Bergen County Spotlight On: Financial Literacy

By: NVE Bank

It is never too early to equip children with information and guidance on how to save and manage money. As a leading community mutual bank, it is part of NVE’s mission to foster initiatives that help improve our fellow citizens’ quality of life and strengthen the neighborhoods where we live and work to ensure they remain healthy and strong. That is why we are so proud and excited to support New Jersey-based iPiggiBank’s efforts to provide children throughout Bergen County with money management education! The beauty of this type of education is that it can happen anywhere, and that’s exactly what iPiggiBank is proving through its Money Management 4 Kids program. We recently sat down with Founder and CEO Shara Nadler to get the scoop on what this amazing organization is all about.

NVE Bank: Please describe what iPiggiBank is and does.

Shara Nadler: iPiggiBank teaches younger students in Grade 1-6 how to manage their money through a curriculum and workshop called, Money Management 4 Kids. Only state certified teachers are hired and trained on iPiggiBank’s curriculum. Our teachers lead students in learning about smart money skills through hands-on activities that leverage art, writing, literacy and play.

Where do iPiggiBank’s programs take place?

iPiggiBank Money Management 4 Kids is available in public and private schools, after-school enrichment programs, clubs, camps and corporate settings.

Where do most of your students reside/go to school?

Our tailored program has reached over 1,000 students in urban, suburban and rural areas in public and private schools, as well as schools for students with special needs.

Do you have any favorite “success stories” that speak to the success of your programs?

Each iPiggiBank student is a success story because they have participated in learning critical money skills and are on the road to life-long healthy financial habits! After every workshop, students always ask, “Can you come back next week?” We love hearing that because it means that we have taken an important life skill and made it relatable and fun for kids.

In January, I was proud to receive an award from the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership for bringing to market and scaling this amazing financial literacy program for kids. So, I think the whole program is a pretty great success story!

Are there shared challenges iPiggiBank students tend to have?

One of the great things about our audience is how diverse it is. Each student has a unique fingerprint that they bring to the class. It generates great group discussions about personal values around money, which provides even more learning for our students.

How did you connect with NVE Bank?

I read about NVE’s involvement in the community and reached out to the marketing department to introduce our work. There was an immediate connection and shared passion in teaching financial literacy to kids. With NVE’s support, iPiggiBank is able to provide an after-school program at Bergen Family Center in Englewood. Our partnership is making a notable impact in the community.

Are there circumstances unique to Bergen County or New Jersey as it applies to financial literacy/money management?

There are 19 States that require personal finance education in high school. New Jersey is one of them and allows the District to decide how to include it in the high school curriculum.

iPiggiBank focuses on younger students to build a strong financial foundation. Our intent for our students is that, by high school, they are ready to jump into more sophisticated content and conversations about investing, insurance, real estate, retirement and ‘real life’ financial decisions.

What is the biggest challenge posed by insufficient financial literacy/money management?

Most adults would give themselves a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ in personal finance, yet they pass their finance knowledge along to their children. We are perpetuating a broken system by not formally teaching financial literacy in school. iPiggiBank is doing our part to fix the broken system by delivering a premier curriculum for students in elementary and middle school.

How can people learn more about, and get involved with iPiggiBank’s programs?

There’s great information on how to bring iPiggiBank Money Management 4 Kids to your community via the website: Anyone interested can also contact us directly at

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes, teaching kids financial literacy is a critical life skill. Sometimes families don’t know how or are uncomfortable (or even embarrassed) to talk about money. We’ve designed our materials to bridge classroom learning with home learning to encourage families to discuss this important topic together.

What I Wish I Knew

When I joined iPiggiBank as the Social Media Associate, I thought it was a brilliant idea to teach children money skills. It’s something that I still have not fully grasped at 21 years old -- and I am sure most people my age feel that way too. Throughout high school and college, I have learned a lot of skills and lessons on my own through mistakes and experiences. It wasn’t until my first paycheck that I learned about a deposit. It wasn’t until my first credit card that I started realizing the importance of budgeting. It wasn’t until my university took all my money that I realized that window shopping is just as enjoyable as buying the items. These were life lessons that would’ve been nice to have instilled in me as a child.

When I first helped the iPiggiBank teacher with the Money Management for Kids workshop, I learned that the wrap up question asked is, “What did you learn or enjoy about today?”.   Initially, I thought that the teacher would have to call on the students to pull words out of their mouths. I expected to hear loved shopping in class, had fun decorating banks, and got out of reading and writing for the day.

