Million Bazillion Academy, Week 2: Saving

Jed’s treehouse needs repairs, but it’s gonna cost more than he has right now. Saving money can be tough — and even tougher to talk about! So this week on the show we’re gonna get the conversation started and learn a few ways to think about spending and saving our money. We’ll sit down with some experts, do some mythbusting around saving and hear from a young Dollar Scholar who’s got a unique way of keeping track of her savings. Plus, singer Natasha Bedingfield’s got a cheeky idea for a twist on the piggy bank.

Listen to the episode above or click here to play in your podcast app! Here’s the transcript. After listening, click here to download this week’s worksheet. More discussion questions and links after the cartoon.

A four-panel comic depicting a young ghost saving money. The first says "Set up two jars, one for saving and one for spending." The second shows the ghost looking at a picture of a treehouse, and it reads "Picture what things will look like when you get the thing you're saving for." The third says give yourself a treat or reward every time to reach a milestone." Finally, the last says "Tell you friends and family about your plan so they can help you stay on track."

Money talks

Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going. Answers are at the bottom of the page!

  1. While Jed’s been trying to save money for repairs, who’s been camping out in his treehouse?
  2. Jed spent some of the money he was saving on a new ice cream-making scooter. When you have a choice of spending your money on different things, there’s the dollar price you pay for the thing you choose — and there’s another cost. Do you remember what that’s called? It’s the thing you missed out on because you chose to spend your money on something else.
  3. Saving money is hard, but there are good ways to practice. Do you remember what the “jar system” is?
  4. Finally, let’s practice future thinking. Think about something you’d like to save money for, and write a little story about what your life will be like when you get it. The better you picture your goal, the more you’re likely to save for it. 

Tip jar

Talking to kids about spending and saving isn’t easy. When the time comes to start saving, it helps to already have some goals in mind. Here are a few tips we heard from other folks we consulted for this episode:

Amanda Krische at the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, a bank for kids in Colorado, said it helps to have kids differentiate their shorter-term goals (things like new school supplies or clothes) and long-term goals (a new bike or even a car or college tuition). “Write it down on paper — or draw it,” with the time frame spelled out, Krische says. The bank has more activities and resources here

Sonia Brown, a teacher in New Jersey, likes to use resources provided by her local chapter of Junior Achievement. She says she encourages her middle school students to create a budget by adding up the money they have coming in each week and then breaking down what they need to spend it on and what percentage they want to save. For big-ticket purchases, like a new pair of sneakers, she asks them how long they’re willing to wait — then she has them break down how much that means they’ll need to save each week. “A lot will say … OK, I can wait two months to get my sneakers,” Brown says.

Finally, an additional resource for grown-ups. For more context on the wage gap, we recommend this widely cited 2018 study from the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development: “What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap.”

Money Talks answers

  1. Squirrels and a ghost
  2. Opportunity cost
  3. Set up two jars — one just for spending and one just for saving. Every time you get some money, immediately put some of it in one jar and some of it in the other.
  4. Answers will vary

That’s it for this week of Million Bazillion Academy! We’re here to make kids and their grown-ups smarter about money. Did someone send this page to you? Click here to enroll in our free email newsletter course!