Money Checkup Podcast

Episode 56: Financial Literacy for Kids with Mac Gardner

A few years ago, one of Mac Gardner’s clients approached him. She served on the board of a children-serving nonprofit, and she asked if Mac could create some financial literacy materials for the kids the organization served. Mac did — and he learned along the way that many kids have very little exposure to the basics of personal finance. He created The Four Money Bears to help instill in kids those basic principles.

“There are really only four things you can do with money: Spend it, save it, invest it, and give it away. Those are the four building blocks of financial literacy.”

Mac also runs a company, FinLit Tech, that focuses on building bridges between financial literacy and financial technology. He lives in Tampa with his family. 

ABOUT THE GUEST:

Mac Gardner, CFP®, has served in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. His passion for financial literacy led him to publish his first book, Motivate Your Money!, in 2013. 

As his family grew and his clients began to ask him for ways to teach their kids about managing money he decided to use elements from his first book to develop a financial literacy platform for young children. The Four Money Bears represent the four basic functions of money. When children gain exposure to money management skills at an early age, they are more likely to develop healthy financial planning habits as adults. 

Social media, website, book link:

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Mac started his career as a retail banker, then moved into roles as a trust administrator, a commercial lender, and a corporate retirement plan specialist before he started working in the high-net-worth financial planning space. Wearing a wide variety of hats in the personal finance industry allowed him to start compiling “Mac nuggets” of wisdom that spurred him toward writing books.
  • After publishing Motivate Your Money! in 2013, one of Mac’s clients invited him to create something for a children-serving nonprofit. He learned that only a small fraction of schools offer financial literacy education and few of those schools serve children from low-income families.
  • Only 21 states require any kind of financial literacy study during K-12 education. But children begin understanding the concepts of money around age 7. That allows for a yearslong gap that is often filled with “misinformation or no information,” Mac says. 
  • The Four Money Bears is written for kids ages 5-11. Spender Bear, Saver Bear, Investor Bear, and Giver Bear all work together to create a budget, demonstrating that each person should use some of their money to fulfill each of these functions. 
  • For younger kids, Mac recommends giving kids an allowance in cash if possible, so they can see and touch money and visualize spending and saving. On Mac’s website, parents can download “Bear Bucks” that kids can use for this purpose
  • Mac’s three Rs of storytelling: Relatable, Retainable, and Repeatable. Mac seeks to help create stories for his clients that they can intuitively understand, remember, and implement.
  • One of the rules Mac teaches is the Rule of 72. The Rule of 72 states that, if you can get 10% returns every year for 7.2 years, you can double the total value of your investment. If you were to earn a 72% rate of return, you would double your money in just one year. If your rate of return is smaller, of course it will take longer for your money to double. 
  • Mac’s company, FinLit Tech, seeks to build a bridge between financial literacy and financial technology, and recently started partnering with eMoney to build out their financial education and wellness platform. 

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

Words of wisdom: 

“There are really only four things you can do with money: Spend it, save it, invest it, and give it away. Those are the four building blocks of financial literacy.” 

“Financial advisors are counselors and we’re teachers. People come to us to look for guidance. Because financial literacy isn’t taught in schools and because it’s not something that is a course, per se, for a lot of people, people need help. I enjoy helping and teaching.” 

“All we are at the end of our days is a collection of stories.” 

“Our industry is so complex and there’s so many acronyms and we could so easily talk over our clients and their families’ heads. I try to keep it as simple as possible so folks can pick up what I’m putting down.”

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If you liked this episode, here’s another I think you’ll enjoy: Episode 53: Communicating Uncertainty with ‘Sketch Guy’ Carl Richards

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