The Tony Steuer Podcast

Get Ready with Sam Renick: It’s Never Too Early for Financial Education

March 16, 2020 Tony Steuer Episode 15
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Sam Renick: It’s Never Too Early for Financial Education
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The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Sam Renick: It’s Never Too Early for Financial Education
Mar 16, 2020 Episode 15
Tony Steuer

“ The most important thought, is the idea of paying yourself first or spending less than you earn, however you like to look at it.  It’s an important idea that anyone can take action on.” - Sam Renick

In this episode, I spoke with Sam X. Renick, founder of the “It’s a Habit!” Company and co-creator of Sammy Rabbit   about the importance of financial literacy. We discussed how advisors and companies can be be active in promoting financial literacy. We also discussed the importance of financial literacy for children and how to talk with children about money.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast. 

Bio: 

Sam Renick is an internationally recognized leader and pioneer in financial literacy. In 2001, Sam founded the “It’s a Habit!” Company and co-created children's storybook character Sammy Rabbit to make it easy for anyone to talk to and teach young children about great money habits!  Since then Sam has produced one of the largest libraries in the world of financial literacy resources. It includes stories and songs like Sammy’s Big Dream, Get in the Habit, S.A.V.E. Rainy Day, Lemonade Stand, Anyone Can Be Rich, Show Your Family the Way and more. Sam has also received numerous awards for his innovative work including National Financial Educators Council Financial Educator of the Year (2016), NJ Coalition for Financial Education Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), Excellence in Financial Literacy Education Program.


Show Notes Transcript

“ The most important thought, is the idea of paying yourself first or spending less than you earn, however you like to look at it.  It’s an important idea that anyone can take action on.” - Sam Renick

In this episode, I spoke with Sam X. Renick, founder of the “It’s a Habit!” Company and co-creator of Sammy Rabbit   about the importance of financial literacy. We discussed how advisors and companies can be be active in promoting financial literacy. We also discussed the importance of financial literacy for children and how to talk with children about money.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast. 

Bio: 

Sam Renick is an internationally recognized leader and pioneer in financial literacy. In 2001, Sam founded the “It’s a Habit!” Company and co-created children's storybook character Sammy Rabbit to make it easy for anyone to talk to and teach young children about great money habits!  Since then Sam has produced one of the largest libraries in the world of financial literacy resources. It includes stories and songs like Sammy’s Big Dream, Get in the Habit, S.A.V.E. Rainy Day, Lemonade Stand, Anyone Can Be Rich, Show Your Family the Way and more. Sam has also received numerous awards for his innovative work including National Financial Educators Council Financial Educator of the Year (2016), NJ Coalition for Financial Education Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), Excellence in Financial Literacy Education Program.


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the get ready with Tony Stewart podcast in partnership with insurance nerds. I'm pleased to be joined today by Sam Renick , Sam. Good morning. How are you?

Speaker 2:

Hey, good morning, Tony. Thank you for having me. I'm doing Sammy [inaudible] as we like to say.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Well, I'm glad to have you. Uh, so in this episode, we'll be discussing how it's never too early for financial education. Sam is the internationally recognized leader and pioneer in financial literacy in 2001, Sam founded the it's a habit company and co-created children's storybook character, Sammy rabbit to make it easy for anyone to talk to you and teach young children about great money habits. Since then, Sam has introduced, produced one of the largest libraries in the world of financial literacy resources, including stories and songs like Sammy's big dream. Get in the habit , save rainy day lemonade, stand and more , uh, and all of these links and information will be on the show notes a little bit more about Sam before we dive in , um, for nearly two decades, Sam has delivered his innovative and infectious brand of financial education to more than a quarter million children in eight countries in 40 States. Sam has also received numerous awards for his innovative work. Uh , so Sam let's let's get started. Um, how did you get started with what you're doing?

Speaker 2:

