Talk Wealth to Me

#019: How Puppet Shows Teach Kids About Money

September 19, 2019 Felipe Arevalo, Chase Peckham, Katie Utterback, Debbie Todd Season 1 Episode 19
Talk Wealth to Me
#019: How Puppet Shows Teach Kids About Money
Show Notes Transcript

Have you talked to your children about money?

The sad truth is that kids as young as two years of age are enticed to want this, want that – it’s the wily little “Want Monsta” and he is really good at making us want more than we need or can afford.

It’s hard to teach children real-life skills about spending and saving…but it will be harder later if they don’t learn! After all, money does NOT grow on trees…

There are several different strategies parents can use to educate their children about personal finance - how to budget, how to save, how to consider the cost of tax, etc. But what about the theatre? Have you ever considered taking your children to a puppet show, where they can learn about personal finance while belly laughing?

Debbie Todd is the co-founder of Ruby’s Troupe, an innovative interactive live and online theatre education group. A licensed CPA and certified financial education instructor with over 36,000 hours dedicated to “smart money” activities, Debbie is a spunky Grandma who is passionate about helping children defeat the Want Monsta and become Smart Money Commanders.

Debbie joins us on the show to share how Ruby's Troupe is creating a whole new generation of personal finance savvy youngsters, as well as why we should educate our children about money sooner than later.

About the Show
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Intro:

Welcome to Talk Wealth to Me, the safe space podcast where we chat about anything and everything related to personal finance.

Felipe Arevalo:

The information contained in this podcast is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute as accounting, legal, or tax or other professional advice.

Chase Peckham:

Hello and welcome to another edition of Talk Wealth to Me where we talk everything personal finance. Today we have a very interesting, albeit I have to admit, even though at the beginning I didn't really think that I had, I had one expectation going into this interview and I came out with a completely different one and very inspired by our guest Debbie Todd, who is a CPA. She is also a lead puppeteer for Ruby's Troupe. She goes in and I gotta tell you her passion for teaching children about the different aspects of life and one of those being and very important to her is personal finance and teaching money to children. This is a can't miss podcast. Very good. I think , uh, yeah, we'll, we'll just, we'll let it go until , uh, it doesn't, but um, right now you sound fantastic.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah. Okay. Okay. Perfect. Perfect.

Katie Utterback:

So, Debbie, maybe you could just kind of, just to start off the podcast, we could maybe just have you describe a little bit about Ruby's troupe and how this idea came up to use a live theater experience to help educate children about finance.

Debbie Todd:

Okay. Well that's a leading question and I, so I guess that's do you want the short answer or do you want the embarrassing, still relatively short answer, but a little more clarity.

Katie Utterback:

I'll take whatever you want to give me.

Debbie Todd:

Okay. Well , um, Ruby's Troupe has been in existence , um, as a local , um , live theater since 2010 and I was introduced to Ruby's troop , um, in 2016 and I will tell you that it was , um, not of my own volition that , um, I went into this , um , as a licensed CPA for 22 years. Um, I've got a lot of experience with money and families and financial strategy and I was asked to help do a puppet show and I really resisted and I resisted. But , um, as, as it came to be, I did end up offering to help , um, Phyllis , who's the original founder of Ruby's Troupe with a show for a local preschool. And so when we work through this, first of all, what I realized is that , um, anybody that thinks that doing theater and puppetry isn't , that is a really simple thing you need to think again because it's very complicated and it takes a lot of work. But , um, you know, I committed to doing it and I was just gonna do this one show with her and I taught kicking and screaming, here I go. Right? And so we practiced and I met her husband and they had this gorgeous theater that they did and these really, really well thought out programs. And so we went to do the show and we get there and I'm thinking, okay, Deb, you have, you've stood before the IRS on numerous occasions and won, this is just kids. I will tell you, when they opened the door that morning and those five-year-olds walked in the room, I was scared shit-less I didn't know what to do. I thought, this is not going to work. I'm not going to be successful. And Phyllis just sat next to me and understand we're in a closed theater. Nobody can see me. Right? So I have nothing to be embarrassed about. And she said Deb, it's 15 minutes, just 15 minutes and it'll be fine. They will love it. Started the show and understand that there's like 25 five-year-old's came in and their teachers and of course their parents and their brothers and sisters, there was all of these people in the back. And so we started into our show and like three minutes into this thing, we're doing the show and we're following the script and I'm watching the kids. And I have to tell you that the absolute sense of magic that came over me is just something to this day that I still remember. And then I also noticed the parents and their brothers and sisters in the back, how much they were enjoying it. And we got to the end of the show and the kids were all talking about what they'd learned and everything. And I looked over at Phyllis and she said, she still remembers this. She said a single tear rolled down my cheek. And she just thought I was devastated. She said, Deb, you did great. It was awesome. Are you okay? And I looked at her and I just said, I'm in love. I said, this is magic. This is a way that you can talk to children in a language that they understand in their , at their level, in their emotional mental space where they live, you know, as a child. Right. And so what she told me, and this is the [inaudible] and we've worked, I believe, I don't even know what the money show yet. Okay. This is just a going in kicking and screaming piece , right? So at this point I'm a convert and then bill is as smart as she is. She was, she was a marketing person way back when. And she just said, you know, Deb, if you thought that was good, just imagine how powerful it would be if we could utilize what we do to help children learn good things about money. And that's how smart many commanders was born. Because, I mean , it's serious. As we looked at this and we show after show, we've done lots of shows, we've done character shows, we've done mystery shows, we do libraries, all of these things. And it just never ceases to amaze me how the medium that you use and I don't, it's not just the medium, the medium is part of it, but it's the caring and the thoughtfulness that goes behind the scripts that we design and the other things that go into it that really, really, really create a sense of magic and safety for the kid because that's what they want. They want to learn, they want to explore and they want to be safe. And this is a great medium to do that. And that's really how we started. Because I can just tell you from a personal perspective, as a, as a licensed CPA, one of the biggest things that I've heard in my 22 years of practice is from parents and grandparents who tell me how, how burdened they are and they're going to have, I really wished I'd learned better skills about money when I was younger so I could help my kids and my grandkids. But they don't feel confident and comfortable doing it.