 My first iPiggiBank Money Management for Kids Workshop with second graders. 

My first iPiggiBank Money Management for Kids Workshop with second graders. 

That’s not what I heard -- or saw.  These kids were on their feet, raising their hands enthusiastically. One student learned how to compare prices and think ahead before spending so that he can make sure he can budget to get what he wants. Another student couldn’t wait to go to the bank to open up an account, after asking all about interest to the bank representative—a word I only learned several years ago. Another child learned to share his money, because at the store he politely asked me if it was okay to buy two notebooks so he could give one to his sister.

Not one student complained that they weren’t given enough money, that they didn’t have the right color marker, or that they hated doing chores. They were fully engaged and were so attentive to the teacher. It was an amazing experience to witness!

Financial literacy is so important. These are lessons that every person needs to learn and skills that they need to apply. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of iPiggiBank, so I can feel that I am helping teach something that I only wish I was taught at a young age.

5 Steps to Teach Kids that Allowance is Serious Business

I have been a parent for nearly a decade and there’s nothing that can make me cringe like the constant barrage of requests to buy something new.  It’s a challenge for even the most disciplined parent to keep saying, ‘sorry, but NO.’ Eventually, you give in and you hear yourself say, ‘FINE, yes, get it.” Is this parent-child dynamic inescapable?

I’m an optimist and say, ‘yes!’ Let’s take a fresh approach and teach our kids the fundamentals of money management starting with earning, saving, sharing and shopping wisely.

Here is a 5 Step-by-Step guide to help bring ‘Can I have . . . ?“ into ‘How can I earn . . . ?“ and shape our kids critical thinking and healthy financial habits.

Step 1: What’s the goal?

We want our kids to know that anything is within their reach but you need a game plan to get there.  Whether it’s completing their daily chores to attain their financial goal or practicing the piano every day to get selected for the school’s recital, a sense of accomplishment and pride in work is a critical life skill. Setting worthy, achievable goals gets kids excited about heading down the path towards future success.

Step 2: Focus on money management skills.

Kids can earn money from chores or age appropriate jobs, like pet sitting, but if you can’t manage your earnings you are out of business. One great way to learn how to manage money when you are younger is to distribute or allocate funds into three separate accounts  -- Save, Share and Shop.  Each account has its own purpose and is available when you need it. This step sets up a strong foundation for healthy financial habits to build on.

Step 3: When in doubt, ask, “Is it a need or a want?”

Walking into a store and seeing everything new and shinny is overwhelming for kids (and grown-ups!) and can throw off the best game plan.  Talk to your kids about needs (e.g., food and water) and wants (e.g., toys and candy) when you are running errands, in the grocery store or driving in the car.  Be assured, it’s not too early to start this conversation and it will help our kids mature a critical life skill that will help them tackle increasingly more substantial choices later in life.

Step 4: Ask, “How did it make you feel?”  

A little reflection goes a long way. By achieving set goals and being financially smart, kids gain confidence and satisfaction with a job well done.  What parent doesn’t appreciate hard work and great attitude? Let’s not forget among the hustle of bustle of life to acknowledge a job well done and grow self-esteem. 

Step 5: Go for it! 

Allowance paves the way for possibilities and opportunities and puts a twinkle in a child’s eye. You only need to see the smile of a successful, summer lemonade “sales-kid” to understand the impact of this one. Let’s encourage our kids to adopt wise money skills and make allowance serious kid business.  

2015 Parent Year in Review

As 2016 approaches, I catch myself auditing my 2015 Parent Year in Review while in line for coffee, en route to a meeting or making school lunches.  I am reminded how impressionable my kids are and how my actions imprint on them.  At the end of the day, we set the examples in which they learn from and, just recently, I was reminded of that when I asked my five year old to make his bed.

After a it's too quiet in there period of time, I peaked in his room and he was stripping his bed  -- no sheets, pillow cases or blanket. He met my what-are-you-doing look of shock with genuine exasperation, “I’m making my bed, that’s what you told me to do! It’s laundry day!” ( It was laundry day -- I had NO idea that he even knew there was a 'laundry day.')

Lesson learned; whether intended or not, our kids learn by watching us.