Well, it was all , uh , quite accidental. Uh, Tony, this is actually my third quarter path. I spent about 12 years in aerospace on the business side. It was just a great experience for me. And it's really where I learned to develop and take ideas out of our head and turn them into real things like books and characters and stuff like that. I went from finance , uh , from , uh , the aerospace industry into financial services , uh , mainly selling mutual funds related to retirement, some related to college saving . And then I was doing a little bit of , uh , insurance as well. And the firm I was with was a small boutique independent firm. And they'd have these weekly training sessions on Fridays where they'd bring in professionals from the industry who, you know , wanted us to represent their products. And they lead a sales training. And, you know, I had been doing this for a few years and one day a gentleman shows up with , uh , an Etch-a-Sketch and a bubble blower and I'm like, okay, what, what is he up to? What's he going to be teaching us today? And essentially he was sharing with us that he thought it was a great idea. First open up college savings accounts and start trying to establish these long term relationships with , uh, with , with families. And that just really got me to thinking, you know, why did I get into saving and investing right out of college with my first , uh , professional job? So that was one of the things that prompted me to start investigating and what people now call financial literacy, financial education, financial capability that, and now I had had some experience as a financial services professional, and I had several hundred conversations under my belt with the people just like us. And at that time I was in my thirties and I had mainly what I would describe as a , uh , a family practice where people are essentially about my age and some, a little older, but there was a theme that was developing in all these conversations. And that theme was essentially people sharing with me, their regret and despair for not saving earlier in their lives or having their parents taught them about the importance of saving and or in investing. And so that combined with the cells , uh, uh, he was a wholesaler during his presentation just made me really start to reflect on while it was quite unusual that I , I think I started working professionally at 21 and I started putting like maybe a third or 40% of what I was making into various saving and investment programs, including the four Oh one K and not surprisingly enough. After about 12 years of doing this repetitively, making a habit of it, you know, my pile of , uh , savings and investment. It grew. And I thought everybody did this because of the way my father raised me. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but he was from the Midwest. So he used to talk a lot about something called Midwest common sense and had a part of Midwest common sense was you earn here, you spend here. Yeah , that was the essence of it. And one of the other things that he really ingrained in us was this idea that , uh, you know, you can have anything you want, if you were willing to work hard enough for it. Now we had very little, I learned in college, we were essentially, you know, hovering around the , the , the , the poverty line. It's a little misleading in the sense that we never, we had everything we needed, like one pair of jeans for life. We always had food. We always had food and a place to, to sleep. And so , uh, my father thought, you know, you get that good work ethic, you get an education , uh, you'll be able to do what you want if you want to. And so, you know , that all kicked in, I was not really enthralled with financial services itself was somewhat of a disappointing experience for me. But what I found was , uh, thinking about and wanting to educate and share messages with parents and kids, you know, about the importance of a building, a nest day , uh , saving and investing. So you can make dreams come true. That was something that really resonates with me. So one day I asked myself a question. I said, Tony, I said to myself, you know, if I could only teach a child or an adult, one thing related to finances, what would it be? And I thought about that for, you know, maybe a month or two months. And I thought, you know, the most important thought that had helped me gain some independence and some security at 34 35, was this idea of paying yourself first. And so, or spending less than you earn, however you like to , to look it . I thought, you know what? I think that's an idea. It's an important idea. And it's one that anyone can take action on. So the kids, even if they're, you know, poor quote unquote, they could start saving pennies at something they can do. You know, they can put them into a savings bank, a savings jar, an envelope, whatever, whatever it is. And I thought, you know what, this and that was my translation. Really? I was like, well, how do you communicate this idea to young kids? Because I think I was concluding, it's important to start early, particularly in the environment we were living in back in say 1998, even more so today where kids are being bombarded with messages, from family, from friends, from television, from computers essentially to spend, spend, spend, and not only spend what you have spend more than what you have, not only do it now do it right now. And so I thought, you know, what if advertisers think it's important to start shaping kids, not only their thinking, but their feelings essentially from birth, we need to have those type of messages related to what I would call wealth, building security, building things of that nature. For me, I like to put more of that slant on what people might quote a call, quote, unquote, financial literacy, then just doing banking functions and things of that nature. So I think you want to get those views in your head. And so two big questions was how do you translate that message in a way that kids will understand and then to what should be a , a good vehicle for communicating that message. And that's how we kind of came up across the message saving is a great habit and , uh , Sammy rabbit. And then from there, we just, we just developing that message, wanting to bring it to kids and to parents in a variety of ways, we started with storybooks and the book, it's a habit, Sammy rabbit. And then we put it into message and more stories and then activities and experiences and things of that nature.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's, I mean, you hit on so many great points, but I think the most important takeaway of course, is to spend less than you earn. And, you know, it's such a simple concept that, you know, so many of us have a struggle with , uh, you know, don't don't

Speaker 2:

