Hi everyone! Today I have the opportunity to present Darrah Brustein the author of ‘Money-Making Sunny’. Darrah has a passion to help children understand how to manage their money and is furthering financial literacy through her book. Her own parents taught her about responsibility from a young age with chores and an allowance. As a young adult she followed the principles they taught and was able to purchase both a car and a home. Be sure to check out the end of the article – Darrah is giving away two of her books so be sure to enter!
Me: Hi Darrah – tell us a little bit about yourself!
Darrah: Well hello! I’m a 30 year-old Georgia transplant who lives in Atlanta but grew up in Philly and Baltimore. I love to travel, do yoga, and take black and white photography.
Me: Other than being an author what do you do for a living?
Darrah: I guess you could call me a serial entrepreneur. I co-own a credit card processing brokerage (Equitable Payments) with my twin brother which we started in early 2009. We help companies who accept credit card payments from their customers to find the best provider for their business by shopping the marketplace for them through our brokerage of providers averaging 30% savings at no cost to them! Five plus years in now with clients in 37 states!
I also own a company called Network Under 40 that creates social and professional networking events for people Under 40. I love to be a connector of people so it gives me a lot of happiness to see other people make valuable connections!
Me: What did you learn from your parents about personal finance during your childhood?
Darrah: I was fortunate to have two parents who cared a great deal about teaching myself and my brothers about money. My mom is an entrepreneur and my dad an executive in the financial services world, so we were given a nice hybrid of perspectives. From a young age, we were taught about the value of a dollar, given chores and an allowance system, and were required to save half of our money in long-term savings and could use the other half however we chose. We also were taught about investing by working as a family to choose stock and/or mutual fund investments with a budget we were given. My parents even opened our eyes to the importance of giving back, no matter how much or little you have.
Me: What sparked the interest in developing personal finance curriculum for children?
Darrah: Ever since I was old enough to pick my own books, I was drawn to ones of personal finance. I was the kid on the beach in high school reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” while my friends read gossip magazines. After I graduated from college in 2006, I noticed that a lot of my friends were coming to me for financial advice, saying they were living paycheck-to-paycheck, even though they were making significant incomes. Soon thereafter, I watched the economy tank and I recognized that my friend’s concerns were actually pervasive elsewhere and that peoples inability to handle money was an epidemic. Having always been a student of personal finance myself, I knew that resources existed for adults. I studied the marketplace and learned that very few resources existed for kids, especially elementary-aged kids, and knew that the earlier you teach positive habits to kids, the better it will serve them in the future.
Me: Tell us a little about your book!
Darrah: I thought it was important to engage kids in a way in which they’re already familiar, and as someone who’s always loved to write, I sat down one summer day and 6 books poured out! I wanted to make the seemingly taboo and boring topic of money fun, I created a world of woodland creatures centered around 2 best friends- Sunny the Squirrel and Daisy the Deer. Throughout the stories, lessons emerge about things ranging from the value of a dollar, to working towards a financial goal, short and long-term savings, giving back, entrepreneurship, investing, sharing, temptation around money and the “mystery of the ATM”! In the back of each book is an appendix for the adult in the child’s life to use to institute the lessons into their home.
Me: Why do you think that some parents have such a hard time talking with their children/teens about how to manage money wisely?
Darrah: I think there are a couple reasons why parents struggle with this. The first is parents oftentimes feel ill-equipped to teach a topic which they know is not a strong-suit of their own. If they recognize that they are not well-versed in personal finance, it becomes a challenge to proactively teach your children about it. I also hear from parents that they think the topic is taboo and/or a burden to put on their children. Unsure as to how to regurgitate this type of material in an age-appropriate manner, they simply ignore it. This ultimately allows their children to learn by example only, which oftentimes isn’t a good example.
Me: What are your top three tips for parents to help them communicate with their children about money?
Darrah: My first tip is to start and not wait until you think you “are ready” or have a plan in place. Your kids are learning whether or not you’re intending to teach them, so start the dialogue and fine-tune as you go! Second, use moments in your day to stop and break down the financial lesson for your child. For example, if you’re running your credit card somewhere, stop to explain what is happening and the responsibility you have to pay that amount at the end of the month or you’ll owe more on it. When you leave a cash tip on a table, explain so your child understands you aren’t leaving money behind on accident. Or, when you’re at the ATM, help them to understand you aren’t getting money from a magic machine on the wall that has a secret pass code. Tip three would be to make it fun! Create an allowance system as a family and make it central to the household by putting it on the fridge. You can also decorate piggy banks (shoe boxes, jars, envelopes, etc) as a family and start the dialogue of short and long-term savings.
Me: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Darrah!
Darrah is offering two books to TeensGotCents readers today! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell if your parents helped you understand money management when you were a child. On Monday we will randomly choose two winners from the comments!
There is no doubt in my mind that parents are the key to helping a child or teen have an appreciation for and understanding of handling money wisely. Darrah has given some great tips here and also provided a great resource for parents to get the conversation going with their kids!