So, as this year winds down and I assess 2015, I look to the tenets of save, spend and share -- the anchors that helped me launch my company, iPiggiBank, and life anchors in positive modeling.

Save: Did I set an example for my children on the reward of saving for something special? Or, in my haste, did I succumb to the easy, pleasing route – instant gratification? My boys’ have saved their Halloween candy all the way through December so perhaps I have made a dent here.

Spend: Did I spend time with my kids really listening to them, playing with them and seizing teachable moments? Being transparent, there were days that were busier and more overwhelming than others.  I found that carving out additional time can be near impossible, but seizing opportunities in life’s mundane routines worked for my family. For example, I started to make it a practice in 2015 to discuss with my three sons that we have a grocery budget and we cannot throw every sugary cereal into our basket.  This actually works for us (sorry, Fruit Loops).

Share: Did I model for my children how important it is to give back to their community by sharing their time and money? This year, my boys put forth a tremendous team effort to give back to the teachers who, after all, give them one of the greatest gifts of all – the gift of education. They personally delivered hand crafted breakfast trays to the school. Note, I say hand crafted not mom crafted. This is a proud moment that I will cherish for a long time and I look forward to many more sharing moments like this in 2016.

As I reflect on my 2015 Parent Year in Review, I see clearly which seeds have taken root, which are growing, and where I should start planting.

That's the great thing about a new year -- it's a fresh start to embark on being the best you can be. So, let’s set an example of our best selves, after all, our kids are watching.

I challenge other parents to reflect on the past year and share which ways they would build on their parenting successes and challenges. Parenting is a village, I’d love to learn from you.

Happy 2016!



Spend A Day With A Money-Smart Millennium

I’m Annemarie Hansen. College senior. Veteran babysitter. iPiggiBank Marketing & Social Media Associate.  Money-smart millennium.


Working for iPiggiBank for the past 2 years has offered me more incredible insight on kids’ financial literacy than I could have ever imagined. To my surprise (and to my luck) it has also helped me with my own financial savvy. The skills we are instilling in young kids will stay with them long after they graduate from iPiggiBank’s Money Management for Kids programs – and I am living proof.

Walk through a day with me to see all the different ways iPiggiBank’s money management skills and core concepts of Save, Share & Shop have an impact:



As the sun rises, so do Dad and I, running the familiar route through town. Running is many things to me: a bonding experience with my Dad, a way to stay healthy, and a way to give back. Together we ran the 2014 NYC Marathon and raised over $5,200 on behalf of Team for Kids, a charity that helps support free, youth fitness programs in over 400 schools and community centers nationwide.


After a quick shower, I head over to babysit for a few hours. I open the door to eager greetings of “Hi Ed!!” (It stands for Evil Dictator, but I pinky promise it’s a term of affection). We might spend the morning having breakfast at the diner, searching Marshall’s for a good deal on new jeans, or walking over to feed the neighbor’s pets while they are away. Just as iPiggiBank is helping parents start (and continue) the “awkward” or “hushed” money conversation at home, it also helps babysitters like me. If ‘my charge’ wants a new phone case, he has to decide if that’s really what he wants to spend his money on; and if we go to the grocery store with a budget, sometimes we have to pick between the cookie and the vitamin water. These conversations help transform me from an always-says-no Ed (yep, “Evil Dictator”) to a teacher and trusty advisor.


Once I’m off the clock, I head out to do some grocery shopping of my own. No longer a part of your parents’ or university’s meal plan, you quickly realize how expensive buying groceries can be. However, it doesn’t have to be. I plan my week’s meals around what I know is on sale and I’m careful not to overbuy on fresh groceries that can turn rotten quickly and go to waste. I even bring my own reusable bags to help the environment. Just like iPiggiBank’s Receipt Challenge, I always check to make sure I was charged correctly and received discounts where I should have. 


When I get home, I cozy up on the couch with my Study Abroad scrapbook. I often have trouble finding the words to describe my incredibly amazing semester in Australia. Never before have I experienced such freedom and responsibility – along with a critical need for smart budgeting.  Since traveling to Australia was something I had always dreamed of doing, I spent a long time saving up before my departure. This involved picking up extra jobs, putting in extra hours, and splitting my paychecks – half went towards Australia savings and the other half I could use for spending. Because I planned ahead, saved up, and budgeted accordingly while I was there, I was able to experience all that I wanted to and more. Again, iPiggiBank’s teachings to save wisely for something special rings true.


