530: Introducing Kids to Financial Literacy with Julia Cook

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Julia Cook

Since April is National Financial Literacy Month, the timing couldn’t be better to have this conversation with Julia Cook, whose children’s books have sold over 3 million copies. Her latest book, I Am Money, helps children understand the value of money in fun and creative ways. I just gifted a copy to my nieces yesterday! 😊

Today, Julia shares the four key lessons every child needs to learn about money, and you’ll see that talking to your kids about money doesn’t need to be a chore. It’s a fantastic opportunity to help your kids understand how to create value, how to manage their funds wisely, and set them on a path of financial independence.

Most importantly, they’ll learn how to save and spend their money and use their wealth to positively impact the world around them.



KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Teach kids to do the right thing when no one’s watching
  • Teaching your kids about money starts with fixing your own money habits
  • How to show your kids they can trust you entirely
  • Why unexpected opportunities can lead to the greatest breakthroughs
  • Happiness is being able to share what you earned

 

AYG TWEETABLES

 

“If you have a valuable resource that other people can use and you can figure out a way to get that to them, then you are valuable.”

“If you want to have a good relationship with your child, you have to have trust. You have to have communication. And if those are violated, then your relationship will struggle.”

 

THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Organifi makes the highest quality nutritional products, which are made from whole food ingredients (not synthetic vitamins) that I enjoy nearly every day, and have for many years. Visit Organifi.com/Hal, and use the code HAL at checkout to get 20% off of your entire order. I hope you find something there that you love! :^)

 

Rise by CURED Nutrition is a natural supplement made from CBD, Lions Mane and Ginseng (among others) that helps boost energy, performance and cognitive function. There’s no caffeine, no jitters and most importantly, no crash. Visit CuredNutrition.com/Hal and receive 20% off of your entire order. They have tons of other products as well, hopefully you’ll find something that works for you. :^)

 

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Copyright © 2024 Miracle Morning, LP and International Literary Properties LLC

Hal Elrod: Hello, friends, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod. And if you have children in your life, meaning if you’re a parent with young kids, if you have nieces and nephews, if you are a grandparent, you’ve got small grandchildren, this episode is for you. I’m talking today with Julia Cook. She is a world-renowned children’s book author with over 126 children’s books written, over 3 million copies sold. She’s a parenting expert. She’s spoken at thousands of schools. She’s been featured on CNN, DrLaura.com, Yahoo.com, Parents Magazine, you name it.

And today, we’re talking about her newest book, I Am Money, and it’s teaching financial literacy to young children. And this is actually a topic that we touched on a few weeks ago with Scott Donnell, who created the book, the Value Creation Kid. That’s more for kids a little older. But I met Julia through my good friend, Garrett Gunderson, who is a New York Times bestselling author around finances, and he partnered with Julia to create this incredible book. And now, I don’t have young kids anymore. My kids are teens, but I did just buy copies of I Am Money for my nieces. I have five nieces, and so, I got one for each family. There’s two families there, my sister-in-law, her girls, three girls, and then my sister.

So, again, Julia, it’s phenomenal hearing how somebody goes from being– she was a teacher, a math teacher to being a world-renowned children’s book author. And of course, we’re going to talk about why kids need to learn about money. What do you teach them? How do you teach them at such a young age? And just a rich conversation with really, a parenting expert, if you will, and somebody who I’m really excited to be getting to know.

Before we dive into this episode with Julia, I want to take just a minute to thank our sponsor but in a unique way today. I want to talk about a very specific supplement from Organifi that I have recently started. I become, like, addicted to this. Now, they’re called Shilajit Gummies. Shilajit, if you’re not familiar, it is a superfood substance harvested from the very rock of the Himalayan mountains and it contains an abundance of trace minerals, antioxidants, organic acids, and nutrient-transporting compounds. It’s been used throughout history, and it can help you support energy production, support performance and recovery, support healthy muscles, promote collagen synthesis, support healthy hormone levels, increase cellular energy, decrease fatigue, and promote heart health. It really is a legitimate superfood.

