Nancy Colella has worked hard to get where she is today. As a kid, she watched her parents struggle financially, which motivated her to focus on education and challenge herself to achieve financial stability and live life on her own terms.
It hasn't always been easy. She's learned from mistakes and navigated her way through tough times before starting her own business. After 15 years of working her way up in the commercial real estate business and earning an MBA, Nancy launched her own company, NYS Sustainable Corp., which designs, organizes, and implements renewable energy projects for clients in commercial real estate.
Now a single mom in East Norwich, N.Y., Nancy is determined to teach Thalia, her 7-year-old daughter, financial lessons that will allow her to build the life she wants. One of the tools she's using is the GoHenry debit card for kids.
“It's a great learning tool for kids, as it empowers kids to learn the value of money and earn their own keep," she says.
Here are four money lessons Nancy is teaching her daughter.
1. Time is money
Nancy first ordered her daughter a debit card for kids to help manage chores. With GoHenry, she can customize the chores she wants Thalia to handle, and transfer money to Thalia's debit card when the chores are complete.
“Thalia understands that when tasks are done, she earns money, and now she asks for more opportunities and tasks to earn from," she says.
As a business owner, Nancy believes time is the most valuable commodity—in business, time is money. A children's debit card can help parents teach kids that time has value, because when the child puts time into completing a task and they get paid for it, they can clearly realize the value of their time, she says.
2. Money isn't the key to happiness
While Thalia is allowed to buy items she wants with the money she earns, Nancy is also working to teach her that money doesn't make everything better. “Finance is a tool to access materials you may need from day to day, but it won't instill happiness," she says.
Nancy wants her daughter to learn that happiness comes from the things money can't buy, such as memories and relationships. But making wise financial choices can make those things more enjoyable.
3. Understand the value of money
Thalia mostly uses her earnings to purchase toys. One of her favorite places to shop with her debit card is Build-a-Bear Workshop. As Thalia starts saving for her next toy, Nancy uses this opportunity to talk to her about how much she is saving and how long it takes to reach her goal.
Nancy explains that when Thalia starts contemplating a toy to buy, she will remind her that she earns $5 a week and if the toy costs $40, that is two months worth of allowance and savings. Because Thalia is earning the money herself, this breakdown helps give value to the toy.
Currently, Thalia has saved $60 on her debit card, Nancy says. It's empowering for the second-grader when she realizes she has saved enough money for an item she wants.
4. Money follows passion
Finally, Nancy wants her daughter to learn that there are many ways to generate income and revenue. Smart money management makes it easy to travel successfully toward almost any career field. And she wants Thalia to know that it's important to find her own path. She often encourages her daughter to be her own person and challenge herself — and Thalia will sometimes remind her mom of those same lessons.
Nancy is also teaching independence by example. For instance, after 15 years of working for other companies, she wanted to start her own business to take control of her lifestyle, set her own hours, and focus on projects that she cares about.
“When you enjoy what you do the money always follows, because it shows that you are passionate," Nancy says. “Whatever you do, do it well and focus on working smart, not hard."