Episode 24 — Strengthening the Financial Seeds of Tomorrow Through Financial Literacy — With Guest Kirsten McDaniel

What financial advice do you wish you could give your younger self?

At Youthentity, children and teens are learning the important financial literacy lessons we all wish we had learned a little sooner.

Today, Danielle Howard is joined by Youthentity Executive Director Kirsten McDaniel to explore the great impact Youthentity’s “I Am Financial Knowledge” program is having in the Colorado Valley, and how their program works to empower youth around money.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Youthentity focuses on helping children and teens achieve financial serenity
  • The key principles taught in the “I Am Financial Knowledge” program
  • How participants in the program are rewarded through “earning for learning”
  • Why having financial literacy is so empowering for youth
  • And more!

Tune in now to learn about the impact financial literacy can have on the lives of youth and their financial futures!



[00:00:02] Welcome to the Wealth Done Differently Retirement Podcast. Danielle Howard a certified financial planner shares insight into the financial tools techniques and temperaments needed to make the most of your retirement dollars and relationships. Danielle bridges the gap between Wall Street and Main Street bringing complex financial topics down to earth. Danielle will educate and inspire you as you define and refine your version of prosperity.

[00:00:35] Hello and welcome to Wealth Done Differently Retirement with Danielle Howard a Certified Financial Planner. Today Danielle has brought in a guest again. And I’m so excited. So I want to introduce Kirsten McDaniel. and Kirsten McDaniel has been the executive director of Youth Entity since 2006. Mission of Youth Entity is to help youth build successful futures through financial education and career readiness. The I Am financial knowledge program was born out of a collaboration to bring financial literacy to fourth graders at Crystal River Elementary in 2010 and has been empowering Valley Youth around money ever since. She and her husband Jerry moved to the RFV in 2001 after retiring from the chemical and plastics industry. She feels some of her free time pursuing an A-S in culinary arts. So we have a lot to talk about today. Good morning ladies how are you.

[00:01:26] Good morning. Thank you.

[00:01:28] All right Kirsten I’m excited. Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for being a guest today. But I’m going to switch over to Danielle real quick Danielle. You brought Kirsten in today and I know that you actually got involved with Youth Entity. How did that start.

[00:01:43] I was invited by a girlfriend to help out with their youth Chef program. I love to cook. I love being in the kitchen. I love kids. Seemed like a good fun thing to do.

[00:01:57] I’m not an overly big baker and this was you know getting into had to do some really technical baking and so I thought what a great opportunity for me to do what I love get involved with kids and probably definitely learn a lot. And I was introduced to youth entity through the culinary arts aspect. Once I got involved with that and got a lot of flour all over my hands face and the rest of me I found out they had a financial knowledge program and met with her son learned a little bit about what she had gone there. And I’ve been very actively involved ever since it now. It’s just such a fantastic program that speaks to the you know preparing kids for real life in so many ways that it was a perfect fit for me to get personally involved in and financially involved.

[00:02:58] Well I’ll tell you what you’re braver than I. Because I’ve got a dear friend. They have three little boys and they came over and helped to bake cookies one day. And I know where their hands have been the cookies. I I couldn’t do it. I have a low gag reflex and I just watch them I’m like Yeah I’ll pass on those cookies for now so that that’s that’s awesome that you have the bravery to do that. And Kirsten again thank you so much for being here Daniel. I’m going to turn it back to you again. Just go ahead and take over and let’s get this party started with Kirsten.

[00:03:32] Well we’re entering April right here. This podcast will probably air mid April so we are well into financial literacy month.

[00:03:41] And it’s also social security awareness month so April is a big money month and I thought it was real appropriate place for Kristen to come in and share some of the work that is happening with youth entity and the I AM financial knowledge program. And I’m hoping that we can start with talking a little bit about the feedbacks. The program’s been going on for over around ten years now eight years eight years and you have impacted how many kids and what kind of feedback do you get from the kids from their parents and from the community.

[00:04:22] As Danielle said we

[00:04:23] I mean we started gosh I don’t know eight years or so ago with Crystal River Elementary School. And at that time it was a pilot program. So I probably had maybe 40 kids enrolled in the program and it was really kind of our friends and family youth entity experience where we’re pulling upon all kinds of people from the community including I think everyone who worked at the carbonyl branch at Alpine bank to actually jumpstart this program. And since then it’s grown to serving about 1300 kids across the community in five different counties so it’s really grown a lot. I think I think a lot of the feedback that we receive obviously from teachers is that first of all it helps them meet their academic standards that are required by the state of Colorado. So there are personal financial literacy standards that they do need to meet.

