
My home life has shifted dramatically in the past year. We
have only one child at home, we are the only family in town for an elderly
parent and we have moved from our home of 25 years into a smaller place. Each
piece of that new story takes a lot of precious time. That time just swirls
around me unless I make a real effort to SAVE, SPEND and SHARE each moment!
My years at Moonjar have seamlessly allowed me to include
those actions, Save Spend and Share as the fabric of who I am and right now that
is helping me with time. The SAVE part is the hardest for me (and I think
traditionally for most women). I am working on saving time and depositing it into
a book I want to read. I too often turn to the book when I am too tired to get
more than a page in.The SPEND part of
this time budget is filled with planning it seems. How do we visit the college
kids or get them home or visit my family or take a breath together just as our
small family. I am trying to keep a log of what I am doing and what I am trying
to do with this Spend time.SHARE is my
favorite part of time budgeting because to me, Share means give my time to
others. I feel like a few of those swirling seconds are returned to me and
slowed down a bit when my Share box is full.
Moonjar is about opening conversations around money with our
children and families but if we can’t budget our time, those conversations are
too rushed and turn into lost opportunity.So in this crazy busy faster than usual season, be kind to yourself and
see if “Moonjaring” your time gives a little instant to breathe.
Here at Moonjar we are blessed with magical moments.A very special family came to visit and
shared a book written by their young entrepreneur called ‘Why Do I Laugh and other poems’ by Grae Paige.The book is filled with inspirational poems written from the heart.
The family has used Moonjar for years.The children have them and they also give them
to all their family members and friends as gifts.
We at Moonjar love hearing stories like this!
The author Ms. Grae Paige, used her savvy sense about money
learned from using Moonjar to self-publish her book.She is now hoping to recoup some of the cost
thru selling it on line and other outlets.It is available on line at lulu.com, on Amazon and at Moonjar.
We are very proud of Grae Paige! Thank you to her and her
family for sharing with us.
This summer we were extremely happy to see our Moonjar Lesson Plan and Moneyboxes as part of CAMP SEED, a S.T.E.M. camp in it's second year in the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington.
The camp is made up of middle school kids and taught primarily by college kids. That alone is a recipe for success! Those college kids bring out the best and see the potential in the young teens. The content of the camp was also wonderful. The program was put together by asking area hospitals and agriculture companies if they could offer some hands on experience to these kids. So they had amazing opportunity in the science and engineering portion of camp to dissect a cow's eye, irrigate a field, test each other for color blindness. And in the Tech and Math portion the kids learned about money management and how to really Save Spend and Share in order to thrive in community. They went to the Junior Achievement village where they are each given a job and a paycheck and then told their responsibilities. It is amazing to hear how many of them gain new respect for their families!!!
The crown jewel on the camp was the Market Day! Each group had created and executed a business plan. They had marketers who made signs and did some tweeting and facebooking; they had the accountants who kept track or all the money in and the money out and they all served roles as the sales people. It was wonderful! And in the end each child went home with about $35.00...not bad!! Please enjoy a few more pics!!
We've slowly started our children's financial education. I thought the easiest way to start would be opening a savings account. I suppose I was correct, but it was met with more resistance than I expected.
When we actually opened a savings account for them, I explained that we would deposit their money into their accounts. Then the bank would pay them interest. First, my son was horrified that they would lend "his" money out to other customers, and would he ever see it again? And then, could he have his original bills back?
That little anecdote made me realize that teaching them about money was going to be more challenging than I thought. See, I had lofty expectations of how we were going to give our children this fantastic financial education. But like any tool, you have to use money to really figure out how it works, what it can do (or not do) for you, and how to use it more efficiently. So our kids will need to have money to learn to manage it. And that's what I forgot: Where's the money going to come from? An allowance history
Since our kids don't get much money as gifts, their source of money either has to come from us or they need to become entrepreneurs. At six and ten years of age, becoming a budding entrepreneur is not impossible, but it's certainly challenging.
As always with parenting, I stretch back to my parents' methods to evaluate their effectiveness -- now that I've had several decades to study the results. To evaluate, I want to know what worked, what didn't, and what I should have learned in the first place.
As a child, I had specific chores that I had to accomplish. I didn't get reimbursed for those, but I did frequently ask my dad for extra chores to earn money.
Those chores were above and beyond and basically involved farming tasks that paid, depending on the job, $5 per hour for one job, $20 each month for another, or a quarter per bucket of corn I found in the field after the combine had made its pass through. (I can already tell these jobs will make a great base for the "When I was your age" stories that I just can't seem to help myself from telling my children.)
And I also became a little entrepreneur, enlisting the help of my parents to learn how to raise and sell rabbits and chickens. I had to pay for my own expenses, do my own chores, and I kept all the profit.
Lastly, when I hit the teenage years, I was given a clothing allowance. I had to (er, was supposed to) buy all my own clothes and could theoretically save any leftover cash. But I never had any leftover cash and actually usually had to borrow from the next month's allowance to make the clothing allowance work.
Other than the clothing allowance, throughout most of my childhood, my parents paid for standard expenses; but if I wanted something different or extra, I paid for it myself. Likewise, I understood very early on that if I wanted to go to college, I would be footing the bill myself. I also knew that I would be able to drive the family car until my next sibling got her driver's license. After that, I would need to find my own wheels. Evaluating history
I don't think I am a personal finance superstar, by any means. I've done some really stupid things, getting myself into some really difficult situations. But I have done some things right, so it makes me wonder if the techniques my parents used were helpful or not.
I liked tying the money I earned to the task that I did. I could clearly see how my effort affected my paycheck. I also liked being in charge of running my own little businesses. Seeing how expenses ate away my profit, in addition to being 100 percent responsible for caring for my animals, was invaluable.
One of the other lessons from my childhood came when I arrived home late after a basketball game. I thought, since it was dark outside, my father would have completed my chore for the night (the one where I earned $20 per month).
"No, I didn't," he replied.
"What?! But Dad, it's dark outside!" I whined and threw a tantrum.
He didn't lose his cool at all. "It's your job and your responsibility. And I am paying you to complete this job."
I think I cried the whole time I finished my job, but it's obviously something I've never forgotten.
The least effective method was my clothing allowance. Number one, I felt like I never learned to be a smart shopper and make my money last. But the problem is that I didn't have to be a smart shopper. If I didn't have enough money, I begged money from my parents -- and sometimes I got it. Maybe it wasn't enough money, or maybe it didn't really add any value beyond what I received from the other methods of money management I learned. Sources of money for our kids
Because of my own experiences, I am not sold on just giving them an allowance without tying it to a specific chore. Some people -- a lot of people actually -- believe an allowance should be used to teach kids how to manage money without tying it to a specific chore.
And I get that. One disadvantage of tying money to chores is that the child could potentially only do chores they are paid for. Living in a household has its advantages, and there are some things that everyone should do without expecting reimbursement. "Raising Financially Fit Kids" by Mary Hunt offers an interesting approach. When she and her husband were raising their sons, they made them "money managers." Once the boys reached a certain age, they were given a certain amount of money per month. This was money their parents would have given them anyway, but the boys were expected to manage it. Mary Hunt and her husband allowed their sons to make mistakes and, by the time they graduated from high school, they were managing several hundred dollars per month.
My short review does not do this book and concept justice, so read the book if this sounds interesting to you. We're still tossing around ideas on how to give our children some money to manage. Which techniques worked for you or your children?