Chase Peckham:

Not to mention they probably would love to have learned those skills to help them avoid certain mistakes they made along the way when they were younger.

Debbie Todd:

It's exactly there is. And that's the other thing. I mean, cause people talk about it . Well, you know, with the budgets and it's boring and all of this like, you know, money and management and financial wellness, the math is really pretty simple. It's the , the psychological and emotional piece and what we learned or didn't learn as kids that really, really drive how we behave and how we treat money or so. Right. I mean, I was just on a , um, an interview with a clinical psychologist about, oh , it was less than a month ago. And we were talking about the kids , the children's program. And one of the things she had, she said, you know, I talked to a lot of people and one of the things we, we really have a hard time talking about is the issue of money because there's so much shame and so much negativity and so much trauma associated with it. And so we did an interview with a bunch of parents and I've got to tell you, I thought the interview was going to be 20 minutes and we talked about, you know, the typical questions, right? When, when should you start You know, exposing your child to the ideas of money. What, what's a good thing? What's not a good thing? What's age appropriate? Um, what do you think about chores? What do you think about allowance? Um, what happens if you have parents or grandparents of , of, you know , yours and you're the parent of the child and you've got grandparents who are, you know, giving them things and you know, how does, how does everybody get on the same page about money, education and teaching for it? And then about, I don't, probably 17 minutes into the call, this psychologist said, you know, I just would like to ask the parents on call if you would share with me privately in a chat, what you learned about money as a child or growing up that you may or may not have thought was could and how did that impact you in your life? And I gotta tell you, the floodgates opened up. It was just, it was mind boggling to hear some of the , the mental and emotional things that people go through that, that they don't really feel like they have a place to talk a boxed . Right. And if you, if you don't talk about it, then you don't resolve it. That's, that's the sad thing.

Katie Utterback:

Can you maybe give us an example too of some of the, I guess the emotional traumas that people were bringing up on the call. Cause I think sometimes, you know , it helps when somebody else says it, then you're kind of more aware like, oh, maybe that impacted me too.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah, no . Yeah. Okay. Well that's a great, that's a great thing. I mean, it started, it started out relatively mild. Um, you know, one just saying that, well, you know, my parents never, never talked about money in front of me, and so I didn't really understand anything about it. Stuff just was there. So I figured everything was okay until I went out on my own. So we started out with, it was never talked to about it at all. Then it's been, somebody said, well, you know, and I had questions about money, but I , every time I brought a question of money, my parents would start fighting. So I didn't want to talk about money. I didn't want to ask questions about money because every time I did, then they got upset.

Katie Utterback:

Oh, sure.

Debbie Todd:

So people realize that . Yes . So they don't feel it's comfortable to talk about money. Um , another one said, hey, my parents paid cash for everything. And so then they sent me to college and I got three credit cards and I was in way over my head before I realized I didn't know how to handle them. And I'm like, and it's all because, you know, if she didn't, she had no exposure. She didn't have any idea that hey, you know, cash is one thing, credit is another and how to, how to understand how to pay that back. And then I think the one that really got me the most was when somebody said, do you know, my parents always fought about money and they talked about how expensive things were and then my parents got divorced so I must've cost too much money.

Katie Utterback:

Oh Wow.

Debbie Todd:

And I was just, I mean, I just wanted to cry. I was like, and so, you know , those are things that people don't realize. And again, I , I want this to be , uh , uplifting and a safe conversation, right? Cause that's really where my heart's at. Um, but as I've seen it from a professional standpoint, as well as when I go out and I've been teaching core financial wellness and recovery for about 15 years , um , in communities for adults. And I see this time and time and time again is if we spend more time talking about how you feel about money and the things that scare you about it and the things that you want to dream about. And then you can start to walk through some of that healing and you can start to feel like, oh, I can make these math decisions and these practical decisions because my heart doesn't hurt and my head doesn't hurt. And you know, the same thing happens with kids. I mean, that's why we started doing this because what I've seen time and time again is that children, I mean, believe it or not, I mean there's so many studies out there that talk about children learn 75% of their core beliefs and their habits before the age of seven.

Katie Utterback:

75%?!

Debbie Todd:

75%. Yeah . Studies all over the, I mean there's their studies in , in Britain, there are studies here and these are, these are all psychological studies mostly. Um, and you know, if you think about it, the advertisers are all over it too. Cause they know how to market the kids and you know, and that's another question. Get people like what Deb , you know, I really don't think I need it. Yeah , I don't need to teach my kids about money yet. They don't need to worry about that. I want them to be a kid. And I'm like, you know that's okay, but let me just share a different perspective. And that is you are teaching your children about money every single day through your actions. And every time you set them in front of a TV or they grab a tablet or they are on your phone, they are learning. So if you're not teaching them Nike, Nickelodeon, and Nabisco are teaching them.