Yeah , yes, but it is okay. You hit the nail on the head. It's a simple idea. This is not rocket science. So it's very simple. That is the cornerstone. That is the foundation. So if you master that, there's a good chance you're going to do well. And then it's just a question of how well, and the other component to it is is , is, you know, making it a routine ma we like to say, make it a habit. And then it was an idea I wish I had come up with, but I surely didn't championing for it is the one David Bach came up with and that's to make it automatic. So look, I'm not any different than anyone. If you put cash in my hands, there's a good chance I'm going to spend it. You know , one thing we are great as Americans is marketing, you know, so there's a lot of opportunities every day to, to , uh, spend on a lot of great , uh, things. So if you can make your, what I would call wealth, building security, building, some people call your financial health and wellness. Uh , if you can make that a habit and make it automatic, get the money out of your hands or minimize the amount of cash you have access immediate access to cash in pocket being maybe the most immediate of all . I think the better off you're going, you're going to do

Speaker 1:

Well. That's great. Uh , you know, I know one of the things , um, as an advisor, when I worked with clients, I, you know, I oftentimes was , uh, partnering with advisors on working with our clients is that people oftentimes made things more complicated than they needed it to be. And they expected their financial services , uh, and products to be complicated. Do you think that maybe that's part of it is that we have a psychological expectation that something's not good unless there's some complexity to it?

Speaker 2:

I think, you know, that is a, what I'd call, I guess, a contributing factor. So I think, look, the basics work. So they're going to take you, let's say if, if a hundred percent is the finish line, they're going to take you 70 to 80% of the way there. Once you master the basics and nothing is more basic than spending less than you earn and saving. I think those are what I'll call leading behaviors that they often will lead you to investing. And then to the, let's say level two or level three, where maybe some more sophistication, a different level of complexity doesn't necessarily have to be overly complex, you know, then that that's where you may want to jump into that. And probably largely you're prepared and ready for that. But if you start with that to begin with, you know , uh , it's, it's probably going to be overwhelming. You may not be able to sustain it. A lot of factors, you know, come in and you want to , uh, I think, you know, here's another very, this is a simple idea, but this is slightly harder maybe to ex execute is we're all going to be doing spending. I think the idea is in my mind, spend smart and spend, this is what's a little tricky trying to align your spending with what it is you really value. What makes that tricky. And this is where I think financial advisors can be really helpful is for people to figure out what it is. They really value often the money has gone before they figured out, Oh, what I really valued was a home or, or whatever it is. Maybe it was a nice experience, but not a lot of chocolate or, you know, what , whatever, whatever it is.

Speaker 1:

Well, what is some of the concepts , uh, maybe that, you know, that you integrate in the Sammy rabbit program, that financial advisors and insurance agents and the rest of the community could integrate into their working with clients? Uh , what do you see as some commonalities? Um ,

Speaker 2:

