The story goes like this. Three friends need $400 for a Queen Bee concert ticket.
Sammy gets $100 from his father and is told to invest it. He partners with Katrina, a fashionista and entrepreneur, who makes T-shirts. They make a purchase and sell their product for $20 each and make $1000, more than enough for two tickets.
The third friend, Cash Money Carl, spent all of his money buying clothes and jewelry, and ended up not having enough money for a ticket. Sammy and Katrina encouraged Cash Money Carl to sell the items he purchased, so he can buy a ticket.
He was successful and all were able to enjoy the Queen Bee concert.
Although it’s relevant today, the story known as “Sammy the Saver” was created four years ago by Carl Brown, director of the DC Small Business Development Center at Howard University.
Thanks to a grant from the Citi Foundation, youngsters across the region can read the comic book about Sammy the Saver while learning about financial literacy.
“It’s critically important. “It’s just like teaching them mathematics,” said Brown, a Howard graduate who has run the program for the past seven years. “Don’t seek immediate gratification. If you’re looking to buy something, don’t take your Christmas and birthday money and go out and buy the latest video game. If you really want something big, delay that gratification and get what you want instead of getting things in the interim that may not last.”
Brown said the story came to him one day, and he just wrote it down.
“God told me to write this story,” he said. “I stared writing these stories about Sammy the Saver. That’s not what I wanted to do. I was trying to write a horror movie because I am a big zombie, vampire kind of guy, so I get this thing that says write about financial literacy. I wrote about four or five of them. I wrote them and just put them away.”
The grant is earmarked to promote financial literacy through three components, youth, community organizations and small businesses. The grant is used for workshops from everyday spending to long-term financial planning. Counselors provide money management skills to assist in personal and professional growth.
Sammy the Saver is targeted at kindergarten through eighth-grade students. It is one of several workshop series that counselors offer to the community. Brown said he believes the stories came to him because of the work that he does with small businesses on a daily basis.
“We counsel small businesses on growth and development. I have seen people come in who have a good business, but they don’t have any money. You ask them, where is your money going? Well, it’s in the parking lot and it’s on their back,” Brown said. “We need to start earlier on this whole financial literacy piece.”
Brown goes to schools and community events to share the story of Sammy the Saver.
He recalls growing up in New York where he lived near a bank that offered a Christmas Savings Club. Every month he would make deposits and end up with a nice sum of cash at the end of the year.
“It teaches them how to count money, how to put a budget together,” Brown said of financial literacy education for the youth. “At the fourth and fifth grade, they are not going to understand credit scores.”
Brown saw Sammy the Saver as a way to simply financial literacy for children. He partnered with Creative Junkfood, a graphics company, to provide the visuals.
“The response has been phenomenal,” Brown said of the feedback from Sammy the Saver.
Brown noted that financial literacy is so critical because many people live above their means, and don’t think about the future.
“Why spend $1,500 on a car note when a $500 car note does the same thing?” he asked, mentioning many athletes who end up broke less than three years after retirement.
In addition to the Sammy the Saver workshops, seminars are given on record-keeping, borrowing while Black, understanding public service loans and other topics.
Sessions are also given on retirement planning for business owners. All programs are free. For more information about financial literacy training, visit dcsbdc.org or call 202-806-1550. To schedule a session on Sammy the Saver, contact Carl Brown at Carl.Brown@howard.edu.