Felipe Arevalo:

And that's something we definitely try to emphasize during our presentations is, you're right, whether they're sitting down and teaching them or or not, those kids are learning from them through Osmosis and just, oh, that's what mom and dad is doing. Look at that.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah , exactly. They're learning every single day through mom and dad, grandma and grandpa through aunties and uncles through the neighbors. And one of the things that we as we talked about was how to develop this program, the smart money commanders program. Cause this all kind of comes into this, right? As we were thinking, well, you know, maybe, you know , if we could , um, start teaching children and exposing them to wholesome fun, you know, really practical money skills that are at age appropriate to them at a young age, they won't have to unlearn it because that's what typically happens if they developed 75% of their habits before they walk across the threshold to first grade. Right? Right. You spend the next 12 years trying to unlearn those things and it's a, it's a, you know, then you're starting to work harder. Um, think about , um, teaching your child to swim. Isn't it easier to teach them to swim when they're younger? As opposed to when they're older. Is that the same thing as riding the bike? You know, also me , there's [inaudible] countless examples and children are just, they love to learn. They're so curious and the world is just open to them. And our, our heart's belief is that if we can share with them wholesome, you know, different concepts they can pick up at their age level , um , they're going to learn it. And then when they see the Nike commercial that says you need those $200 shoes, they might go, oh wait a minute. You know, Mr Wisewood said that sometimes , um, you need to make sure there's enough money before you do that kind of stuff. It's just those simple things. And a lot of our, our, our videos that we do really take life examples that kids can relate to and we really believe that that's a very solid way and a very open way for them to be able to learn these skills cause it's not confrontational. And the other thing is that we also, w what I love about this and the unintended benefit that I didn't even think about at the time, is that the parents and the grandparents who are there with them are picking up things and they get tools so they can actually have these open and honest conversations with their child and nobody, nobody feels bad. Right. This is very, very neutral, very, very learning focused. And the parents feel confident, the kids feel confident and they're all learning the same concept.

Felipe Arevalo:

Yeah. And that's something we do a lot here now with youth that young so far but in like the high school level where we might go and do a credit presentation or something and then those kids will then inherently, you know, they might go home and tell their parents, hey you know, did you know you could check your credit report for free? And it's like helping the bigger pictures through the kid but it's not youth trying to sit there and tell the parents, hey go check your credit score, check your credit report. Cause you never checked in in a year.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah it is. And it's also, it helps the parents. The part that I think is, so the piece that we're missing that we, if we can tie this in that's so helpful, is by helping the children understand things at an earlier age. One, it makes it less problematic when, you know, cause the children go home and the all , you know , peer pressure starts to kick in and hey, you know, you know my buddy Johnny's got this and how come his shoes are 200 bucks and I can only afford $50 shoes. You know, it gives them a different perspective rather than just the comparing of what all of their friends have. Right. It really is a big issue. And so once, once that has started, it's just going to be a little more, I think a little more challenging for parents as they go through the money dynamic. And you know, as we think about where families are this day, these days, I mean, so we could , you know, here's the , here's why we want to help kids. But it really does relate to what, what is happening to families as a whole coming back. And, you know, stepping out of, of my role in Ruby's troupe and with smart money commanders and in my role as a CPA and a educator, you know, families are struggling more now than they were 20 years ago. Um, you know, more costs , um, you know, different things that are impacting that. And so the parents feel the distress, they feel the pressure and they want to provide for their kids. So you've got these , this push pull thing that's happening all the time. And if we can get everybody in the family kind of on the same page

Chase Peckham:

he has come so much further. So we pay monthly , uh, res , uh, what do we call it? A [inaudible] . We pay monthly for things that we wouldn't normally have paid for 20 years ago for all kinds of different things. So we're paying this thing and that thing and this thing and that thing so they can watch this and read this and hear this. So there's so much more pool for, for us as even as adults to pay for things. That money just keeps going out without coming in. We're in a while before it was , we go play outside and it costs us the stick that we picked up at the side of the road. And , and so kids get trained in that too when they see nothing but technology that by the way they get trained that we need to pay for that. Yeah . And that's just normal

Debbie Todd:

Well, or are they, yeah, they get trained that they think that this little magic piece of plastic is like Santa Claus . Right , right. Because they don't understand about cash cause very few people pay with cash anymore. So there , I mean I've heard kids say, well mommy , you can get that. Just pull your magic card out of your wallet and stick it in the machine. And so , so we have a whole section on, you know, what, what is money? What is money? And then they get to go in and to learning needs and wants. We talk about chores, we talk about allowances, we talk about learning how to save for things that you want, right? And we learn about giving and recycling. So we talked about reusing stuff or, or giving stuff to people who, who may, who may be able to use them if you're done with them. And then we talk , talk about giving to the community. So , um , it's just, it's just fun stuff. There's a lot of things that kids can learn and are eager to learn. Um, if they are just given the opportunity in their learning style and that's the key,

Felipe Arevalo:

right? Yeah. That, that's definitely key.

Debbie Todd:

Give a five year old a book. Yes . You can't get the five-year-old a book and set him down and say, read this or, or you know, with, with all due respect parents that want to give them a book and say, here, teach this to your kids. Because sometimes the parents have their own things that they're dealing with. And so it causes a lot of angst to do that. And, and that's really where our heart has been is to remove that.

Felipe Arevalo:

We run into that already .

Debbie Todd:

You can make it simple.

Felipe Arevalo:

Yeah. I have a five year old who, he's almost six, but you're right. It's about figuring out the method that best works. Um, for me it was, I know how to read. I can read to him , but I didn't know how to teach him to read even though I wanted to until he went to school. And I went to one of these special parent reading nights and they give you, instead of saying, why don't you try and sound that word out, if I just say, why don't you use your um , slippery snake skills or your eagle eyes skills to look at this? And it's the same thing I was trying to convey but I communicated it to him in a different language that he then hears repeated from the teacher and all of a sudden he's reading. And I was like, that's what I was trying to say. But it was just having the tools to say it in the correct way that would work for him. Cause communication really comes down to the person understanding what you're saying.

