MagnifyMoney, out of New York, offers a free, independent service providing unbiased comparisons of financial products. Founded in 2014 by Nick Clements and Brian Karimzad, MagnifyMoney has had a special relationship with Chambliss Center for Children for the past three years.
It began when the MagnifyMoney team watched an HBO documentary Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. The film follows a struggling single mother as she tries to better her financial situation, only to be constantly knocked down by circumstances largely outside of her control. In a sea of financial battles, Katrina had one safe harbor: The Chambliss Center for Children.
The Chambliss Center offers 24/7 extended childcare and early childhood education for children ranging in age from six weeks to 12 years old. Parents are charged a fee on a sliding scale at a substantially reduced rate compared to the typical cost of childcare. Chambliss also provides a residential program for children who have been removed from their homes and are in custody of the State of Tennessee. Some children are placed in foster care, while others live onsite at the Chambliss Center.
Inspired by the documentary and the Chambliss Center, Clements and Karimzad wanted to help. The first year they came to Chambliss, in 2015, they had a seminar for staff. Staff members who were dealing with immense pressure to make ends meet would sit down one on one with Clements. Participants asked questions about credit scores, balance transfers, and overdraft fees. Clements gave them knowledge and advice about how to handle and get control over their debt. The MagnifyMoney team made another visit last year in 2016, this time to host the same seminar for parents of children at the center.
Clements focuses his seminars on three topics:
Ask the tough questions (How much debt do I have? Am I consistently going overdraft? Do I have anything in collections? What’s impacting my credit score?)
Break up with your bank (Don’t stay in a toxic relationship with a bank, switch to an Internet-only bank or a credit union)
Commit to a long-term plan
“The Chambliss Center stands as a pillar of hope for men and women struggling to raise their children while they need to work, or go back to school and often times serve as the single parent,” says Clements. “We felt fortunate to speak with their inspiring staff and the parents who work so diligently to ensure their children are provided with excellent care and education.”
This most recent visit, during February of 2017, the MagnifyMoney team wanted to concentrate more on the children. Clements says, “the younger we can get these children to begin thinking of the future, the better off they will be.”
“We began the day by speaking to students on the benefits on saving money,” Karimzad explains. “The children were between ages five to 12 so we split them up into a younger group and an older group. With the young ones we did a marshmallow test, where the objective was delayed gratification. The more you save now, the more you can have later.” With the marshmallow test, the children were given one marshmallow and told that if they save it by not eating it, then they will be given another. The MagnifyMoney team left the room for a few minutes and when they returned none of the marshmallows were eaten.
With the older group of children, they were shown pictures of people and asked the question, “Who do you think is richer.” For one example, they showed a picture of a professional basketball player vs. a picture of an average looking person who happened to be Bill Gates. The message portrayed was that it was never too soon to start saving money.
The goal for both age groups was to get them to think positively about the future so the MagnifyMoney team gave them an arts and crafts project called “What would you do with $100 thousand.”
“Some children wanted to go to college, buy a house for their family, save it, or invest in a future career.” says Mandi Woodruff, executive editor of MagnifyMoney. “ At the end of the day we had an awards ceremony where we picked a first and second place winner and awarded them with money to go towards college.”
The first place winner was awarded with $200, $100 to be spent now in a gift card to Barnes and Noble and the other $100 to be put into a 529 College Savings Account. Second place winners were given $50 put into a 529 College Savings Account.
Photography contributed by Chambliss Center for Children and MagnifyMoney.