At CentSai, we believe financial education is important for everyone — especially kids and families. Talking to kids about money when they’re young can be a challenge for parents, teachers, and community leaders. But according to research, that is the most important time to do it. Why? Because that is when money habits and attitudes are being determined. Those habits and attitudes can last a lifetime. They can make or break dreams and lives.
To help us — and you — we found two experts who have been teaching kids about money with easy, effective strategies for almost 20 years. Meet Sammy Rabbit and the driving force behind him, Sam X Renick.
Renick is one of the finest, most innovative minds when it comes to financial education in the United States.
Sammy Rabbit is his creation and the vehicle by which he delivers simple yet profound messages like “Saving is a great habit,” “Dream big, do big — one step at a time,” and “From every dollar, save a dime,” among others. Renick and Sammy’s programs have earned them accolades and awards — such as the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education’s Muriel Siebert Lifetime Achievement Award — from coast to coast.
I first met Renick on LinkedIn after we had each commented on a financial literacy article. We immediately got on the phone with each other.
Renick’s passion for financial literacy is contagious. That, combined with my interest in financial education and desire to start teaching my son, Chance, about money prompted us to dive down the rabbit hole together. To start, I read Chance a Sammy story and played some of Sammy’s music for him. Chance immediately loved the rabbit. Likability is one of the character’s strengths. Chance picked up on Sammy’s core message, “Saving is a great habit.” That led to more discussions and lessons about money almost everywhere we were, even the grocery store. Those talks motivated me as well.
I spoke with Chance’s kindergarten teacher and volunteered to read a Sammy story at school. It was easy! (Renick taught me how to wrangle twenty 5-year-olds.)
It was also really gratifying. When I finished reading, all the kids wanted to tell me about their piggy banks, and those who didn’t have one told me what they wanted theirs to look like.
A few months passed, and Chance and I kept talking about money. Then something really cool happened.
It was a Saturday morning. Chance was taking a shower, and I heard screams. They weren’t screams of pain — something else was happening. I went to the bathroom to see what was going on. To my surprise, as I opened the door, I heard Chance belting out an AC/DC rock version of one Sammy’s signature songs, “S-A-V-E.”
Wow! I was grinning from ear to ear. It was official — not only had I exposed my son to good music at a young age, but he was also thinking about saving money.
Patting myself on the back, I felt as if I had the whole parenting thing figured out. Then Chance got soap in his eye and slipped getting out of the shower, causing a meltdown of epic proportions — by both of us. Luckily, my better half was there and she was able to get Chance and me back on the right path.
The moral of the story? We can all learn a lot by sharing stories.
That, and I should let my wife handle bath time.
I am pleased to share that over the next several months, CentSai, Sam X Renick, and Sammy Rabbit will be collaborating to bring you more Sammy saving stories and strategies like mine and the ones shared in the above video of the Dream Big Tour stop at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA earlier this year. The video highlights just how purpose-filled, fun and easy early age financial literacy should and can be.
To learn more about Renick, Sammy, and their Dream Big Financial Education tour, check out their site.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of CentSai Inc.