And Organifi, I was so bummed because they ran out of these. They literally sold out of their gummies. I couldn’t get any for the last month. And finally, I was able to place another order. They’re addicting. The first time I had one, I was like, the taste was kind of curious. I’m like, I think I like them, but I’m not sure, they’re a little bit. It’s a new taste, I’ve never tasted this before. And now, I take them in the morning with my first dose of vitamins and I love them. I don’t know if– I take a lot of supplements and vitamins, so it’s hard to pinpoint if they’re the thing that makes me feel the way I feel in the morning, but they definitely help.

Again. I love the taste, but I don’t take them for the taste. I take them for all of those benefits that I just mentioned. So, I encourage you to try these out, Shilajit Gummies. That’s spelled S-H-I-L-A-J-I-T, Shilajit Gummies, pure Himalayan Shilajit. Check them out at Organifi.com/Hal, that’s O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi.com/Hal, and use the discount code H-A-L for 20% off your first order of Shilajit Gummies and check out the other products because I’m an Organifi fan. I use probably at least a half a dozen of their products every day from their Protein Powder to their Green Juice, the Red Juice, you name it. So, head over to Organifi.com/Hal and use that discount code H-A-L.

All right, without further ado, let’s talk to my new friend, the one and only highly acclaimed world-famous children’s book author, Ms. Julia Cook. Here we go.

[INTERVIEW]

Hal Elrod: Julia, it is such a pleasure to finally be face to face with you.

Julia Cook: I know, I’m excited. Finally, Hal. How are you?

Hal Elrod: Good. We have mutual friends, Brianna Greenspan, Garrett Gunderson. You and I have spoken on the phone multiple times. We’ve texted multiple times. And for full transparency, for anybody listening, we’ve text about doing a Miracle Morning for Kids’ book, which has been long requested. But today, we’re talking about I Am Money, your new book. And you coauthored this with Garrett Gunderson, right?

Julia Cook: I did, yep.

Hal Elrod: I Am Money, there it is. If you’re watching, I Am Money: I Don’t Grow on Trees for the full title. And Garrett is also a good friend. He’s been on the podcast, I think, twice. And he and I spoke at an event that he was putting on here in Austin, Texas a year or so ago. And he said, “Oh my gosh.” And I said, “What’s your latest project?” He said, “I’ve partnered with one of the best children’s authors in the world.” Yeah, so you’re blushing, I see you blushing, right? But you’ve sold over 3 million children’s books, right? I’m not exaggerating there. Yeah, 3 million, that’s incredible. And you have 126 titles?

Julia Cook: About that, yeah. And they all do the same thing. They teach a life skill in seven minutes. You know what I mean?

Hal Elrod: A life skill in seven minutes. So, this is money. What are some other life skills?

Julia Cook: Not to interrupt, My Mouth Is a Volcano, Baditude! is bad attitude. Awesome Dawson Has Big Emotions, it teaches him how to control his emotions and they have a purpose. And so, The “I” in Integrity, teaching kids to do the right thing when no one’s watching. So, you put really good stuff in a children’s book and you read it to the kids. The great stuff will spill out into their heads when you take the book away.

And kids come to us all the time. They want us to wave our wand and solve their problems for them. But if you do that, they might live with you in their 30. So, you want them to solve their own problems, but they don’t come with instructions. So, if you read them a story with great people skills in it, then they can learn how to wave their own wand and solve their own issues.

Hal Elrod: I love that. And it’s planting those seeds when they’re– right? The younger the better. I think as a parent, my kids are 14 and 11, as I was telling you earlier, and there’s so much, I think for all parents, like, oh man, I should have done this differently. Oh, I wish, I should have thought of that. And I think that what you do, it’s such a beautiful purpose that you’re instilling these values, these lessons, these paradigms, these ways of thinking for kids. And yeah, I love the examples that you just gave.

Julia Cook: They have to be fun and they have to be kid friendly and they have to be first person. And the kid wants to learn about that thing. So, the research base models positive parenting strategies and positive teaching strategies in a fun storybook.

Hal Elrod: Got it. So, I want to know this, I mean, so 3 million copies, 3 million books sold is rare air for an author. That’s number one. Number two, becoming a published children’s book author, that’s a dream for a lot of people. That’s a challenge. So, I want to go back to the beginning, like how– or not the beginning, but how did you get started as a children’s book author? How did that come to be?