[00:05:15] But our program goes well beyond this I feel like it’s really a program that helps kids to learn that they can tell their money where it needs to go.

[00:05:27] I think it’s something that Danielle likes to say as opposed to wondering where all of your money went. And that personal financial literacy is not just a mystery topic that is just for people who are smart and in the mind of a fifth grader or people who have graduated for college or rich people. It’s a very simple formula that we can teach kids on how they can manage their money well and be proactive. And as a result you know basically have what I like to call financial serenity. Serenity is not a word that they’re familiar with. So we talk about well what does that mean is a sense of peace knowing that you can have enough money to pay your bills that you have some money saved up to help a pet who needs a surgery to help out another family member or to do something that’s important to you.

[00:06:21] Regardless of what that is and to me that that’s really the the basis of what the program is about.

[00:06:29] I think you touch on the feeling that that people get out of it. And I know when I’ve attended various fundraisers and you’ve had kids speak to what they’ve gotten out of the program or maybe even had the parents come up and talk and it is about creating that awareness of it’s about choices. You can you can make choices in a variety of directions and what are those choices based on. Something else I really appreciate about your program as you do try to connect the kids with with their their value systems and you have said we had some conversations about what’s truly important to you about you know making these financial decisions. You’ve got to. You’ve got a great staff you’ve been growing at year. Like you said you’re in five counties now. Yes. Wow. It’s just you there. You’re going online. We’ve got a lot of really exciting stuff happening will you share with Stephanie Staley your new program personal finance programs manager and there’s some things that she’s putting together to kind of look at I AM financial knowledge. What are you calling at version 2 iteration 2.

[00:07:42] Hardly any of those which fit. Yeah version 2.0. Yes Stephanie Staley joined us in October of last year. She’s a very energetic young woman. As we were connected to her through a friend of a friend so to speak. But I think what’s kind of unique about Stephanie is her dream job is to teach kids personal financial literacy which is an unusual combination. She actually majored in finance and college and minor in nonprofit management and then since moving from the east coast was working at a credit union and Danver and so when became when we became sorry connected you know basically we’re giving her the opportunity. I think in a way to fulfill her dreams which is to help kids through financial education. So Stephanie’s biggest charter I would say right now is to grow the program. I’ve challenged sure to grow the program by an additional 1000 students over the first course of her year of employment at youth entity and she’s on track to do that. And then we’re also going back and revisiting a program that’s been in place and we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of mileage out of it. But also looking at ways to make improvements to the program especially with integrating activities for kids that are more physical in nature not just brain activities. And then we’ve also put together an LMS which is a learning management system so that the program could be available online let’s say for remote districts and then something that we’ve also been doing successfully for a few years now is kind of a kit for teachers so sometimes teachers will go through the program where the story you’re too and they’ll be like you know what. We’re ready to take this on now and we actually provide them with all the materials that they need and the teachers become then part of our facilitation team and we pay them you know a couple hundred dollars in terms of cash award that they can spend personally or in their schools or be part of our facilitation team. I guess we call it trained the trainer.

[00:09:55] Hey. So right now you’re primarily have volunteers from the community there will come in and facilitate the program in different schools. And so what you’re saying is now this kit is being put together to where you can at the teachers teach it as a part of a course curriculum.

[00:10:12] Yes. I mean some counties where we have been present for several years and there’s been a really low turnover with the teachers a lot of those teachers are using kind of the train the trainer or the teacher kit.

[00:10:24] We started primarily with volunteers that has changed tremendously because I would say 80 to 90 percent of the people who facilitate for youth entity are paid. They’re paid employees are youth entity. And the reason is that schools have a lot of challenges they have a lot of material on their plate that they have to get through.

[00:10:46] And it’s really a gift of their time that they’re giving us and if they say well we can fit you in one hour a week for six weeks or we’d like you here all week or in larger schools were there four days for four hours. We need to be able to accommodate those schedules. And so it really kind of morphed from being a volunteer driven in the very beginning when we are much smaller to now where serving a couple thousand kids a year.

[00:11:14] We need paid people who can help us make that happen.

[00:11:20] You are now bringing in paid facilitators and you have a lot of other expenses with your programs. How are you guys Funded? youth entity.