Okay, well , uh , you know, all the things we're teaching young kids are all the things you would teach , uh , adults to begin with. Uh, we just try and do it in a slightly different way that engages the kids. Uh, everybody today has a very short attention span. So the four basic behaviors I'll call say saving is number one, that's our top priority. Two would be , uh, earning, spending smart, and then giving wisely. Those would be the, for the, for , uh , the foundation, then I'd layer on top of that setting goals and making plans. Boy, if you can figure out what it is you really want, you're going to have a great chance of , of getting it. It may really influence and inform your , your behavior and how you use your, your, your, your money. That's a little tougher with kids because they want everything. And so that's why w this is one of the reasons why we think start with saving because saving is one of these behaviors that transcends money. When you start about saving in depth, what you realize is part of what you're teaching kids is how to delay gratification. All right, that's a transferable skill you can use in all, all areas of life. You learn about , uh , goal setting. Uh , you , it , it does help you to spend smarter because you're delaying some of your spending. So it buys you time to think about what you really want. So there's a lot of benefits , uh, you know, to saving. And then I think, you know, those other, those other four. Yeah, sure. You should , uh, you know, you need to earn, you want to have a great earning , uh, ethic. And so one of our simple Sammy messages earning money is fun to do. All right . Yeah. It's work. Try and find work that you really enjoy that that pays . That's going to make work even more fun. And when you spend, don't just spend, spend smart spend with the , uh, you know, a purpose, and then you can th that's the beginning message. I mean, there's a lot of building and layering when it comes to , uh , spending , uh , you know, in the next level of my mind, you know, you want to think a little bit into me thinking means comparing and contrasting things. That's a great , uh , behavior. And then, you know, give, but not only give, but give, give wisely, put some thought in into that. That's something, I think you need to acquire some skills that in particularly in today's environment, there's a lot of giving opportunities. Some are better. Again, if you can align them for what's important to you, you're probably going to generate more , uh, satisfaction. If you're aligning, if you have goals and you make plans, you're probably going to , uh, uh, lead a life with more purpose, which is going to be more fulfilling and gratifying to you. So I think these are all ideas, little seeds . You can start planting into kids' minds , maybe as early as birth, but certainly somewhere around three or , or four years old. And the thing is one of the big things , uh, Tony , I think people, adults would be , uh , smart to assume is that if we can explain the ideas, kids can grasp them. So don't underestimate kids' abilities to learn. On the other hand, don't expect too much. Okay. They're not, they're not financial advisers , but do expect that maybe they can start making associations and having feelings like saving is a fun thing, just like spending. And it's really fun when you have coins in your , your savings jar and you put it next to your ear and you shake it. That's what saving sounds like Tony . And that's what building a future , uh , feels like, you know, it's like, Hey, I'm, I'm going somewhere. You know what? It's , this is such a strong sub limital message to send kids , uh , to have them make a habit of saving, because it says that you value their future. Their future is so important. We're saving for it so we can have a great future, you know ? And so when you start talking to kids and that of math , wow. Maybe I'll, I'll say for a day, now, boy , you've got to build in, you gotta be diligent. You've got to build in tremendous redundancy because the forces, the voices that are out there, chalk , Slurpee , big Mac, Chuckie cheese, those messages, and walls up , you know , they're , they're just doing their jobs. All right . Our jobs, as you know, the guardians of , of children, if we think, and I, I'm a person who thinks this , that learning how to use money wisely is important to having , uh , health, wealth and success in life. You know, we , we need to get some of our own messages in the kids' heads and not only the messages, but we need to bring feeling to it as well. I'm sure you've seen the studies, you know , uh , and this probably is true across the board. It doesn't just apply to money, but , uh, people don't often people don't make decisions based on what's in their financial best interest . They took based on what they, what they fit on . So you've got to have a combination of, you know, thinking and feelings, and this is where habits and making things automatic. You can turn those into big advantage advantages and things about the thing about habits is this Tony, they don't discriminate. All right , the end, they're very predictable. So we know this. If you read a lot, your knowledge and brain are going to grow. If you exercise daily, we know in advance, your health is going to improve. We know if you save, you're going to start building security and wealth that is predictable, and anyone can do it. Now. They may start in different places. You know, some people may start in penny . Some people may start in dollars. It doesn't matter. You know, I would contend this, that a person who starts with panties eventually, they're going to grow to Nichols . If they're, if they're making it a habit, which is going to grow to dimes. And if you're saving pennies and nickels and dimes, that's probably going to affect the way you think about how you spend this , uh, you know, compounding , uh, effect .

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, I mean, I know your messages targeted to children, but, you know, I keep hearing , uh, that this is exactly the same issue that so many adults experience. And I think , uh , you know, I , I, do you feel that your work with Sammy rabid is going to change how adults interact and break down some of the taboos about money and how money is this crazy thing that I can't understand and I can't grasp. And so I don't want to deal with it. I mean, is that going to help change that mindset?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Let me just say , uh, we get , uh, emails and letters from parents all the time saying, you know , uh, this is something I need to learn myself, or because my child is now , uh, talking about this or, or doing it, I'm doing more of it. Or I need to seek out a , a planner or CPA or, or whatever it is. Uh , that was the exact one of the exact point that , uh, was , uh, a compelling idea at the time to the , uh, an organization called the air force aid society. It's one of the first big and important organizations. Uh, we worked with, I was talking to their , uh , I believe he's their COO. This was at a conference. And I shared with them. I says , you know, I think, I think at that time, one of the things you're going to find about our program is if we can get the kids energized about money and saving, they'll start talking to their parents and it will have a whole impact , uh, on the family dynamic and Colonel Delaney, James Delaney , uh, said, you know, I , I think you may be right. We want to test this idea out with you. And at that time, this was back around 2003, we were just getting started. We had basically what I would describe as a service based business model. And so what that means is I was going around reading our books, conducting a, an experience, a one hour experience for kids. At that time, we had developed a costume or a character Sammy the rabbit. And so I would read the kids , uh , we would sing the kids and then Sammy the rabbit. And I would do skits with kids reinforcing these messages. And after we did a few of those , uh , experiences for the air force aid society, they approved a essentially what was a , a contract or a commitment to have us do that for four years. And we went to air force bases all over the , uh , all over the world, primarily in the us, but to England, to Italy, to Turkey, to Japan. And then unbeknownst to me while we were doing this every quarter, Colonel Delaney was briefing the Pentagon on our work and the vacuum was getting from the, the basis and about, Oh, I don't know, a year and a half or two years into this. I got a call from the Pentagon , uh , Colonel Delaney didn't tell me or anything. So this was just totally out of the blue. And they said, is this Sammy the rabbit? I said, yes,