Julia Cook: It was a total accident. I was a middle school math teacher turned elementary counselor. And in order for kids to really grasp a topic, they have to see it, hear it, feel it, do it, and then teach it to somebody else, those five things. And so, I could not figure out how to teach my kids not to tattle. And I had a really good grad teacher who said, if you read books to kids, they’ll let you in their head, in grad school. And so, I look for a book on tattling, couldn’t find one, wrote a story in about 2005, and used it with my kids and just wrote a story, first person, about a kid who tattle. They got a tale. It turned into tattle tongue.

And that book, a teacher came in and she goes, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got to do something with this.” So, I called the publisher and they said, “Send it in.” And then they said, “Do you have any others?” I say, “Well.” They said, “We want to publish your book. Do you have any more?” I said, “How much do I have to pay you?” They said, “We’ll pay you.” And I dropped the phone. Then they said, “Do you have any other books?” “Well, when I was little, I used to interrupt all the time. I interrupted so much. My babysitter said, ‘Julia, your mouth is a volcano.’ So, I have that one.” Then they said, “Send that in.” And that’s when it started, 3,000 school visits, a lot of teacher staff development, a lot of counselor staff development, a lot of parenting talks, and a ton of reading to kids those stories. So great story.

Hal Elrod: Wow. It seems like most people that are doing this amazing work or outside-the-box work, it happened by accident, right? It’s like, you didn’t plan it. Michael Singer has that book, The Surrender Experiment, where when you just surrender, the universe or God or life has bigger plans for us than we could plan for ourselves. And so, that is such a cool story. Now, I don’t know if I missed this part. How did you contact that publisher again? How did y’all get connected?

Julia Cook: It was back before they had a lot of books on great people skills, on the soft skills. And so, I actually looked in the front cover of the book that I used with kids, and there was a publisher’s number there. And we called them. Oh, my goodness, this is 2004, 2005. And then the books came out in 2006, and I just started doing school visits and talking to people. You know how brands are, they’re like a wave and they get really big. And then at the top, they either spill over and everybody knows about it or they go back out to sea. So, there were many years where it just kept going back out to sea, and then it spilled over. And now, I believe Julia Cook Books are used in about 80% of the schools in our country and worldwide, so they’re everywhere.

Hal Elrod: Wow. Congratulations.

Julia Cook: I call this [inaudible] about something in there like, “Oh my gosh, you wrote this. We use that.” So, it’s kind of fun.

Hal Elrod: That is so cool. And there’s such an important lesson in there for anybody listening that proactively, when you weren’t a published author, you called a number in the front of another book of a publisher, right? I think that’s such also– so there’s two lessons that I’ve gotten so far from this. Being that we’re on the Achieve Your Goals podcast, I always try to extract those lessons, and the first being that, very often, it’s unexpected opportunities that arise that lead to our greatest breakthroughs or success or opportunities.

But the other one was, it’s not that you sat back and waited for publisher to show up. You actually just randomly cold-called a number out of the front of the book. And for all of us, even if you don’t want to write a book or be a publisher, it’s taking that outside the box, out of our comfort zone action that leads to a result, right? You’re not going to get anything if you don’t at least give it a shot.

Julia Cook: Right. Books don’t just fly off the shelf and say, “Read me.” You have to give them out there. So, it was a lot of grassroots talking to parents and talking to kids and going into schools. But the thing is, if you have a valuable resource that other people can use and you can figure out a way to get that to them, then you are valuable, which goes back to the I Am Money and I Don’t Grow on Trees, we tell kids that money always chases value. So, you have gifts, gifts to share. Like, I didn’t write the tattle book to make money. I wrote the tattle book to help kids in classrooms, but teachers valued that. Therefore, they started to buy it. I mean, because kids will say, “Oh, I can’t afford that,” and in this book, we teach kids, you never say, I can’t afford it. You think, what can I do to create another value that I can earn the money to be able to afford that?

And so, it’s a whole mind shift because we live in a country where they don’t say, “Oh, Hal, you’ve made enough money this year. You can’t make anymore. Sorry. You’re done.” It’s a land of opportunity. It takes creativity and hard work. And working with Garrett Gunderson has been amazing because he sees money through crystal clear eyes that very few of us have and it’s just intriguing.