[00:11:30] And a lot of ways is similar to other nonprofits we rely on grants and individual donations from the community. I think the support from the individual community is very very important because even grants grantors want to provide and support nonprofits who are supported in their own communities. If you’re not it makes it less likely for you to get a grant. But we also offer another program for people to financially support our financial literacy programs. And that’s through our sponsorship program. So we receive a tremendous amount of financial support from Alpine bank as an example and other community banks who choose to sponsor classrooms at individual kids at either five twenty or forty five dollar level. And in return for that they get a variety of benefits. One of the things I think the banks appreciate the most is that for each kid that goes through our program a letter goes home to the parents in Spanish and English letting them know that this program has been provided by youth entity where their child has learned and by the way have they’ve earned their check. That’s something we need to talk about here. The other part is then you know the sponsor’s logos whether it’s a bank or whether it’s a stockbroker or financial adviser their logo appears on all of those communications that go home to the parents. So the parents actually see what entities in the community are actually helping to make this possible in their schools.

[00:13:03] You mentioned the checks that go to the kids. Tell us about that. That’s a that’s been a fun part to see them work through.

[00:13:11] It is fun and it’s something we’ve been doing for the very beginning.

[00:13:16] One of the ways we measure the effectiveness of our financial literacy programs is we actually pre and post test the kids so the students take a test on what they’re about to learn before they take the program and then they take a test at the end of the program. A lot of kids grouse about taking tests these days they take a lot of tests. But in our program the post test has become like the crowning moment of the whole program because we actually pay students 50 cents for each question they get correct.

[00:13:48] Up to fifteen dollars per student for fifth grader or an eighth grader and up to 17.50 per student for a high school student. So we like to call it earning for learning. And one of the reasons we do it is not just to get them excited about the program but one of my goals is to give each student some money that regardless of their familial situation they could go home and they have some money to jumpstart their savings or they’re investing because one of the key principles we teach in I Am financial knowledge as a 10 10 10 70 principal which means for every dollar you are earning or perhaps you’re given through a birthday card you should save 10 percent share 10 percent. Invest 10 percent and then spend 70 percent. And part of that that goes hand in hand is the concept of pay yourself first and this is where most adults really mess it up. The idea is that you don’t go and make up your budget and spend 100 percent and say well I don’t make enough money to save or to share or to invest. Pay yourself first means you take your earnings. You move that 30 percent aside and then you design your lifestyle around the 70 percent and that’s a huge lesson that our entire society has missed. And that’s something also that we’re trying to help kids not just understand but by taking home their very own paycheck. They had the money to start practicing that principle and building good attitudes and behaviors towards money and helping them to manage their money skills. Because I can tell you and Danielle can as well these kids are very in tune to the happenings of their household relating to money whether they’re spoken or unspoken they’re highly understood and we learn a lot about that through stories the kids tell us through the program but also as adults our personal experiences. If you grew up in a money or sorry household that was short on money or had money problems. That sense of tension is felt in the family and as much as adults like to try and keep things from kids. They’re not successful in doing that.

[00:16:17] So we’re trying to bring kind of a healthy attitude set of skills and a healthy set of behaviors to kids so that they don’t repeat those lessons they’re learning in their household if they are negative but they in turn are really empowered to create their own life relative to money in a very positive way.

[00:16:38] You know I think this is so much why I resonated with your program and that I’m doing so much of this type of work with adults and the stories the money mindsets the the family history that teaching financial literacy to adults. It might mean something completely different especially as they’re moving towards their rewirement, refirement, encore years. But it’s you know the stories either need to they’re either serving you and working for you and you want to build on them or I talk to now 55 and 6 year old that there are many stories still can have a negative impact on them. And I love the fact that you guys are getting kids to talk about their money stories and bringing things out into the light that they can explore it a little bit and maybe rewrite it earlier or sooner or later so we’re not dealing with some of the same issues down the road. I greatly appreciate that you guys incorporate the giving component into the you know 10 10 10 and you’re sharing that idea of a gratitude and when you appreciate what you have it flows you know it’s more likely to flow through you. I so enjoy watching the kids faces and I mean I’m I teach adults I coach adults and when I have done the volunteer experience in the schools seeing the kids faces light up when they start getting the stuff has been you know very it makes me feel really good you now that I’m able to share a little bit of you know whatever it’s my story or my perspective on all of this. So are you saying that you’re no longer. Do you still have volunteers that are coming in and teaching at the school how can people help you guys out?