Speaker 1:

This is the

Speaker 2:

Pants that got on what the Pentagon and they were going to be doing what they called financial readiness campaign and financial readiness days on all military basis , army Navy, Marines air force. And it's going to be a whole day of workshops. Most of them are geared for the adult members, but they were going to have programs for the high school students, the middle school students. And they said, and for the elementary students, we're going to have Sammy the rabbit isn't that right? And I said , and you know , a lot of , uh , great people. They had people like , uh, uh, uh, uh, Susie Orman , uh, Dave Ramsey and , and, and various people, you know, based on whoever was available leading some of these workshops for our military service members. But we did all of the programming for the young kids. It's probably, you know , uh, one of the greatest things that's happened to me in my entire life. Being able to be of service to the people who are protecting and serving our freedom and their children who have, you know , very different lives, you know, they're very mobile moving from place to place, you know , um , many of them. And so , uh, yeah, that's , uh, you know , that's that , uh , story and that, that was the idea. And then since then , uh, what ha what happens is, what I've shared with you is we get these, you know , emails and letters, or maybe it's , uh, having conversations that confirm that getting the kids energized in many cases has an impact on the whole family.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. Well , I can see that. And it's so exciting just as an aside to hear , uh , the military doing something like that is because unfortunately service members are so often targeted by financial predators. Uh , so it's great that they're getting some, helping build some financial wellness. I mean, it's young people and, you know, so many military members are kids still.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yes. You, you, you hit the nail right on the head. This is why they had those programs. They've advanced them now and are almost , uh, I think in fact, probably on every military base, they have these , uh, family centers and a part of these family readiness centers. Uh, they offer various services, financial counseling, and coaching being one of them. They also have, you know , uh , how to get jobs. Uh post-military things like that. And one of the reasons they have them is the very point you made , uh , military members in general are young and they aren't preyed upon prey preyed upon. And , you know, it's kind of funny, one of the things we noticed , uh, being in a lot of these military Terri towns, excuse me, you almost know right away when you're in the house , because there's the , you know, there's always certain things there. And like for payday lenders, it's usually one side, Oh , we must be in a military military.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well, you know, Alameda is , uh, we're , we're, you know, as an old Naval town and there's still a huge coast guard presence, so we definitely get that vibe here. Uh, so I definitely see w you know, definitely see the same thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. They're , they're , uh, you know, kudos and congratulations to them. I think they were , uh , maybe one of the first enterprises or entities that really embraced , uh, financial education for its members, you know, early I started roughly around 1999. I'm not sure when the movement started. Exactly. But maybe in the late eighties, nineties, you had organizations like , uh, you know, Nephi , and maybe there were a few others. So was still at the forefront relative to where, what I'll call the movement has developed , uh, you know, today. And , uh, they were, they were already executing programs and, and realizing that this was a , an issue and they were addressing it.

Speaker 1:

That's great. You know, so, you know, a question for you, how has , um, you know, the internet and digital technology impacted how you're able to spread the word of Sammy rabbit and how do you think it's changing the financial literacy conversation?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's, it's changing a lot. I mean, that fin FinTech is a whole big , uh , movement. It is the thing that is, that is happening and it's financial literacy is a part of that, but , uh , FinTech is much broader than that. It applies to the banking systems, you know, mortgage lending, everything, it cuts across, you know , uh, everything and it, what it's done. Uh, we're we we've changed our business model. We're trying to be more of a , uh , of an internet online type of a company , a S a , a provider of resources, more than of services. We're still happy to go out and do experiences if people want us to. But what we're really trying to do now more is , is, you know, provide schools after school programs, military organizations, financial , uh , service professionals with resources and strategies, so they can disperse those or lead their own experiences. And the internet has made that possible. I've made, you know, hundreds, if not thousands of relationships, just like ours, you were commenting. This is our first well not in person, but first visual , uh , meeting. We've done all of our connection via LinkedIn and emails. And I have to tell you it's been a boom for me, and it's really helped us , uh, spread our message and get our resources out to more people, you know, then I would have at man , it would have imagined , uh, you know, trying to do all of that just in, and it's opened up enormous doors in terms of , uh , the , the types of people you can , uh, access. We've met a lot of , uh , wonderful people, CEOs , you know, of companies like a Schwab. And what I mean met , I mean, digitally, not necessarily video chats, but through emails or LinkedIn connections or Facebook. And , uh , you know, they taken an interest in our, our , our, our work and they're , they're accessible. So , uh , you know, it's been a big , uh , Boone , and then it's also been a big, I think Boone mostly in a good way. It's like everything comes with positives and negatives, but there's been an explosion with , uh, within financial literacy of people every day, somebody new and maybe multiple people, new are offering new ideas, new products, they all seem to be getting better. There isn't any reason today that anyone anywhere, almost anywhere, if you have access to the internet, that you cannot have access to good financial literacy, all you have to do is click it . It's there.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. Well , I think though, sometimes one of the dangers is separating that get information from the bad information. I mean, people talk it up .