Debbie Todd:

Well exactly. That's really what it's about. And that was, that was, you know, coming back to the magic of what , what Phyllis designed and what we've been working on is like she said, she said , Deb , and, and, and , and I think I told Katie this. Um, I said Phyllis, Um, who's my business partner, Um, she's 70 going on seven and she's just amazing. I mean, she has the ability to take what I answered, you know, I do all that kind of the core designing of the money stuff because, you know, I said, it has to be right. It needs to be correct. It needs to be accurate. And she said, okay , you give it to me and then I'm going to turn it into seven year old. And that's exactly what she does. And it's phenomenal. It is just phenomenal. I mean, she's just , uh , I can't even tell you how, you know , um , as I tell her, I said, Phyllis, you have taken a hardcore regulatory compliance CPA, which is what I've done for 20 years, and you, you opened up the child in me and allowed me to see how this could absolutely transform the lives of families. And again, I'll say, well , we've done our live events , we've done our shows. You know, it's funny because Phyllis has always got her eyes on the kids, right? The kids were always up front and the parents and the grandparents are in the back. And I'm always watching the, what I call the tall kids, which are the parents and the grandparents. And it is so amazing to see them laughing. And then afterwards for them to come up and say, you know, they act, they'll ask their child and they'll say, well, what did you think? How do you think ruby felt when that happened? Or do you think, do you think that sparky had the good idea when he talked about saving, you know, 10% of his money? What do you think about that? How do you think that would work? And so it just takes the whole dynamic and makes it into something relatable that the kids can understand and that the parents feel comfortable talking about. So they get empowered at the same time their children are learning.

Katie Utterback:

And you know, what I really love about this is I grew up watching a lot of Disney movies and a lot of the lessons that you learn from a lot of Disney movies have stuck with me. Yeah. So even though I'm almost 30, I am constantly referencing back Disney movies and lessons I learned. Yeah .

Debbie Todd:

Yes, exactly. And those are the, those are the things to think about. And if you think about that, that we learned in and going back, and I'm a little older than that, you know, life was a lot less complicated 20 years ago and now I think it's even more imperative that as technology increases and as the pace of life and the expectations , um , that people's kind of internally feel continue to just get higher and harder and faster, that we know that we've got that foundation that's there that we can use to say, yeah, okay , I'm walking this thing and I'm walking fast, but I know that these are guidelines that I'm going to be following. Because if they don't have the guidelines, then what are they going to anchor to? Um, you know, and I'd say the case in point is that I have a colleague who just retired as the comptroller , um , for Oregon State University and she called, Oh , this was back in like December. And she said, dad, when are you going to formally release the program? And I said, wait, we're working on it. And she said she was so frustrated. She said, I just had to issue a non credit personal finance class for incoming freshmen because they don't know how to pay their tuition. 18 year olds. She was just beside herself. She said, Deb, what's going to happen to them? You know? And I told her, I said, well, you know, what you need to do is you need to not have those five or six credit card companies that are lined up along the wall as they're going to freshmen registration. That might be a good thing to start them , you know? And cause that's what happened.

Chase Peckham:

That's how I got my first two credit cards.

Debbie Todd:

And if we get into what's that?

Chase Peckham:

That's how I got my first two credit cards.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah.

Chase Peckham:

Right, right in the middle of campus.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah. Right there. Right there in freshman registration. Right.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah.

Debbie Todd:

And again, and again, I'm not trying to knock on the credit cards . Can I just, I want to come back to just saying that the ease and convenience of technology and availability of things , um , if you don't have a core basic understanding of what, what good financial management means and how to, how to think about beyond today, you know, it's a recipe for disaster. And, and I really just, my heart just feels burdened to help families do this and it can be fun. And that's the part that's so neat about it, is doing it in a way that fun where they laugh. It's very interactive. Um , because again, as you said, how do children learn best? They don't necessarily learn best when you're sitting them down on their bottom and saying, read this book or let me share with you this book. Right. They want to get up, they want to move around, they want to touch, they want to go under it. They want to go through it. They want to , you know , tolerate a different color. That's what they do. Um, you know, there was , um, an thing , um, by Ben Franklin and he says, what have you say, tell me. And I will forget, show me. And I will remember, engage me and I will learn.

Katie Utterback:

I like that.

Felipe Arevalo:

It's a good one.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah, it's very, and I think, I think I've got that quoted correctly, but it's a pretty, it's pretty close. Yeah. I'm done trying to do it off of memory. Right. We will [inaudible] and grabbed one of my business cards. I could tell you, you know , right off the bat what it is because I ,

Chase Peckham:

but on our wrap up, we will find out if what the exact quote is on that. I promise you. I promise you, I , I've, it's interesting you said something along the way that makes , that I'm interested in. Okay .

Debbie Todd:

What's that?

Chase Peckham:

And You mentioned you talk about allowance and you talk about those things with kids and there's obviously been arguments both ways for it and against it. Uh , what , what's your take on, not only should kids get an allowance for basic things, but, uh , what age and uh, or should it happen at all?

Debbie Todd:

Well and here , here's what my answer is to that. My answer is the subject of allowance. Um , the age of it as well as whether or not you believe it's appropriate is it is a family decision. Again, this is not one size fits all. Some families have um , either for financial reasons or tradition reasons or religious reasons don't happen to think that it's a good idea and so they should respect that. Again, allowances and chores and at what age they are really depends on the family, right? I personally believe that and this is my own personal belief and I tell people this, if in my personal belief is that certain chores everybody should be able to do, and you do those because you are a member of the family. Everybody lives here. Everybody contributes. Then you have what we call bonus chores or items that you can earn money for and those are very age appropriate. And I , we have a whole list of things that we suggest that you can think about. And again, only if the family thinks that that's appropriate, but it's a good mechanism to teach them work ethic as well as giving them the responsibility to say, I am earning my own money. I am doing this to earn my own money and then take that into next step of here's how much you want to save, here's how much you want to use to spend and here's how much you want to use to get right. So it can be a very, very helpful tool to teach them a multitude of things beyond just money.

