John Lanza and his wife recognized early on that they had very different money personalities. After becoming parents 16 years ago, they agreed they wanted to raise money-smart kids, and they wanted to find a way to make it fun. From there, they created The Money Mammals, where John serves as Chief Mammal.
The Money Mammals is a cast of animal characters who sing, dance, and talk about financial literacy. Their mantra is “Share & Save & Spend Smart Too!” The Money Mammals has been licensed to credit unions across the country and has also been adopted by many schools.
“We read to our kids from day one. The theory being emergent literacy. The same applies to The Money Mammals—it is emergent financial literacy. Kids gain exposure to positive money language to become money-smart and money-empowered,” explains John.
The Money Mammals Framework includes:
- Setting and saving for goals
- Distinguishing between needs and wants
- Making smart money choices
To practice this framework, John recommends starting an allowance at age 5. He suggests giving the child $5 per week ($6 for a six-year-old, $7 for a seven-year-old, and so on. He has a different approach for older children). Allowance is then divided among three jars—the Share Jar (for charitable giving), the Save Jar, and the Spend Smart Jar. Parameters are set that include $1 must go in the Save Jar, and $1 must go in the Share Jar. John suggests that allowance is a tool to help children develop money smarts; therefore, it should not be tied to chores.
John also talks about the impermanence of stuff. He believes the sooner kids realize that purchases do lead to long-term happiness, the better. With their children, John and his wife institute a waiting period for large purchases. If something is over $50, the child has to wait one week to make the purchase. If the item is $100, he/she has to wait two weeks. This is designed to help navigate needs vs. wants.
Are your own thoughts about money getting in the way of purposefully teaching your kids to be financially smart?
It’s totally normal to think you don’t “have it all together” or “are not smart about money” or “don’t know where to start” when it comes to raising financially smart little ones. If this is you, I can help—it’s one of my favorite things to coach on. I have tons of tools to help you understand your own relationship with money, so you can best help your kids develop a healthy relationship with it too. Let’s talk!
In this episode:
- Meet John Lanza (1:40)
- About The Money Mammals (4:00)
- The Money Mammals Framework (7:55)
- Learning as parents (10:50)
- John’s allowance guide (16:30)
- Consumerism and the impermanence of stuff (26:10)
- Money as a tool, not a goal (30:40)
- Top tips for teaching needs vs. wants (34:40)
- Making saving fun (47:30)
- How to find John and The Money Mammals (53:30)
Resources from this episode:
Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig
Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michale Norton
Meet John Lanza
John Lanza is on a mission to help families raise money-smart, money-empowered kids so that they can live happier, more fulfilled lives. To that end, he has written The Art: Of Allowance, along with three other children’s picture books. John is the creator and Chief Mammal of The Money Mammals, an award-winning DVD and youth savings account program for credit unions nationwide, all built around the core Money Mammals Mantra.: “We’ll Share & Save & Spend Smart Too!”
John’s mission began with a simple question “How can we raise our kids to be money-smart?” He and his wife quickly realized that financial literacy was vital not only for their own six-month-old but for all families and The Money Mammals were born -a pioneering program to get kids excited about becoming money smart.
Then The Great Recession hit. It further underscored the need for financial literacy learning for all Americans and it provided the backdrop for John to begin testing out the basic tenents of what would become The Art of Allowance: A Short, Practical Guide to Raising Money-Smart, Money-Empowered Kids with his kids now sixteen and fourteen. With so many families falling prey to the dangers of our
consumer-oriented society. John found that his message was resonating, including the importance of teaching kids the impermanence of stuff, the things we own. Because children are targeted at such a young age with messages to spend, it’s now clear that parents should start early in order to raise money-smart, money-empowered children.
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