Q&A with Okeoma Moronu Schreiner, The Missing Money
What inspired you to write a book series for children to help them understand the concept of money?
I developed an interest in personal finance while paying off multiple six-figures of student loans and during that time I also had the pleasure of becoming a mother twice over. Like most mothers, I suppose I wanted to find a way to share my interests with my little ones and quickly learned there aren’t a ton of age-appropriate picture books that tackle modern money concepts. It’s, of course, important to just learn the basics of earning or saving money, but I wanted books that were set in a more modern context with banking apps, credit cards and online banks. Basically, I wanted to create a book that would help children understand the concept of money in a way that reflected the world in which they would be growing up.
The books are beautifully illustrated. Why was it important for this to be a picture book?
As a mother of two little ones, ages 3 and 5, there is nothing more precious and impactful than those moments spent together lost in the pages of beautifully illustrated picture book. I firmly believe that it is never too early to start introducing these basic money concepts but I wanted to do it in a way that would engage and capture little imaginations.
How did financial literacy for young people become a passion of yours?
Before I was a personal finance junkie, I was an elementary school teacher. I guess you could say that I’ve always had a passion for translating seemingly complex concepts into fun, educational content.
What advice do you have for parents interested in starting these financial discussions with their children?
Do it early and often.
Why is it important to start these money talks with your children at a young age?
The earlier you start these conversations the more comfortable you’ll be having them throughout the many seasons of parenthood. Truth is that the conversations will only get tougher and tougher as your children get older so you want to develop the language and comfort before it’s too late. Your children are internalizing “stories” and beliefs about money that may not be true and have the potential of impacting their financial lives forever. If we, as parents, don’t help shape those stories and beliefs, our children will create their own.
What are some concrete steps parents can take while their children are young to start their children out on the right financial path?
Take the time to involve them in your everyday money decisions. Whether it’s choosing between two products at the grocery store or choosing not to spend on something in order to save for a bigger goal, children will benefit from understanding how money decisions are made in everyday situations.
Speak to them about in values, not figures. In our house, our kids know that the environment is very important to us so we’ll pay more for a product that is more sustainable and/or eco-friendly. Help your little ones understand your family’s values and how your money supports and reflects those values.
Teach them contentment. This is a hard lesson that can take a lifetime to learn. In order to get your little one off on the right foot you can lead by example, help your children practice gratitude and teach them the value of giving.
What are some of the financial terms that you encourage parents to teach their children?
The first five basic terms that little ones should understand are:
• Earn – Discuss that money is earned through an exchange of goods and services. Sometimes when we’re out and about we’ll play a game called “who is at work?”, where my children try to point out people who are “at work” and try to guess how they earn their money.
• Save – Explain why it is important to save towards larger goals instead of spending money as quickly as it comes in. I would recommend using a clear money jar so little ones can see a visual representation of their money growing.
• Spend – Spending wisely means not just spending within your means but spending in alignment with your values. Teaching your kids about spending is a lesson in understanding what matters and making intentional decisions.
• Give – Help your little one develop a charitable heart and discourage a scarcity mindset. It’s also crucial to teach your little one how to let go and get rid of things they no longer need or value.
• Invest –This is the one most people struggle with the most but little ones should be introduced to the idea that there are things you can do with your money that can put more money back in your pocket!
How do you think being confident with money at a young age helps children as they grow into adulthood?
For me confidence doesn’t mean knowing all the answers. Confidence means believing that you can tackle any challenges that come along the way. By instilling in your child a sense of confidence around money topics, your little one will grow up to be someone who will explore money topics with a confidence that they are able to learn what they need to know to build a financial abundant future.
The book also highlights a diverse group of characters. Why was that an important focus for you as well?
We all know there is still a lack of diversity in children’s literature. As a woman of color raising biracial children, I wanted to create characters that reflected their reality. All children and families deserve to have access to books in which they are represented. It is also an opportunity for all children regardless of race to see examples of people of color managing money and doing it well. There was no way that I could write a book without this being a priority!
Ultimately, what do you hope parents and children take away from the Money Monsters series?
That money conversations don’t have to be scary!
About the Author
Okeoma Moronu Schreiner is an attorney, wife, mother, and host of the nationally recognized, Happy Lawyer Project podcast. Now as an author, her goal is to guide parents in helping their children navigate the seemingly stressful wide world of money. The inspiration for her new children’s series, Money Monsters, stems from her own experience as a struggling young lawyer who had seen first-hand the difficult situations created by financial problems. Schreiner is an advocate for early education of finances and wants parents to instill comfort and confidence in their children regarding money issues.
Connect on Instagram: @finkidlit