Chase Peckham:

Right. And that's our argument is the , there's, there's so much more to money than just the tangible side of it. It's the idea of earning it and using it and understanding that it's not just to buy things that it's needed to basically work in our everyday lives basically in everything that we do. Everything around them has to do with money at some point. And that's the hardest part for kids and even teenagers to really understand.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah. They're learning life lessons. And um, you know, if you, if you to quote somebody who's fairly famous then in the money realm , um, take a look at Dave Ramsey , what he says, he has a quote [inaudible] teaching children about money is never just about money. And he's absolutely right because if we know, I mean, as adults we all know that money can money, first of all, it's a tool, but it's a tool that be used to for you or it's a tool that can be used to , to put shackles around you. That's the difference. You know, we all, you know, it'd be nice if we all live in a world where we didn't need money to pay for things, but money is the medium of exchange. And how you handled that will in large part shape some of the opportunities that you can take in life or you may have to forego in life. That's the , that's the sad reality. Right? So you're right. I mean, teaching kids this , um , you know, I , I used to get asked when our girls were in school, you know, it was always funny, right? And you guys probably get this a lot too. I'd always get invited into the, like the 10th grade math class, hey, have your mom come in and you know, let's talk about retirement, right? And I'm thinking, okay, so we'll go into , we'll talk to 10th graders about retirement. And I think, yeah , I want to talk to the fourth graders to why that's it. Because that way I can talk to them about it before we have to unlearn things, right? Cause you know, you walk into a 10th grade class and the first thing you do is you could have big chart up on the board and you say, okay , so how many of you guys want to be a millionaire before you're 30

Chase Peckham:

right ? Pull out the rule of 72 every year

Debbie Todd:

Every hand goes up. And then you start talking to them about what it's going to take to do that. And then all of a sudden they're like, oh, well that's a bummer. I don't want to give up stuff. Right? Oh I want $1 million, But I don't want to have to earn it. Okay . And I'm like, well that's kind of the reality of what it happens. And sometimes it's, again it comes back to what they understand early on, either through chores or through other family education about saving. I mean we , we have a game in our program where we ask the family to come up with a family goal and you know, the Disney vacations always a great example. If you hear that cited so many times, have you put it up there and you just say everybody, we're , we're going to not do some of these things. We agree as a family that we're going to, we're going to set aside money cause we want to have a good Disney vacation. And then you have a little, you know, a little thermometer on your refrigerator that shows how much money has been saved for it. So the kids can see the value of getting close to their goal as they continue to do the things to achieve that goal. Right. I mean there's just so many simple ways that the kids can learn these things. They're very visual and when they realize that they have a part of that, they understand that they've done something to help that happen. They get a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that will help them later on in life

Chase Peckham:

without question. I mean, just it's human. It's human nature to be excited about something when you accomplish something. So it gets back to those old things that your mom and your grandpa and your dad used to tell you that you know with, with things come that are greater when you work harder or when you work for something.

Debbie Todd:

Yeah, yeah, yeah . Good things come to those who wait.

Chase Peckham:

That's that as well, right?

Debbie Todd:

That's kind of the , that's kind of the statement, but, but you're so right. I mean, there's just so many, so many things that we can, how our kids can benefit if we will take just the time to engage them when they're younger, because that's what I said. That's why I think that this, this is such a magical thing to do because they're , they're alive, they're curious and that's just exactly what they want to do.

Chase Peckham:

How often do you have parents reach out to you and say, how do I keep this up? How do I keep explaining this to my kids? And, and on the reverse side, how many might even discuss the fact that, man, I, I don't know certain things,

Debbie Todd:

you know, that's a great question. Well, before we get into that, let me, let me just share with you, I pulled out the card, I wanted to give you the Ben Franklin quote as it is, and that says , tell me, and I forget. Teach me. And I remember engage me and I learn.

Chase Peckham:

So you were close.

Debbie Todd:

That's the Ben Franklin quote. And that's the hallmark behind what we're doing. Because we believe that by engaging children in their natural learning style, they're going to learn. It's got to be fun. It's gotta be active and it's gotta be safe. So , um, but then to go back to your question about how do we, how do we keep bringing this up and how do parents work with this? And you're absolutely right. Because what would happens is we all know money, money learning and money skills is not something you learn overnight. You don't learn it in a weekend. Um, you can go to a seminar and you can, you know, get all kinds of good data. And as my friends say, I learned just enough to be really dangerous because it just is right. You can't go in and say, Oh, I learned this on, you know, in , in an eight hour course and now all of a sudden I'm a money expert. It doesn't work that way. Not at least I haven't,

Chase Peckham:

not at all.

Debbie Todd:

So, right. So what we, what we've been doing, and that's kind of, I'll segue a little bit, cause this kind of leads into what we've got going on here locally in October is , um, we actually have in, in our children's program, our children's program is a seven week program. And each week they learn one new building block with activities and with discussion point . And then the next week builds on that. So they're actually learning this over a period of time and they keep incorporating these new skills that they can continue to use. And we just, we love to work with , with folks and everybody says, well, why do you do it this way? And our stuff is actually what we call guided because we don't just like sell a DVD to somebody and say , good luck and come back and tell us how that works. Because as we've seen with so many other programs, you buy it, you get excited. It's hard, you don't, you don't understand it and you set it down on your treadmill in the bank , right? Because you don't want to do it. Well, we don't. We have the philosophy that if you have access to our team and you can ask questions or share your wins and you're all going through it at this different buddies doing it at the same time, it builds upon itself and it's very, again, it's very safe. And we , we just love the fact that not only do the children, they feel comfortable learning, but they also see their parents or their grandparents, whoever's, you know, we call them the commander coaches, right? Whoever's going through it with them, you know, they're , they're developing a special bond. They're talking about things and they're exploring new ideas. And, you know, the part that's so fun is that they're always coming to us with ideas and you're saying, hey, could you do a show on this? And I'm going, well, yeah, I might take us about three weeks, but we could do that. And so we can, we can customize and adapt to whatever the need is, which is really neat. I mean, it's just, you know , it's a lot of work, but it's just so cool that we can do that and to see the benefit. Um, cause we did a show for compassion last year and , uh, they, they had asked us, they said, we're , we're going to be going out and we're going to be doing outreach over in the Ukraine. And I'm going, okay. And they're like, we would love to take this show that you've done because we think it would be really helpful. We're going over to do some work for widows and orphans. Okay. I said, well, it's in English. Is that okay? Yeah . And then I had this thought, I said, well you know, do you have a Ukrainian interpreter? Well yeah we do. Well if I send her the script, can she translate it into your hand for me? And then we can subtitle it into Ukrainian language. And that's how we sent it . That's how we sent the video over. Wow. I mean it was just, I mean it was so cool to be able to do that to say, you know , here's, here's something we did to help children here. And they took it and it took about, I don't know, eight hours or so to get it all subtitled and fixed up nice. And we send it over there electronically and they showed it at , at four different orphanages. Oh Wow. How cool is that? Yeah. But you know, it's thinking out of the box and it's realizing that , um, cause you know, here's the thing, people having questions about money or struggling with money isn't just a thing here in the United States, right? It's all over the world. Yeah.

