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Money-Smart Stories: Save, Spend, Give and Pay It Forward


By Joanna Hampton

I have several great memories of learning about personal finance while I was growing up, starting as early as first grade. My parents set up a personal finance system for my sisters, brothers and me. In the kitchen, there was a list of “job tasks” (chores), each with a corresponding “wage” (allowance). My siblings and I made sure to check in with “the boss” (Mom) before and after completing each task. Friday was “payday” and Mom would give each of us the cash we earned that week. This system taught me from an early age that work and diligence were keys to earning money.

Jars labeled spend, save, give Beyond showing me the value of hard work, my parents’ system taught me another equally beneficial and impactful lesson. On payday, my mom always presented us with three envelopes, labeled “Save,” “Spend,” and “Give.” I was only in first grade at the time, so I didn’t know much about these ideas! Each payday, Mom instructed me to put 10% of my earnings in each of the Give and Save envelopes, then explained the importance of this habit. For the other 80% of my earnings, I got to choose which envelope I’d put my money in. This was my first experience of budgeting! That simple practice of organizing my earnings into three major categories helped me understand the importance of using money for more than just spending.

“That simple practice of organizing my earnings into three major categories helped me understand the importance of using money for more than just spending.”

My parents also taught me to think long-term about financial goals. If my siblings or I wanted to spend our money on something that cost more than 10 dollars, we had to sign and date a statement, put it on the fridge, and wait a month to see if we still wanted that item. I recall several times taking a statement off the fridge and putting a new one up because I had changed my mind and wanted to spend my money differently. This practice taught me the value of choosing purchases wisely, and taught me how to resist the impulse to buy the first thing that caught my eye.

Joanna holding a piggy bank My parents’ lessons taught my siblings and I an invaluable lesson: save and spend wisely. I am now 21 and recently graduated college debt free with the help of scholarships and my earnings. My husband and I also budget monthly. We even have a six-month emergency fund saved. Ultimately, the lessons my parents instilled in me have impacted every step of my life and have given me true financial freedom.

Now, I pay it forward by educating others about financial responsibility. When I was sixteen, I set up an earnings and reward system for my younger cousin, like the one my parents taught me. Today, I volunteer with Junior Achievement through Jackson, and have taught Junior Achievement’s Economics program to sixth graders in my community. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge with children and look forward to helping advance their financial education for many years to come!

Photo of Joanna Hampton
Joanna Hampton
Actuarial Associate, Jackson

Joanna Hampton is an Actuarial Associate at Jackson, where she supports financial model development and research. A Michigan native, Joanna earned her Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science and Statistics from Central Michigan University and has been with Jackson ever since.

The Jackson Charitable Foundation is the charitable-giving arm of Jackson National Life Insurance Company®. The Foundation focuses on work that is national in scope and programs supported may include an indirect cost of up to 3% of the organization's work in the project budget. Local community requests to strengthen families and increase economic opportunities in Lansing, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; and Nashville, Tennessee can be directed to Jackson's Corporate Philanthropy team.