[00:18:43] We do we still have volunteers and so I think for people who are interested in volunteering they just need to contact us at youth entity which is 9 7 0 9 6 3 4 0 5 5. And ask for Stephanie Staley I think one of the biggest aspects to being a volunteer would be having a flexible schedule. The other one is just the willingness I think to go through the training and to kind of embrace being in a classroom. So you do not need to be a professional teacher or a professional classroom manager. Those are what they actually teach you. Professionals do. But we will equip you through our training on how to effectively deliver the program. And personally for me the more storytelling you can bring to the program the better. I share with fifth graders all the time. The stupid money mistakes I made but in a context that they will laugh but they’ll understand.

[00:19:43] So for instance you know having a credit card and charging clothes and food my credit card and after two years I still haven’t paid that off so I’m paying for an outfit that I no longer wore and I said I’m paid for a meal that I digest 249 days ago. So that’s really not a very good decision or even something that happened to me in the last five years as an adult. I kind of became addicted to these really yummy coffee drinks and in Carbondale. And it got to the point where I went every day before work. Then I started driving out of my way on Saturdays and Sundays. They are five dollars &  15 cents. One day I literally got in my car after buying one of those. I got a calculator out of my glove compartment and the car and I added up how much money I was spending in a year on that coffee. And there’s something very empowering about and this is so simple analyzing your spending. And when I saw that was over 2000 dollars I’m like. Nope I’m done because there’s so many things I would much rather do than 2000 dollars then to no offense, Give it to a local coffee shop. And I think that if more adults and even kids could do that it puts it into perspective how much money you’re actually spending on something versus you know I was just two dollars or I had a 20 dollar bill now I have two dollars left well I might as well spend another two dollars is just two dollars. That American mentality. Perhaps it’s not American But the mentality of money just being disposable almost is I think really hurting us as a community.

[00:21:31] A community as a society and as a world you know. So it’s about bringing back in the intentionality. And it’s interesting. Now we’ve talked about it before the how the brain chemistry works and that’s a whole nother podcast. But you know the idea of when you make a financial choice that brings pleasure it releases the endorphins and that kind of builds on you and your whole coffee story speaks speaks to that. And how do we capture those thoughts. How do we capture that moment and turn it around to be more mindful about it one that coffee drip probably had a few added calories to it. Yes. Didn’t necessarily want to make that choice. But I think that you know that impact of understanding not only from the financial context how that choice plays out long term just because we have the money. Should we make this choice or what does that choice. What is the consequence. Down the road if I if I make this choice I can’t make this choice I can’t spend it in a different way and have the kids get that early on I think is one of the most empowering things that we’re able to do with with I AM financial knowledge program and and reconnect them to that their financial decisions can reflect what is truly truly important in their lives and as they make more money to keep mindful of that and bring it back to you know core values and the importance of that.

[00:23:07] Now that intentionality. I’m excited to see what you guys you know continue to how this plays out and over the next year and and again is you’re building something bigger than yourself that it will continue on that you are planting seeds in little minds that are going to blossom and be be very very powerful. I know that when I’ve talked to whether it’s parents or teachers a lot of times so be a teacher that’s standing in the room. And they’ll go wow I never got this when I was growing up or the parents will say I wish we had this kind of education when I was you know in school and I you know I think the power of what you guys are doing is again going to be felt the ripple effect will be felt for many many years to come. I’m honored to be involved in your program and look forward to my continued work I need to look at new opportunities to do that now with what you are talking about and you shared what’s your Web site address? It’s youthentity.org. And that will list out you know some of the other folks on your staff that may be able to help with if you want to financially give to either use entity. You know they’ve got it again they’ve got several different programs under the umbrella or if you want to focus on specifically the I Am financial knowledge program they’d love to talk to you about how you can how you can get involved. We have a really fun fundraiser in the summer the pig roast which has been one of the fundraising highlights of my summer for many many years and I’m sure you guys have it coming up again. When is it going to be this year.

[00:24:47] The pig roast this year is Thursday June 27 at the Aspen Glen Club and also through our website you can purchase tickets so we’d love to have you come out. Learn more about our organization and frankly just enjoy a lovely party.

[00:25:02] It’s a beautiful evening. Thank you for your time. Kirsten. And if people want to get a hold of me to continue a conversation about you know what it means to have

[00:25:13] A healthy financial life as you move into and through your retirement years. You can contact me at WWW.wealthbydesign4u.com. I also have some financial affirmations and a monetary manifesto that you can find at W W W Danielle Howard. Number 4 letter U. Dot com Appreciate your time today Kirsten and we will chat soon. Thank you very much.