Katie Utterback:

What does it, what does it mean to you to be a part of a group like this that's kind of educating people about finance in such a groundbreaking way that you're getting international attention? Yeah .

Debbie Todd:

Um, what it means to me is it means that one, the first thing it tells me is that there's a huge need. And that excites me. And it also saddens me because, you know, the fact that there's such a huge need, not only in our own country but all over the world just, just makes me sad because it's like, it doesn't have to be that way. So that's the first thing I feel. But then the second thing is, is that I realize that , um, you know, every one of us are here and we all have a talent and we all have a gift. We have something we can share with somebody else to make their lives better. And thanks to my friend Phyllis who drug me to brought me to a preschool like three years ago. My, I feel like my gift is being able to help families get comfortable talking about money and learning good skills about money in a way that is fun and it is active and is not threatening. It needs to be safe and fun. And so that's, that's the part that I enjoy. Um, you know, I actually don't think about a whole lot about whether it's international or any of those things. I'm , unless somebody says, well, I want to , I want you to do this and it needs to be dubbed it in a different language than somebody needs to help that. But really it's about helping other folks and , um, wherever it goes, it goes. I guess from the standpoint of if this thing takes off and goes, you know, all over the place, I'm just really going to be prayerful that things happen and we have enough resources and enough people to help make sure that it stays this , the quality program that it needs to be. Because ultimately it's really about the empowerment and the results that would happen to the families.

Chase Peckham:

That's phenomenal.

Debbie Todd:

So anyway , that's my answer. Um, but you know, is it okay if I say a little bit when you were talking about the , um, the family piece? Yeah , we jumped back to that. Cause what I was telling you is that , um , you know, obviously, you know when we first connected it was about smart many commanders and you know, the fact is that there's money [ inaudible] and wanting to do better with money and being smarter and feel like you're more confident with it. Just a child thing. It's a family thing. And so what we're working on for October , um , is we are actually putting together a community wide event that's going to start out, okay. Remember what I said about only learning it in two days. It's gonna start out as a live event on a Friday and a Saturday to give people the framework that they are going to need in order to register and come in to our 10 week class. So we're going to give them the basic tools that they need to get started. And while the while the, you know, this is where it gets to be fun because I'm going to be upfront with a couple of my colleagues and we're going to be teaching what we call the big kids 16 and over. It's going to be up front with us and then we're going to have a whole nother group teaching the younger kids the entire smart money commanders program at the same time. And so it's whole family money education, all at the same time

Chase Peckham:

are there core subject matter that you guys focus on in that, in that way with them , with the tall people you say are there, is there a , a basic subject matter that you start with?

Debbie Todd:

Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. It's, it's really base . It's, it's basic subject matter. It's, it's, you know, it's stuff that they could learn if they wanted to sit down and take the time to pull out a book. Um, cause this, we all know financial education, there's really just core concepts that you need. Um, and then we, so we are going to cover all of the basics. We have eight different topics that we're going to touch on about an hour per topic. Um, a lot of it's going to be active, a lot of it's going to be gained. And we also always, whenever we do our live events, we always do a w what I call a parking lot board where people can come up and ask specific questions and they ask them anonymously and then we during breaks we go grab those questions and we start answering them.

Chase Peckham:

Oh that's now . That's great. Yeah.

Debbie Todd:

So we're so we're able to customize it to what really , what the people need that are there.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. That's, that's really good. That's really, cause that's all we, you mentioned. I mean you, if you , you get an hour with, you know, we get an hour with a group or two hours that that's nothing. It's not near enough time to teach people all these skills. So the way we have looked at it is we want to empower them. We want them to be, get excited about it, feel like this is something I've got to do because it's gonna make my life better. And then ask more questions as they go. And whichever way they find it, whether it's from us or it's they go online or they read Dave Ramsey or whatever it might be, it's that they get excited and understand by learning these skills, their family is going to benefit, their stress levels are going to go down. All of these things because we're not going to teach all these basic things in one. First of all, you can't retain, it's impossible to retain all of it. No. And to ask , you just want them to get excited to want to baby step, learn these things.

Debbie Todd:

Yes. Yeah. It is an end to be exposed to it. So, I mean, that's what we're our, our, you know, our two day seminar is really just basics, but it's a broad basics. We tell them we're setting the foundation. This is the foundation of your house and just legal know that, you know, when you're building it, you know , when you're building a house, your foundation needs to have all of these things. And once you understand what those things are, then we'll come back and every week afterwards , week by week, we actually take a deeper into each one of those subjects. And you know, it again, it's , it's guided . Everybody's on doing the same thing the same week and they ask questions and again, so they get to drive it right there. If they have their specific questions, then we're able to give them the help that they need. And there they, they kind of developed a programs of each. Each time I do this, it's, it's, it's the same concept, but sometimes the areas where we end up spending our additional time is different depending on what the need of the group is. So it really does. It really does have some transformative , um, potential to it. And that's really what it's about because if families feel like they can manage this and they can understand it better, they can make better decisions and you know, as we all know, I mean, not that I want to jump back into stats and all of that, but money problems are cited for 80 plus percent of divorces in our country . I mean 80 single , over 80%. Yeah. 80% establishing number . Yeah. I think the last number I heard was like 82% but again, that's again, you know, depending on who you're looking at. But it's just a , it's a ridiculously high percent. And of that, half of those people cite spending and saving differences as the main sub reason. And why is that? It's because they don't, they don't, they haven't learned how to talk about it.

