It’s the season for overspending and it’s got Brian Kallback, the Director of Financial Planning & Wealth Management at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, worried—not only for his own two kids, but for children in general.

“I see how my eight- and 10-year-olds are constantly bombarded with marketing messages and social pressure that equates spending money with happiness and satisfaction. Growing up feeling as if money and toys equate to happiness and success is dangerous.  What happens when our children reach that point where they realize they’ve been chasing a dream they’ll never reach?” Kallback asked.

To combat the constant consumption drumbeat directed at kids, Kallback and growing cadre of advisors and financial professionals across the country are putting their time into teaching childhood financial literacy in schools, social clubs and their communities at large.

Their weapon of choice? The Sammy Rabbit books (, written by Sam X Renick, a former financial services executive who created the series around a child rabbit who dreams big, creates a plan and successfully saves to achieve his goals.

That message resonated with Sheryl Garrett, the renowned founder of the Garrett Planning Network, who is championing a Sammy initiative with financial advisors across the country to distribute 2,000 copies of “Sammy’s Big Dream” in classrooms, doctors’ offices and even churches in 2019.

Getting out in front of childhood financial illiteracy is a heartfelt mission, Garrett said. “Of over 1,000 people I've surveyed, they all said they wished they would have started earlier. So we've started at the kindergarten level and are working up from there. The message in “Sammy’s Big Dream” book is the same for all of us. Get clear on your dream, figure out what you need to do to accomplish that and get started.  In high schools, we're working with the older students to read to younger students.  They all have fun and benefit for the wisdom so delightfully shared in the Sammy way,” Garrett said. She personally makes sure every student she reads to has a copy of the Sammy book.

Renick said he authored “Sammy’s Big Dream” and the other books and teaching tools in the Sammy series after working in financial services. “What a lot of consumers shared with me is regret and despair at having not started to save and invest much earlier in their lives.

“The most important thing you can teach kids is the importance of savings and delayed gratification, setting goals in addition to making better spending decisions,” Renick added.

In Sammy’s Big Dream, Sammy the rabbit's class wins an essay contest and is given the opportunity to ride the world’s first outer space roller coaster. The catch? Each student will need $300 to pay for the adventure. The book shows Sammy and his classmates’ illustrated journey to prepare for success, including the steps they take to work, save and finally to succeed. The book also teaches savings for savings sake and generosity. One student is $25 short of the $300 needed and because of Sammy’s good habits he is able to gift the money.

“Out of the womb, kids are becoming indoctrinated as consumers and not even smart consumers. By the time they’re teens, they’re inundated with debt and have already developed poor habits,” Renick said.

“You really need to start educating kids around age two or three, making them aware of the language. Teach them that ‘savings’ is a very good word. Read them a story. Have them start dropping coins in a piggy bank. Play store. Have them make choices at the grocery store. Take it a step at a time,” he added.

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