Speaker 2:

Let me just say, and I think that is basic. What am I called ? This is where you have to be building these basic financial literacy skills. To me, this would come under smart spending, comparing and contrasting, you know , products or services. It's something everyone needs to be able, capable of doing whether you're buying groceries or trying to sort out financial literacy. Having said that there's a lot of good financial, solid financial literacy , uh, out there. And so one of the things, I think if you're probably young kids or young kids, and when I'm saying young, I don't mean 13. I mean, like three to 10. Okay. Wow. So, so somewhere, let's say around eight or nine years old, but definitely by 13, what you can start doing is asking your parents, all right. They, they're probably your number one for better or worse. They're probably your number one financial coach. So you, what , what you want to be trained to do, I think is to , I like to say, compare, contrast, and ask. So you could ask your parents, Hey, is this good information or not? And they may or may not know. And if they don't know, maybe they'll ask their advisor. If they have one, or maybe they'll ask their neighbor, you know, there's a lot of meetup clubs now. So it, it, I think it , you can get cha you could ask your teacher, you can get channeled into the right financial literacy fairly quickly. You don't have to be on the wrong path too long, but even if you're on the wrong path, I like the idea that you're, you're looking to sort it out. And , uh, at that age, you really can't make too many significant mistakes that aren't re re re reversible , uh, you know, while you're trying to sort out if you're on the right path or not, but I think there's a good chance you're going to get onto the right path fairly , uh, quickly.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's great. You know , um, one of the things that , uh , you know, I have , um, written about is the suggestion of with advisors and financial service professionals is having family financial meetings. Uh, is that a way that advisors and other members of the financial services communities could promote the concept of CME rapid is through family financial meetings?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I think that's a great idea. There's a lot of ways to do it, and that would be one , uh, you know, they can give out the resources to their clients, to their prospects. They can go out into the community to schools that have the , uh, school programs, the boys and girls clubs to YMCAs, they can get involved as they want. And I think what they're going to find, this has been the general feedback as it relates to the Sammy , the rabbit Sammy , the rabbit is very time efficient. So it sent me the rabbit. Uh, there's different ways to jump into Sammy the rabbit. But one we often recommend is through one of his stories or one of his workbooks. So we have resources for kids. Let's say three to five in general, parents and teachers need to determine, you know, where their kids are, are at. So some kids are ahead. Some are behind, some are right, maybe where they should be developmentally, but for the three to five-year-olds , we have color and trace books. We're very wealth building oriented and very language oriented. We're all, you know, we, we like, we want kids to be aware of the terminology in the words. So we have the saving alphabet. So you have all 26 letters in the alphabet. And then we've tried to mix in, you know, various financial words , uh, on all of the 26 pages. Kids can trace them. So they're working on their writing skills and they can call around . So they're learning the words. This is one of the first seeds . So we have, we have, we had the saving alphabet. We have a book just on Sabey and then in the saving book, the words come with the sentence. So you might have something like saving is fun or saving is a great habit. So it starts now planting an idea. We have one on earning, one on spending smart and one on giving wisely. Then when you get into the five to seven year olds, we have a book and a workbook called it's a habit, Sammy rabbit. It's a book you can read, it's a book you can call her. And then there's various other activities that you can do along with it. When you get into seven years and older or six, if you're reading that age, we have a call, a book called Sammy's big dream. And in Sammy's big dream, he , his big dream is to write . He has ILA must be dream . He wants to ride on the world's first daughter's space rollercoaster. And so in order to do it, this, his opportunity is through a class field project. He's going to need $300 to participate. So his parents say, Sammy , if we'll give you 150 a fair, but to earn and save the other 150 we'll we'll you , you can do it. You can go. And so Sammy does that. In fact, he earns and saves a little bit more. And so one of his friends comes up a little bit short, so he gives money to his friends so he can participate also. So there's a giving message in there also, and it turns out Sammy doesn't need to quite earn $150 because, Hey, guess what, Tony he's already been saving. So, you know, it's a little easier to reach your goals or to take advantage of opportunities if you're, if you're prepared. And so that's what that, book's all about. We also, we've just developed, this is coming out any day. Now, a program around that book that brings out these various messages besides saving and earning or great habits, also dives into goal setting into planning. So you can start building up on these message, building your kids' financial knowledge and capability. And then on top of all that, this works for any of our programs. We've developed that you mentioned one of the largest libraries of songs on money, like get in the habit. Let me just give you the, we sang this song all over the world, get in the habit. And this is our sign for habit , something you do over it , like Sammy rabbit, saving money all the time, Tony, you can do it now, get to it from every dollar, save a , save a dime. So that, that is a, just an infectious, contagious, catchy song with just a purposeful message that you can build around. And we have a song book for these 14 songs. We'd actually developed 25 and have a list of over a hundred more . We want to develop S a B E lemonade stand rainy day. Those all, we have all those right now. And then we have , uh , 10 activities for each one. They reinforce the concepts. They reinforce the language. You know, I was listening to , uh , an interview, Oh , about a month ago, maybe two months ago from a young man he's 27 or 28 saying Jeff Cruttenden, hope I'm pronouncing the last name correctly, but he is the visionary and create, or the acorns program, which is now CNBC , uh, invest in you initiative. I believe that's the , uh , initiative. And he was being interviewed and he was talking about his dad was an investment banker and talking about being nine or 10 and listening to his dad make deals on , uh, on the phone and various things that I think his dad was one of the founders of , uh , his name is Walter. Uh, uh, E-Trade he might've been one of the, as I say, founders behind that, but he would invest in a whole variety of companies, including like maybe cartoon or comic companies. And so that , that ground build to, to Jeff. So he started picking up some of the capillary, the language, things like , uh, like that. And then he was sharing one of the things his father did was open up a, a small investment account for him. And he said , you know, in fourth grade he can remember racing home to find out, you know , if the stock went up or down, and then he made the observation, this really resonated with me. I mean, all of that did as well, but even more. So he was saying when he was in college, he was , uh, noticing that kids, even in the finance and economics classes, that didn't seem like they would have 25 or $50 to in best. And that was part of it , inspiration for , uh, creating acorns, which is a platform where you can invest, you know, with very, very little money. But he, he said, I think you get more value out of investing $500 than say a fake 25 million or 10 million. Like a lot of these games are structured to do. And for me that hit the nail right on the nose. All right. That I think they have some value. So I don't want to say that they don't have any value, but I think that real money having that real statement, that is a game changer. And that's another thing that's different today is that you can invest in fractional shares and you can do it at a no cost to low cost , uh, very easily. And so that can be a very formative learning experience for almost any anyone.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's great. Well, you know, to start wrapping up , um, you know, do you have a favorite story you can share with us? I mean, you've had so much, so many different experiences. What's , what's your funniest most interesting story?

