Thursday, February 3, 2011

Words That Last – Save, Spend, Share
~ Mary Karges, CEO of Moonjar and PEPS parent
Stop, Look and Listen - we can all read those words and remember immediately that those were the cues offered to us from a very young age to bring us safely across the street. Before too long those words just became the actions that we automatically follow, several times a day!
Save, Spend, Share
What words do we have to direct our children to safe financial habits? At Moonjar, we believe the financial counterpart of Stop, Look and Listen is SAVE, SPEND and SHARE. Finding ways to talk to kids about money can be tricky so we are dedicated to creating tools in the form of banks, books, games and curriculum that help families open the conversation about money and keep it growing as the children do.
Children as young as three years old are ready to make simple choices around money. Our moneyboxes are three-part teaching banks that invite the youngest children to decide where to put the money based on color. The bank is divided into Save (red) Spend (green) and Share (blue). As children grow, so does their financial capability and responsibility. When a 6 or 7 year old gets a Moonjar it is all about putting pictures on the outside of the box, creating visual goals. I recently saw a second grader with a Moonjar saving for a rocket and spending on a calculator while sharing with space exploration. This was a very individualized statement and one quite different from my son’s where he is saving for games and spending on candy! This opportunity for individuality is the key in money conversations because we all have different goals and those goals need to be acknowledged.
Financial capability and literacy are making great strides these days. We are seeing more and more high schools offering classes and requiring some financial awareness for graduation. Early studies, however, suggest high school is not soon enough. We need to start teaching that money is about choices from a very young age.
We have found the SHARE box to be a very popular piece of a child’s development. Just before the holidays I was with some third graders who were targeting a micro-lending group in South America. The children understood so clearly the basic needs of others and thanks to Google Earth they saw exactly where their help would be going. The season for sharing is always! The Share box is as much an important piece of the whole as the Save or the Spend and deserves a great deal of thought and care. If the goal is to start a conversation, starting with the SHARE box is a great place. Our Conversations to Go game has some great questions to get the family chatting about what really matters to each person and from that the child can begin to decide where she would like to share. A couple questions to get going; “ When have you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of accomplishment?” and “Name the most important job in the world. What is it worth?"
As parents our task is to create an environment where a conversation about money can be as common as the conversation about crossing the street. When offering simple solutions to complex ideas that can last a lifetime, our children are empowered and teaching money capability starting from preschool will offer our children the financial smarts to make positive choices.
About the Author
Mary is currently the CEO of Moonjar where she gets to combine her passion for communication with her passion for children and parenting. Mary is the mother of three: two high-schoolers and a sixth grader. She participated in PEPS with her oldest and loved it. Mary incorporated the concept of Moonjar into her own family live. Her oldest was saving since she was 8 to get a red car …now at 16 she is rolling that savings into money for college! Her sharing of time and money is going to the 4NOLA and Shirts Across America group that helps to rebuild New Orleans Africa and the Richard’s Rwanda project. Her 15 year old is sharing his time, energy and money with Africa and the Richard’s Rwanda project and her 12 year old uses his share money to help me buy food for the events we help with at the Recovery Café.
About Moonjar
At Moonjar we spend the days reaching out to companies, organizations, families, teachers and community leaders who want to create change. Our mission is to help kids build dreams by learning to save, spend and share. When Eulalie Scandiuzzi created the Moonjar product and company in 2002 she understood that most children are visual learners. All of our products are visually exciting and offer the space to encourage individuality in order to bring these concepts to life.

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