For Freedom students, a penny saved is a lesson learned

BRANDON QUESTER/WTE Sam Renick, author and founder of The "It's A Habit!" Company, Inc., talks with students from Freedom Elementary as Rachel Bylow, 10, stands nearby. Renick explained the importance of saving and spending money wisely in an effort to be financially responsible.

CHEYENNE - So when should parents talk to kids about money?

Try this: Put a quarter and a dollar bill in front of your child. If the child picks the dollar instead of the quarter, it's time to start the conversation, said Sam Renick.

When youngsters realize the dollar is more valuable, they're ready to learn how to save.

That can happen to kids between the ages of 4 and 6, he said.

Renick is an energetic man who travels the country (and parts of the world) to get children interested in saving money.

"Saving is a great habit," he told students Monday at Freedom Elementary, adding that a habit is a choice you make over and over.

"For every dollar, save a dime," he told them. Or "save 1 out of 10 again and again."

The Airman and Family Readiness Center at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and the Air Force Aid Society organized his visit with help from a donation from Warren Federal Credit Union.

Rinick's friendly pitch carried the excitement of a tent revival or a pep rally before the big game. Kids got involved in the animated question-and-answer session.

The California man has written two children's books about saving money. One, called "It's a Habit, Sammy Rabbit," is about a rabbit named Sammy who touts the benefits of saving.

"Saving is a big problem, nationally and globally," Renick said. Kids aren't being taught how to save.

Advertisers start to reach children as soon as they're born. Parents who wait to talk about saving until their children are teens waited too long, he said.

On Monday, Renick asked children questions about money.

"Would you rather have a penny a day doubled for 30 days or $100,000?" he asked.

The example with the penny is the best choice, because it would end up being $10 million, he said.

Renick worked in financial services for 12 years before he started It's A Habit! Company Inc. about five years ago.

People told him they wished they'd started saving when they were young, which prompted him to come up with something.

The company offers a 10-song CD with tunes about savings. Numbers like "Debt Stinks" is a ditty parents probably could benefit from too, he said.

"If you want to be rich, one idea to understand is that money will grow if you make a habit of saving and investing," he said.

Fourth-grader Victor Modesto saves so he can buy toys.

"Now I am a kid," he said. "If I keep saving, saving, saving and don't expend, one day when I grow up, I could have money enough to buy a good house."

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