As I shut my scrapbook, I skip into the kitchen to help out someone whom I have my ability to study abroad – and a plethora of other things – to thank for; my mom! Helping prepare dinner for my family is not only a bonding time with mom, it’s also my way of being a family-team player. I know that our happy, healthy, and loving home is a product of each of us doing our part. iPiggiBank reinforces family time by finding a helpful role for everyone in the home. Besides, who cannot give back to the people who love and support you most?


iPiggiBank: What we are? What we aren’t? And why.

As the CEO of iPiggiBank, one question I am often asked is, “Do kids get real money from iPiggiBank for chores?” The answer is NO. And, here’s why.

iPiggiBank is for real families that want an incredibly helpful way to manage and approve real chores in their home, teach responsibility and introduce real money management skills. Parents are the bank so kids earnVERY REAL money from a family’s budget.

It’s your family. It’s your money. iPiggiBank is here to help.

Other chore and allowance sites use debit cards, IOUs, stickers, points, pre-paid cards (which may or may not be cashed in). When a child is ready to use their allowance, iPiggiBank notifies a parent(s) and gives them options with links to — their family’s bank homepage to move money into their child’s savings account; retailer sites to shop from their child’s wish list; and pre-selected charity pages to donate to directly. VERY REAL money comes from parents for jobs well done.

iPiggiBank is a tool for parents to help encourage their kids in a FUN way to learn responsibility, earn money, manage it wisely(!) and elevate conversations at home about healthy financial habits. We take it so seriously that we created an offline education program called, Money Management for Kids (stay tuned for upcoming dates and locations).

Still open to questions though . . .


Out of the Mouth of Babes

As I pile up the boxes of Girl Scout cookies on my kitchen counter that I ordered to support cousins, friends and friends of friends, my 8 year old son asks me, “How much did all these cookies cost?”  I look at him ( a little surprised that he’s not excited about eating cookies) and his face reflects genuine shock and concern that I have not been thoughtful in spending ‘our’ money.  Did the student just become the teacher?

Maybe. This is a proud mommy moment. He’s applying the money management skills that we discuss regularly in simple everyday routines. From talks in the car on our way to baseball practice on needs vs wants or how much money he needs to save up to contribute towards his new bike, it’s all sinking in! He gets it. Yippee, I’m raising a money savvy kid.

I reassure him that supporting the Girl Scouts is part of our ‘sharing’ and giving back and thank him for asking me. If he didn’t I wouldn’t have thought to explain why we used our funds for this cause.  Our kids are always watching and learning from us  . . .

Share your experience and tell me about your super money savvy kid!


“What’s the Sweet Spot for Allowance?”

I recently had coffee with a friend and our conversation wandered onto the subject of chores and allowance. We agreed that teaching our kids responsibility through chores has endless benefits like, sense of accomplishment, pride in their work, teamwork and feeling connected to their family. Then, my friend asked me a great question — What’s the right amount for allowance?

Here are three suggestions to consider when seeking an answer to this question. Keep in mind, every family has their own unique fingerprint and with a little thought can determine what will work best for their family’s ‘allowance sweet spot.’

1. Budget

What’s your budget? According to a study from Cambridge University, kids money habits are set by the age of 7 years. So, seize this opportunity to discuss with your kids what are your families’ needs (i.e., food and clothing) and wants (i.e., toys) and how that sets your family budget. Then, you can talk about what’s remaining in the family budget for allowance.

2. Your Values

First Conversation? For many parents this is the first conversation with their kids about money and their values around it. It’s an opportunity for a parent to take a step back and think about how they learned about money. What influence did their parents or caregivers have on their values toward money? Parents have substantial power at home to foster healthy money skills.

“Allowances shouldn’t be given just because the child thinks they’re entitled to getting money. It should be given as a way to teach values and also to encourage independence.” – Suze Orman, Interview with WalletPop.

3. Grow with it

Start small, grow with it. Pick a number that you feel represents the task(s) at hand and as your child’s responsibilities grow so will their allowance. Take away, don’t sweat the bottom line number now because it has room to grow.

Mix it up to hit the ‘sweet spot.’ Try these tactics together to tackle this question and you are sure to get closer to finding the right answer for your family.

Do you have more tips to add? I would love to hear them.

Shara Nadler, CEO & Founder