Friday, October 17, 2014

The littlest entrepreneurs: Money and teachable moments

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
October 16, 2014

Christian and his father shopping, downtown Kalamazoo (Photo by Susan Andress)

Stanley Steppes got his start in business at age 9. Now he's teaching children financial wisdom. Zinta Aistars reports. 

When 5-year-old Christian wants to buy his mommy a birthday gift, nothing is big enough or good enough. After all, Christian’s mommy is the best in the world. 

Shopping for mommy’s birthday gift with his father becomes an educational journey for the boy, and his father is ready to take advantage of the opportunity to teach his son about the concept and value of money. 

Christian today is 7, and his father is Stanley Steppes, founder and CEO of Financial Literacy Partners of America, with Money Smart Kids an educational initiative Steppes has founded to inspire, motivate, empower and educate children on how to become entrepreneurs and to grow up financially wise.

“My philosophy is that money is a tool to help us reach our dreams,” says Steppes. “Money Smart Kids is not just about teaching kids to save. It’s important to understand why, to talk about the purpose.”

Steppes has written a children’s book called Christian and Daddy Go Shopping, edited by Sonya Bernard-Hollins and brightly illustrated by Kenjji Jumanne-Marshall (who goes simply by Kenjji). Along with the book, Steppes sells colorful lunch sacks, T-shirts, greeting cards, a music CD, and kid-size wrist bands that read: “I am money smart.”

It’s all part and parcel of what Steppes calls a movement. Money Smart Kids isn’t just a business idea for Steppes; it’s his passion. 
“I want this to go national,” he says. “I want this to go global. Finances support our dreams. Financial literacy is life literacy. It’s a conversation we should be having every day.”

Steppes started his own financial career when he was not much older than his son Christian is now. He was a 9-year-old growing up in Kalamazoo, and he disliked asking his dad for money. There had to be a better way. 

“I bought some ..."


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