Chase Peckham:

Communication, that word keeps coming up, Katie!

Katie Utterback:

it does! And planning! Communication and planning.

Debbie Todd:

Right. But again, but think about it. So communication when you're talking about money can be very, very dicey because you know, I mean, and I don't know about, cause I think you guys are probably all financial professionals as well, but I can tell you that in my practice people would rather tell me that they've got a criminal record or did they have been unfaithful in their relationship. Then they will openly tell me on a stuff about their money going in.

Chase Peckham:

I find it, we find that too. Yeah. It's very uncomfortable for a lot of people because they feel like that's supposed to be just basic knowledge. They should know. And the honest reality is it's not, nobody is taught this stuff.

Debbie Todd:

Nobody's teaching it. Yeah. That you could, we start talking about is not being taught in schools and then you get me off .

Chase Peckham:

That's a whole other podcast. Huh .

Debbie Todd:

But here again, that's really what it's about because you know, I get so distressed. I mean we , we, we talk about teaching kids to standardized tests and all of that, but it's like we need to teach them life. We need to teach them things that are going to be important in life. And believe me, I don't want to say that Algebra is not important or that chemistry is not important. But I'll tell you what, if you can't do a budget and you can't pay your rent and you end up homeless or they repossessed your car, it's not gonna matter what that Algebra equation did, right.

Chase Peckham:

I truly believe they should be the 21st century home economics.

Debbie Todd:

You know, I just, yeah, and I, you know, obviously , um, as you can see I'm sold out to this, but that's really why we, you don't have to bring it all back. That's why smart money commanders was born. As we say, I've seen this. I mean, this has been a burden on my heart for families for 15 years. And just discovering this medium, which like this is something that can really, really transform the lives of people. And I'm talking to little people. I'm talking. Yeah,

Katie Utterback:

well said. So Debbie , and so we've had an absolute treat having you on our show today. Where can our listeners find more information about you and Ruby's Troupe?

Debbie Todd:

Well, they can go to Ruby's, troupe.com. That's R U, B Y, s t r o u p e.com. And when you get there, you will see what we do. Um, we have character shows, we have money shows, we have mysteries, so it's more than just money, but smart money commanders is a big part of that. And then if you were to look in the upper right hand corner, there is a link that says join ruby on teachable. And I would encourage anybody that wants to to go click that link and sign up for our free commanders , which is our initial, that's our kind of our gets to know us area where it doesn't cost you anything. And we've got some really fun little resources there for families. And then , um, you know, the plan, I think the next time we'll be offering smart money commanders for people to come and join us, we'll probably be mid-October because what happens is we only offer that four times a year because as I said, it is a guided program. This is not just buy it and get stuck with it. And hope you can make it work. Sure . You really do work. We are there with you every step of the way. And so every week we talk about the lessons, we talk about what questions came up, we talked about that we have, we have office hours, right? So you just think about it, you get two theater, creative natives and a spunky CPA. They're there to answer your questions and it's just a lot of fun for us to be able to do it. And it , I think it really helps the parents feel like they're not alone and it encourages them to feel like they can take the next step with their child. And that's really what the all about .

Katie Utterback:

Well said .

Felipe Arevalo:

That was great.

Katie Utterback:

Thank you so much. That was Debbie Todd, CPA from Ruby's Troupe. Yeah.

Debbie Todd:

And the Smart Money Commanders. Thank you very much.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. Thank you.

Felipe Arevalo:

Thank you.

Debbie Todd:

Thank you.

Chase Peckham:

And now for a little follow up with myself, Phil and Katie.

Felipe Arevalo:

So Ruby's Troupe, Huh?

Chase Peckham:

Yup. Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember, involve me and I may learn.

Katie Utterback:

That was me to a T growing up. I love stories like that. It actually was, that's what clicks in my brain.

Chase Peckham:

And it wasn't, I may learn, I threw may in there, but it involved me and I learn . So tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learned Benjamin Franklin and she mentioned that. We just heard that and it was amazing how close she got to remembering the exact words off the top of her head. But man, if that doesn't fit exactly what they're doing,

Katie Utterback:

oh yeah.

Felipe Arevalo:

And for kids that's, that's a learning style that they can relate to and that they can absorb more of the content than if you go up there and you try and lecture them, who you involve them in the puppet show and they're more likely to grasp that concept.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. And I have to admit, I went into this interview thinking one thing, you know, kind of be like, okay, here we go. A puppet show about money and we're going to teach. She impressed me and what they're doing has impressed me. How I it through the course of that conversation, which I have to admit , uh , I, I found fascinating. Just the conversation that we had,

Felipe Arevalo:

their passion for it. Yeah. Drive it so much. It makes it seem more relevant and you can tell that it's something that they really, really liked to do, which makes you better at things.

Katie Utterback:

Well, it's gotta help having an out like a third party. Explain something to your kid. I don't have kids yet, but I'm guessing that they're not gonna want to hear me explain everything in the world to them.