Speaker 2:

Oh, well not. He said funniest that throws a little a change to it, but, you know, I L I , I think the most important what I'll call some of the most important, I, I, I, it's hard for me to single out one, but , uh, the work we did with the air force that I, and the military that are already went, that, that it was just unbelievable. And the quote , I want to emphasize the quality of the people I met there. And in general has been, you know, made a tremendous impression on my mind. And I'm very grateful of four . We did some work with the university of Maryland extension that went over two years , uh , that was run by an adjunct professor. Uh, Megan O'Neill that won a national award. She won the national award for this work, but it was , uh , around our approach related to making financial education interactive and experiential and , and having music and , and these different elements to it, which at the time was a , a game changer. And then her peers voting her this national award that was , uh , you know, something that really stands out in my mind, participating in the , uh , uh , national book festival, Washington, D C three years of the library of Congress credit union brought us there to be a part of their , uh, their table. And that , that was an extra ordinary , uh, experience. I'd recommend anybody to go to that particular , uh, book festival Italia I'd experienced that , uh, brought me to tears. This was in a little town in San Saba, Texas. Uh , I think there's 1200 people there. The elementary school, the middle school, the high school are all on the same block. I met a woman named Sharon Pierce in , uh , she's from Austin, Texas. I first met her online and she heard our song get in the habit. And she was the state advisor for high school students, primarily high school students, also some middle school students, part of an organization that's in public school called family career and community leaders of America. And one of the things they have to do is they have to do school lead school projects. They're given a menu like don't do drugs or stop the bullying, whatever it might be. And in Texas at that time, this was, I think, 2007, they had something called ready, set, read, and , uh , financial literacy was becoming important, but it wasn't on the menu yet since we had a storybook and she was interested in getting the kids to become more financially literate, she said, I think kids are kids will respond to your approach to financial education. I'm going to put the word out there and see if any of them will adopt it. And several of them did including three ninth grade girls in San Saba, Texas. And one day I got a call from them and they said, Mr. Ray , we'd like you to come to San Saba, Texas and see what we're doing at the elementary school with your resources. And so then Sharon called me and she made arrangements and San Saba's roughly about two hours outside of Austin. I remember going to Austin and we drove out there for two hours. And these girls, once you do your community service project, the way the FCC LA is organized is they have a, an Olympic style competition afterward . But it's all based on oral reporting. You give a presentation on your project, how you impacted the community, and you start off at the competition, starts at the local level. If you win that, you go regional. If you win that, you go statewide. If you win that and you go national. And so they brought me out just before they were going to go national. They had already won the state title. And then they showed me what their present . This was before we were going to go visit the school they were bringing in the author . So that was a big thing, but that was going to be the following day. But the day before they said, may we show you the presentation we're going to be doing at the national competition? And I said, sure. And I started crying because this was something I had never envisioned high school kids taking our resources and bringing them to life in a similar, but different way than how we were doing it. And it just made me so happy and proud of the, the, you know, the work that we were uh , doing. So that that's a very memorable experience. And then just last year, this experience that you, we participated in together creating something called the first national dream, big read that , uh, Sheryl Garrett , just, you know, an icon in financial services got behind and supported as the 30 other people, professionals like yourself. This was for me another , uh, just a top-notch , uh , experience, all the people, just top notch, people who , uh , care about their communities, care about kids and families, and wanting to put them on the right track and, and buying into and supporting our, our vision. Uh , these are some of the top , uh, top memories. And I'm sure there's a lot of other ones.