Hal Elrod: Yeah, Garrett’s a brilliant financial mind. In fact, where is– I think I have one of his most recent books on the shelf.

Julia Cook: Money Unmasked, right?

Hal Elrod: Money Unmasked, that’s the new one, yeah. He wrote Killing Sacred Cows, which was a real game changer for me. And I love that he is taking this to children because what makes Garrett special is not his investing tips and tricks. I mean, he’s taught me those as well, but it is the way that he looks at money. It’s the way, like you said, it’s value creation. It’s looking at it in a way where Garrett has created extraordinary financial abundance in his life. He is a recognized expert on that topic. So, with that said, why is this– and I think you’ve answered this a little bit, but why is this book, I Am Money, so important for kids? And there’s another part to the question, what ages, what age range is this book ideal for?

Julia Cook: Okay. Well, this book is written in first person and money is the main character. I Am Money and I Don’t Grow on Trees. And so, that makes it applicable to kindergarten basically through fifth grade. Third, fourth and fifth is a great target age for the story because what it does is it stirs up a whole bunch of conversations that parents can have with kids about money, and they learn the basics in the book in a fun, creative way. And it was kind of funny because I was in an airport and I overheard this guy talking on his phone, and Garrett’s voice is very intriguing. And so, you kind of eavesdropped, and he was talking to his book agent, and ironically, I ended up sitting next to him on a plane and I said…

Hal Elrod: Well, if that’s not meant to be, I don’t know what it is.

Julia Cook: Yeah, “You’re an author.” And he goes, “Yeah, this is I write. I’m Garrett Gunderson. I write money books.” And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I had Killing Sacred Cows.” And I was a little…

Hal Elrod: Oh, did you really? Nice.

Julia Cook: Yeah. And then I said, “Well, I write books, but I write books for kids.” And he said, “Oh, my sister’s a teacher.” And so, he texts her and she uses my books in her class. Anyway, he goes, “I’ve always wanted to write a book on money for kids, but I don’t speak kid.” And I said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to write a book on money for kids, but I don’t speak money.” By the end of that plane ride, we had decided to work together and he would give me his important money things that people need to know and kids need to know and I would spin it into the story. And that’s how the book got created.

But can you imagine, Hal, if we teach our kids now to be financially literate and smart, the amount of decrease in anxiety, depression as adults these kids will end up having, and the more contributions to mankind and goodness they can provide? I mean, a lot of our anxiety and stress as adults is linked to lack of or inability to manage money. And so, this could be a real game changer. I love reading this book to kids who don’t come from a lot of money because they realize, “Oh my gosh, money’s just value creation.”

And one little kid, he made electrolyte popsicles and sold them at baseball games and made $5,000 in the summer, and one kid made bath bombs with his mom and put little fizzy stories, I have all kinds of entrepreneurial stories. I have a kid in my neighborhood. He cleans my dog poop up out of my yard for 20 bucks a week. And he takes 20 yards, so that’s 400 a month. And then he takes the poop to the garden center and gets paid for the poop. Now, that’s a poopy job, but man, they can, and I don’t have to do it. And he’s valuable to me. Therefore, I pay him for his value.

Hal Elrod: How old is he?

Julia Cook: He’s 10.

Hal Elrod: Oh, 10. Okay, yeah, my son is 11. What are the biggest takeaways from this book do you feel?

Julia Cook: The four things kids need to know about money – earn, save, spend, and give away, most important. Earning, there’s a lot of ways to do that and we talk about that. Saving, instead of saying, I have to save money, how about I get to pay myself 15% first? I get to pay myself. And when you save, you save in a clear jar so that you can watch– some people like to put me inside of a dark pig. I don’t like that because I can’t see out. You can’t watch me grow. And then the…

Hal Elrod: The dark pig. It took me a second to get that.

Julia Cook: Saving money for a rainy day because then you, as a parent, I tell the kids when I talk to them about this book, I have a little neighbor kid, and he threw a rock through my window. And I love this kid. And the last thing I want to do is him to get in trouble. He didn’t mean to, so I said I’ll just pay for it. And so, I went and talked to the window guy and he wants 700 bucks to fix it.

Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.

Julia Cook: So, I thought, well, it’s through my insurance. Well, then they want $2,000 a year on my premium to fix it. So, I had to pay the $700. But if I didn’t have money saved, how would I do that? So, you never know what’s going to come your way. And that’s just your buffer zone, your insurance policy to make sure that you’re okay. And then spending, we talk about, don’t buy things that you don’t need.

I remember one of the things, my mom came home with purple rubber boots that were only a dollar. And they didn’t fit anyone in our house, but they’re only a dollar. Now, most people would buy one pair or two, but my mom bought 17 pairs of purple boots that no one could fit. And when I cleaned her house out, I still found five pairs of those ugly little boots. And we talked to kids about, if you don’t have enough money for it right now, wait and figure out how you can, it’s not going anywhere. They feel like, “Oh, please, I have to have it now.” So, responsible spending in a way that helps them and adds to their lives.

And then the coolest part ever is giving. Because when you give, things happen to you, you feel so much better then. Yeah. And I show them I have a monopoly $20 bill, and I cut it up. And I say, you have four corners, that’s four points. And if I give a slice to you, then I end up having five points. And I give a slice to you, I have six points. And every time I share my money with you, I grow in Julia points. But if you give and give and give and give and give, there’s nothing left. So, you have to make sure that you take care of your own, your basics, your housing, your food, your clothing, your entertainment first, and then you give after you’ve taken care of your needs. Because sometimes, we get another thing where we give where we don’t have, and that’s resentful to us and everybody. But the giving part is just that being able to do things for people is just amazing. Amazing.

Hal Elrod: Make sure I got these four right. So, the four are earn, save, spend, and give, right?

Julia Cook: Right.

Hal Elrod: And yeah, I think that for my kids, I’m trying to teach them these lessons. And actually, my son this morning, maybe it was because you were on my mind, but I said, we were talking about money, and he’s so sweet. He came up to me and he said, “Dad, I heard you and mom want to take all of the grandparents out to dinner, but I was hearing it’s going to be expensive.” And he’s 11. And he said, “I want to give you guys $100 to help you guys pay for the dinner to take the grandparents out,” right? And I said, “You don’t have to do that.” And he said, “No, I want to do that.” And he said, “I have X amount of dollars saved.” And I said, “Yes, Halsten. And I love this. I love how generous your heart is,” I said. But at the same time, there’s this thing called money burns a hole in your pocket, which means that when you have a bunch of money, you just think, oh, it’s going to be dull to spend, spend, and you start thinking about things you could spend it on. And if you do that, all of a sudden, now you have no money left over.

So, yeah, I love that this book– I just ordered a copy of this book actually this morning for my nieces that are coming into town tomorrow. And then I’ve got another copy. I already ordered for my other nieces. Tomorrow’s my sister-in-law, her kids are coming into town. And then I’ve got my sister as well. So, why do you think…

Julia Cook: Well, sometimes, parents don’t want to talk to their kids about money because maybe they’re terrible with it. How am I supposed to teach my kid about money when I make all these mistakes? Well, you are your child’s best teacher, and you can use those opportunities to teach them what not to do. I mean, right now, look at them, they have stellar credit. So, how do they keep that? And how do they balance?

You need to let your kids experience why you can’t just pay for it with your phone. Well, where does your money come from? And show them a check register actually how it deletes it every time or pull up your bank account and show them how it pulls from that. And if you use a credit card, it’s not your money, it’s the bank’s money, so you have to pay more back. And they have to see these, like they said, they have to see it, hear it, feel it, do it, and show it to somebody else. And so, your child might want to say, “Hey, I want to buy this.” You say, “Well, I don’t think you have enough money, but you go try and if you still don’t have enough money, then you come back and we’ll talk about it.” Because if you just say, “Oh, you don’t have enough money,” that makes no sense to them.

And if you go with your child to the cash register, they’ll look at you, like, “Hey, you chump, pay for this,” right? Because it’s your kid, and that’s how you’re, “You go try and I’ll be back here,” and you watch your child the whole way. And then you say, “If you don’t have enough money, let me know.” And if the clerk looks around and there’s no parent, they’re going to say, “I’m sorry, you don’t have enough money for that,” that is a priceless gift for a child to feel.

