When I think about growing up I didn’t have anyone to tell me about money management,how to use money or to save money. How was financial literacy presented to Paul at a young age? Her home was like most family homes. Her parents are immigrants who migrated to this country and she was taught money does not grow on trees. You have to get an education and work very hard to just get a quarter or half of what someone else might have. So, though her parents didn’t directly talk to her about money she feels they indirectly spoke through their examples. Paul was with her grandmother quite a bit. She had her own seamstress company, she still does to this day, for over 40 years. This is where Paul observed her grandmother interacting with customers and taking care of money and doing bank runs and putting the money away. She took Paul to the bank to open an account for her and she remembers having this booklet where you saved your money.
Paul feels her parents showed her you do have to put money away for a rainy day. That’s very important. Her dad did one thing she feels all parents should do: he got her Visa bucks. Visa at the time had these Visa bucks debit cards. It was strictly for teenagers, and middle schoolers, and he loaded it with her allowance and she used that money for the things she wanted. However, once that money was gone, it was gone. This showed Paul you have to work to earn an income and then once the money is gone, “don’t put things on credit when you can’t afford it.”
Paul became aware of how young people handled money through her own experience as a college student. Even though she had great examples growing up, “I lost my mind in college.” she said. The good thing is she knew how to work. She had been working since around fourteen as a DJ. “I knew how to work. I knew how to make a dollar. I just didn’t know how to save or invest.” At one time she was working three jobs. She was making money but she was also spending money. For example, she did Spring Break twice in Europe. Then she found herself in student loan debt and she found others around her with student loan debt as well. She asked the questions: what’s wrong? Why is this happening? She started doing research and found through the Council of Economic Education more than one in six students in the US do not reach the baseline of proficiency when it comes to financial literacy. Nearly a quarter of millennials spend more than they earn. And 67% of Gen Z have less than three months worth of emergency funds. Whatever we learned as kids will translate into adulthood. And so if you don’t learn anything as a kid, you’re going to make a ton of money and then spend a ton of money. In order to change the direction of your financial future, you will need to make sacrifices. Because Paul was working on getting out of debt, she began to help her friends. They began telling others but then Covid hit. That’s when Paul thought, “all these kids are at home, who’s talking to these kids about money? This is the perfect time.” Paul works with ages five through eighteen as well as adults. Her books are primarily for ages five to nine, but she has helped as young as four. She worked with twins who budgeted to save over $300 after reading A Boy, A Budget, and a Dream and she has worked with people at the age of 80 who are trying to figure out retirement.
There is a financial workbook that Paul has written titled The Wealth Playground Workbook: A Financial Literacy Activity Workbook. The wealth playground series came about because Paul loves history, spelling and English. She has found when it comes to financial literacy and money, it’s so intimidating and scary for people. “I wanted to make the World’s Playground fun because money is fun.” says Paul. “Learning about money should be fun. It’s a part of you and it’s a part of your journey.” Paul wanted it to be fun for kids. And so the Wealth Playground is a series of different life skills. The stories are about a group of kids who are just trying to have fun so she has Joey, who is the main character in the first book. He is the brother to Cass, who is the main character of the second book. And so there’s several other characters throughout the series, but it’s to teach kids that it’s okay to have fun but it’s also okay to manage your money. There are exercises from a Boy’s Budget and A Dream. There’s a goal setting worksheet at the end of the book. There’s also multiplication that is within the story and supplemental workbooks available.
Paul shares with parents that it’s never too late to discuss money. She finds that parents do not want to share with their kids about money because they themselves are not great at money. But she thinks it’s important to share because kids are going to make the same mistakes you do. She’s finding in her research a lot of families are desiring to leave generational wealth, and legacy. They want to pass something down to their children. And Paul says, “really focus on your situation. Your kids have an opportunity to grow up and they will live their life and be able to have a job and work and build their wealth.” She goes on to say it is important for the parents to figure themselves out about their retirement and about their legacy planning, understand what it looks like for them, and then have that conversation with your child.
Paul has visited several schools and organizations, whether it’s virtual or in person, where she talks about the book, and then does exercises from the book about financial literacy and helps the kids understand what it means to save, set goals and grow their money. Financial literacy comes down to having more conversations about money. There may be sacrifices in order to get your finances in order. Show children by example how to save and invest. Open an account with their allowance and teach them how to save and spend without overspending. Lastly Paul shares that there is no magical time to start learning more about financial management and education. In her workshops people always justify not getting their finances in order. She has heard their finances are okay, I’m just going to wait until I get my money right or they will wait until they get their new job. Those excuses will not work. It is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. You will see it’s about discipline. It’s all about doing those small habits of financial change over and over until it gets to the point where you don’t even think about it.
Learn more about Jasmine and her books at thewealthplayground.com