Speaker 1:

Well , yeah. I mean, the , the work you do touches so many people on it . And I, I think it's so important because people oftentimes, you know, you , you had a point very early on is to not underestimate what kids can learn and understand. And I think people miss that is that, you know, you have to talk to kids like, are people, you know, I mean, to some degree they're not adults. And of course you have to, you know, remember that, but you also have to treat them like they're a person who can understand and have a conversation and make their own decisions and your will change so much. And I think that's the power of what you're doing with Sami rapid is your working with kids in a respectful fashion and not talking down to them. And,

Speaker 2:

You know , we, we got very fortunate the first time I went to read , and this was just a trial reading. We hadn't produced our book yet. Uh, the principal at the elementary school met with us afterwards, and she is the one who told me just what I shared with you. She said, Sam, one of the biggest mistakes parents and adults make is a underestimate kids' ability to grasp concepts. She said, if you assume that if you're able to explain it, they will be able to grasp it. It will change the whole nature of your relationship with children, your impact, and your ability to educate. And you know, what, we, we follow her advice basically. And I think she's dead on

Speaker 1:

That is a hundred percent spot on, well, you know, to , to wrap up , uh, where can people learn more about you and what you're doing

Speaker 2:

Well to no surprise. Our website is Sammy rabbit.com, Sam , your habit.com. That's S a M M Y R a B B I t.com. We're happy to talk to you. There's a lot of information there, but if you want us to talk with you, just , uh , fill out the contact contact form and we'll get ahold of you. And , uh, you know, in addition to providing the resources and services, we're big champions and advocates for , uh, financial literacy and capability and, and just education and learning in general. So we're happy to share our, what we've learned and we're happy to learn, you know, what you, you know, and try and serve kids and families.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, that's great. Uh , well , Sam, to , to wrap up is , uh, first of all, for our listeners , uh, all, all the links to Sam , uh, to Sammy rabbit's website will be on , uh , fortunately this is an easy website to remember, and the spelling is simple is , uh, will be in the show notes. But the other thing is I would like to say I had the honor of participating and Sammy's first big , uh , dream read . And I hope there's going to be a second one. Uh , but I would encourage all the advisors out there to think about participating in the second annual, is there going to be a second annual ,

Speaker 2:

Uh , right. It's on the board now we'll find out , uh , is it good ? Is it going to be second annual or second biennial ? That's the big decision, but we've targeted October, which is, I think national financial planning month as to when we want to pull this off, basically.

Speaker 1:

Well, I , I look forward to participating whether it's annual or biannually and , um, I thank you so much for joining me today. Sam, it's been a real, Oh ,

Speaker 2:

Uh , thank you, Tony. It's been a pleasure for me, a Sammy horrific pleasure. As we like to say, thank you for the work. You're the work you're doing

Speaker 1:

Well, you as well signing off. Thank you for listening to the, get ready with Tony Stewart podcast in partnership with insurance nerds, and please be sure to subscribe.