And they don’t get embarrassed if you set it up right and they don’t feel humiliated. They just realize that it used to be so easy because you pay for something and get it. And now, we pay. You touch your computer and it comes to your house or you pay with a phone. So, our kids need to see the bones behind that. So, they need to see, okay, look at this check, $1,400. I only get $959 of it because it went to taxes. And this spurs on conversations for kids because we don’t know everything about money, but somebody knows more than we do. So, we always talk about it and we always learn from it.

And if you want to have a good relationship with your child, you have to have trust. You have to have communication. And if those are violated, then your relationship will struggle. That’s any human relationship. So, if your kid ever asked you a question that you have no idea how to answer, you say, “Wow. I don’t have the words right now for that. But I’ll look it up, and you and I will talk again.” And then you come back and talk to them. You don’t have to know all those answers.

But this book really stirs up a lot of positive conversation when it comes to money. And I interviewed about nine millionaires, not Garrett, but everybody else, nine that I could think of. Two won the lottery, four inherited it, and the others earned it. And I said, “When you have money, does it make you happy having all this money?” And I got the same answer, Hal, from all of them, “Once you buy a nice house, a nice car, good clothes and you entertain yourself, the only thing that money does to make you feel better is when you use it to help others in creative ways.” I mean, it was just like unanimous. That’s where the happiness comes is being able to share.

Hal Elrod: Yeah, I love that. And you handle all four corners, all four points in the book. Where can our listeners get a copy of I Am Money?

Julia Cook: Amazon. If they want an autographed copy by me, at JuliaCookOnline.com. There’s a list. If you go to buy books, there’s a list of all the titles and topics, and it’s on there as well. It’s a great month to get it because it’s National Literacy Awareness Month for kids. So, that’s kind of a good fit. Thanks for having me on this month.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. National Literacy Awareness for kids, I thought. Yeah, it made sense that this was the month that we have you on.

Julia Cool: Yeah.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. Cool. Julia, thank you so much. Thanks for what you do. I mean, honestly, I want to pause real quick and slow down and just really sincerely thank you for the impact that you have made in millions of kids’ lives, millions of human beings’ lives, who potentially and obviously, there’s no way you can even know the impact or the ripple effect of the work you’ve done, but you’re doing the work. You’re putting out these books with themes that are invaluable for kids, the values they need to learn. So, thank you for the work that you do.

Julia Cook: What’s a little interesting of that is the first one came out in 2006 and how we talk to kids changes every year. When that first one came out, I got a time-out. And now, it’s my teacher had me go sit in the quiet corner and think about it. So, when books go to reprint, they are always adjusted a little bit so that they’re available to all our kids in the day. So, if you ever find something in Julia Cook Books that you do not like or don’t agree with or it said wrong and I’ve made a mistake, which I make a ton of them, I really always consider my books as works in progress and I also want them to grow with people. So, that’s cool.

Hal Elrod: That’s great. Yeah, 10 years ago, you get a time-out, 50 years ago was you got smacked in the butt with a wooden paddle, right? So, the times have definitely changed and will continue to do so.

Julia Cook: Exactly. I mean, I have a book called Cell Phoney. But when I started, I would have never thought I would need that book. And now, it’s so needed.

Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah. Now, sadly, yes, it is. All right, well, goal achievers, if you have kids or you have nieces and nephews or you have grandchildren, any or all of the above, check out JuliaCookOnline.com. Get a copy of the new book, I Am Money: I Don’t Grow on Trees, which, by the way, Julia, I did find that when you search on Amazon, if you type in I Am Money: I Don’t Grow on Trees, since that’s not the official subtitle, it’s important to know, it didn’t come up. I couldn’t find it.

Julia Cook: No, just I Am Money, right?

Hal Elrod: Just I Am Money, yes. So, if you’re searching for this on Amazon, look for I Am Money. But yeah, I would say go to JuliaCookOnline.com and get a signed copy of this for all of the kids in your life. All right, goal achievers, I love you so much. And until next time, make it a great week. I’ll talk to you soon.


[END]

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