[00:25:44] Kirsten Thank you so much. I have one question where were you when I was in junior high and had a paper route and way too much money I was talking about the broke. Yeah I just I think about if I knew then what what you’re telling me now. All I know now. Boy I’ll tell you I just don’t want to look back on my lifetime of donuts. Finding and see what that could purchase me now. Although Donut dollars that I spent over my lifetime and I could probably buy a car or at least a small car.

[00:26:16] I don’t even talk to the kids about you know they might look at me as someone who knows it all or something like that. You know I’m in my mid 50s and have been successful in my careers and what I explain to them is that this is knowledge for everyone. It’s not just knowledge for a certain group of people. And I do tell the fifth graders that what they’re learning now is are things that I did not know as a 30 year old. And by that time I had spent eight years of bringing in a pretty high income for a person my age and I basically had nothing but debt. And so I think that Danielle said it earlier but I really feel like there’s only one word to describe this program. It’s empowerment. I think that’s really important to me and a couple of little stories I was up at a Snowmass Rotary and we were presented with a grant check. And one of the Rotarians came up to me afterwards and she said both of my children went through this program and she said for both of them was the first check that they’ve ever received and when they brought it home they said you know Mom what do I do with this check. And she said we’re going to go to the bank and open up a bank account which is something we teach the kids how to do in the program. So even a lot of kids regardless of their social economic position in life which is through their families don’t necessarily have money that they’ve actually earned and that they can actually go and open up a you know a bank account to get started on their own. And I remember one year after we did the program and rifle probably a month later we got a check in the mail and Danielle mentioned about the importance of giving and I really try to broaden their perspective of what that means. It could even be short term savings so that you can help someone down the road. It doesn’t have to be immediate giving when you’re that young but a young boy had sent in a fifty dollar check to youth entity. It was basically his birthday check that he receive from a grandparent that he had endorsed over to us. Wow is this form of giving. And you know I’ll never forget that. And another couple of kids had played some instruments out you know on the streets of basalt and collected money and brought it back as their way of giving back to youth entity for their financial literacy program Larsen. So we are having an impact. Unfortunately we always don’t hear from the kids directly until we see I’m an eighth grade but I can tell you I was working. I’m working right now with a group of several boys and several other industry professionals in a construction program and one of the boys remembered going through the program as an eighth grader. And I said how much money did you earn. He said 14.50 cents. So that has been imprinted in his mind he remembers it remembers. He remembers the experience and how much money he earns. Well yeah so you never know.

[00:29:19] Yeah I think that’s fantastic and and honestly that’s why I love working with Danielle because you said the word empowerment. That’s how she does with her clients. Absolutely she gets it. And so that’s something that we’ve discussed and it’s funny because Danielle and I have definitely shared our own mistakes. I believe mine was leasing a minivan.

[00:29:39] I didn’t do that as a teenager.

[00:29:40] You know I did that as a full knowledgeable quote unquote adult. So I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much for being a great guest and Danielle thank you for bringing her in. And I know I don’t want anybody to wait to reach out to you Danielle but June 27th in Colorado sounds fantastic to me especially having her come out for the pig roast. Exactly. You’ll you’ll you’ll see both of them at the pig roast but before then between now and then reach out to Danielle and her team and get the conversation started because empowerment is what she’s all about and that’s what we’re going to try to get done. Thank you again guys I appreciate it.

[00:30:15] Thank you Aric.

[00:30:16] You made it easy. And thank you all for listening to the wealth done differently retirement podcast with Danielle Howard. If you have not subscribed to the podcast yet please click subscribe now button below. This way when Danielle comes out with a new podcast it will show up directly on your listening device. This makes it much easier to share these podcasts with your friends and family and if you’ve got friends or family members with kids that would fit this group the youth entity group definitely share this podcast with them it’ll be an eye opening experience and they’ll be a lot of fun for them. Again thanks for listening today. For everyone at wealth done differently retirement. This is Aric Johnson reminding you to live your best day every day and we’ll see you next time.

[00:30:54] Thank you for listening to the Wealth Done Differently Retirement Podcast click the subscribe button below to be notified when new episodes become available. The information covered and posted represents the views and opinions of the guest and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Wealth by Design LLC. The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional investing advice.  Always seek the advice of your financial adviser or other qualified service provider with any questions you may have regarding your investment planning. Danielle Howard, Certified Financial Planner is an investment adviser representative of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors a registered investment adviser. Securities offered through Cambridge investment research Inc. A broker dealer member FINRA SIPC Cambridge and wealth by design LLC are not affiliated.



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