Chase Peckham:

Oh, they definitely don't. They don't want to wait on them. Yeah. They , no doubt. It's like sports or, or the arts or something like that that your kids are involved in. Eventually it falls on deaf ears because you are their parent. You're telling them to make their bed. You're telling them to do this. You're telling them how to tie their shoes. You gotta get ready for school. Let's go. Eventually you've got to let others kind of teach your kids because it's kind of like your favorite uncle or your favorite aunt that you had growing up. How much more did you believe what they said than what your parents said? Even though they probably said the same thing. I could teach my son everything about baseball and he'll listen, but then until a coach or somebody that he looks up to tells them the exact same thing and he'll look at me and roll his eyes like, who told you that? Oh, you know, I think that they're onto something into the fact that why not grab the attention of these kids that are sponges even though they won't really understand the full concept. They're not physically using it yet, but just the idea of it being introduced and getting the idea of watching and kind of understanding what mom and dad are doing. When they take that , that that magical card and they , they put it in the machine and then we get stuff.

Katie Utterback:

You don't even have to put it in the machine anymore. You can just tap it on top now.

Chase Peckham:

that still kind of freaked me out. I'm still just in the chip mode.

Katie Utterback:

I'm still in chip mode, that's funny .

Felipe Arevalo:

or you can even use your phone.

Chase Peckham:

You can . My wife just like filled up my wallet and my phone the other day and I didn't really like that either. Like why do we do that? I'll just use money and cards and stuff. It's not cash any more now it's phones. I'm always just afraid though that I have that older generation that that older generation, my phone, I'm afraid somebody's going to hack into it and get all my money information. But I mean realistically online purchases already. Yeah, no, you're 1000% right. That's when my 85 year old father, no , 75 year old father comes in and he says, well you know, if you use those computers, you know those things that you can lose everything from those. Anybody can get into those. I just look at my dad and roll my eyes. So I guess it just keeps on generation . [inaudible] he's probably not wrong, but you know, you just talk , talking about checks the other day and the fact that uh, you think I'm a dinosaur cause I still write checks. But doggone it, if I can keep track of everything very easily and you people with those little card things, I bet you're not keeping track. And I'm like, Dad, what do I do for a living? And he's like, Oh yeah, oh well.

Katie Utterback:

this is hysterical. So this is just like a parent child thing. This has nothing to do with the topic or anything.

Felipe Arevalo:

I think so. But, but the, the introduction of money by someone else allows the parent to maybe even though we're looking at it is like, oh, a puppet show and you're , if your kid comes home and starts telling you about a puppet show, you may initially want to , uh, you know, start cooking. The topic is of so much importance that if the parents can then, and they mentioned it, sometimes the parents would stand in the background and, and error in the back and start nodding their heads. You know, it gives another avenue, another way of talking to kids about money that may not be as intimidating or boring to that kid.

Katie Utterback:

I'm sure you could probably do guided listening too and just figure out what they know. And then just.

Felipe Arevalo:

Guide them to where they need to go.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. And I mean just the idea that they came up with to, what initially I would imagine was to entertain kids and just wanting to do the puppet shows, but realizing that they were having such an impact that they could introduce things like money , um, character, all those kinds of things. Trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, all those things that, you know, kids need to learn as they get older. And if they could watch any kind of television and news, they're not going to learn any of that. So having things in those outlets like that I think are invaluable no matter what they're teaching. But in this case, money, as we talked about in the interview, you know, us parents don't always one have the time or even think to set aside the time to teach financials. And then maybe a lot of the times we just as parents don't know what to teach them, how to teach them. Right. And you mentioned it in the interview, as I was listening back, that you know, you as a parent, you don't necessarily have the skills to teach kids certain things. I mean, you talked about it with it when it comes to homework.

Felipe Arevalo:

That's true. I'm not a teacher.

Chase Peckham:

Right.

Felipe Arevalo:

You know, I'm not a , yeah, I teach people about money when we did these presentations, but that's was not teaching children. Um, you know, I couldn't come up with a lesson plan for my first graders class and I couldn't, when we do back to school night and the teacher starts explaining here's what we're learning and here's how I'm teaching it. And I'm sitting there looking at it like, wow, that's a good way to teach it . I never thought of that. Right. Yeah . That's not, yeah. I'm sitting there like, oh, that's why you're the teacher. Um, and if you teach it in a way that's age appropriate , um, to, to that student, then the topic becomes easier for them to comprehend.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. I the whole time we were sitting there during that interview and I had a certain idea in view of what they were doing and I was completely, the more I listened to her, I was, I was so engaged. Yeah. I really was. As I was listening back in, if it's hard for me, I didn't talk very much. And the idea that I was listening so closely and intently was I was drinking the Koolaid. Oh , all right.

Felipe Arevalo:

That's exactly the analogy I was gonna use.

Chase Peckham:

Completely different than I thought we were going to get.

Katie Utterback:

I think that's the beauty though when it comes to education, is that we all learn in different styles. And like you were saying, there's so many that could maybe teach your kid in a way that it doesn't register in your brain, but maybe like you were saying, chasing connect, maybe it clicks more with your daughter than your son or something.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. Oh, there's definitely, I mean , personality comes into it for sure, but just the fact that kids have the ability to get introduced to these things in a way that can be engaging and fun and exciting. Um,

Katie Utterback:

I wonder too , I wonder if parents could also make this a challenge and just start as you teach your kids about the healthy ma , like money behaviors. If you could maybe take that as a chance to just sit for a minute and figure out what are some of your unhealthy behaviors and then kind of work on that with your kid. Because as your kid is.

Felipe Arevalo:

Find your money monster,

Katie Utterback:

yeah. Find your want monsta and then you know, work with them cause they're gonna Watch you. And it's not a bad lesson to learn early on how to recover after you make a mistake.

Chase Peckham:

without question, without question. Well, if you're interested in seeing what Ruby's troupe is all about , about you can go to Ruby's troop . That is R U B Y s t r o u p e.com. Ruby's troupe.com . Do not put in like troop, like an army troop. Put in a R U B Y s t r o u p.com Ruby's troupe .com and check out what Phyllis and Debbie are doing. It is really impressive work. [inaudible] .