Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

This is Capitalism: Up Close, Inspired, Explained

Oct 27, 2021

Patricia O’Connell interviews Mac Gardner about FinLit Tech. They discuss Mac’s two books, and how his career in financial planning led him to write these educational books and start FinLit Tech to promote financial literacy for children. Mac discusses the lack of financial education in the American education system, the tremendous cost to society of financial illiteracy, and the role parents can play in providing financial literacy for their children. He explains the educational offerings he has in place and planned roll-outs for children and adults.


Listen in to learn more about FinLit Tech and teaching financial literacy.

Key Takeaways:

[:22] Patricia O’Connell introduces Mac Gardner, Founder of FinLit Tech, a company that uses the four money bears (Save, Spend, Invest, and Give), to teach children financial literacy.

[:50] Mac Gardner’s first book was Motivate Your Money! The book shared wisdom Mac had gathered in over 20 years in the financial industry. One of Mac’s clients then asked him to write a similar book for elementary school children. He did so and called it The Four Money Bears, using bears to teach about spending, saving, investing, and giving.

[2:28] The book is about a family of bears, Papa, Mama, and the Baby Bears, with Papa teaching his children the four functions of money. It is the story of Mac teaching his children to manage money.

[4:40] To introduce investment to students, Mac holds up a $100 bill and asks how they would use it. After the students talk about what they would buy, Mac asks if they knew they could use it to buy the companies that make the things they buy. He introduces the concept of reward and risk and the potential of growth by investing in stocks.

[6:38] A child’s first concept of giving may be of giving to a family member. Parents may teach children about giving to a church. Mac placed worksheets in the back of the book giving examples of giving money to different places and people. There will always be someone in need, and we can give money or give time to help them.

[7:39] Mac talks about the example his businessman father was to him growing up, and how he learned about the uses of money. Mac has worked with many people who had plenty of money but little understanding of personal finance, including the difference between permanent insurance and term insurance.
[8:44] Only 22 states require students to be taught financial literacy by high school. Mac saw a lot more could be done and wrote The Money Bears to help meet that need. The curriculum requirements vary by state.

[9:28] A Cambridge study shows that a child’s connectivity with money starts by age seven. A child of seven can understand the conversations Mom and Dad are having about money. The first habit a child picks up is their parents’ spending habit. If schools aren’t teaching financial literacy until late in high school, that’s a 10-year gap.

[10:32] It has been very challenging trying to get this book into public schools. Most of Mac’s success with the book has come from grassroots efforts. A few years ago, eMoney, a large fintech company, connected with Mac to collaborate on CFP® CE courses for financial advisors across the country.

[12:01] Elementary teachers and students are using technology. There is tech available to help you use your money, but not a lot of tech that teaches you what to do with your money. FinLit Tech builds a bridge between financial literacy and financial technology. They consult with different fintech companies interested in educating their clients.

[13:09] Mac is working on developing a multimedia financial education platform from his book, Motivate Your Money, incorporating videos, interviews with fintech and financial services leaders, and gamified options for financial education for adults.

[14:42] Mac is working on The Four Money Bears Go to Bank, introducing additional characters and principles of banking, credit, and the hierarchy of financial needs.

[16:23] A 2018 statistic showed that the cost of financial illiteracy to our society is in the billions. There are so many people in our society that aren’t getting this education, and it perpetuates their sad financial states. If a parent never learned financial literacy, how can they teach their child? The Four Money Bears is a way to start the conversation.

[18:25] Mac likes to hear about children starting to connect with specific bears because of their own habits with money. Parents tell Mac they like the worksheets and how they help teach the principles.

[20:00] Mac expects to have the children’s app with the Bearberry Farms entrepreneurism platform, online by the end of 2021.

[20:35] Mac shares links for more information.

[21:03] Patricia thanks Mac for joining This is Capitalism: CEO Stories.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Mac Gardner
FinLit Tech

Motivate Your Money!: Plan, Spend, Save, Invest, Gift, by Mac Gardner

The Four Money Bears, by Mac Gardner
Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children, by Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham, University of Cambridge