Dave Ramsey has been teaching Financial Peace University (FPU) for over 30 years. He has helped millions of families get out of debt and overcome financial barriers that have enslaved families for generations. While going through FPU, many folks would say, “If I only knew this information when I was younger—it would have kept me from so much pain.”
In 2000, Dave took this to heart and decided to produce Financial Peace Junior. Aimed at children ages 4–9, this new product would solve a couple of problems—it would equip parents to teach kids about money at an early age and it could also be used as church curriculum for the kids while their parents were completing FPU.
Along with Financial Peace Junior, the team wrote six children’s books that focused on the life of a new child character named Junior. In these stories, Junior learned about work, integrity, debt, savings, spending, and giving. Junior gave the kids someone they could relate to while, at the same time, providing inspiration and teaching. The goal was for children to see themselves in Junior and see that living out these money principles really works.
We’ve been through two revisions of the books. In the first version, the books ran about 2,000 words each. While the content was very good, we were told that the books were unable to hold the attention span of children. When we revamped the books in 2015, we cut the word count in half. The reduction in word count made the books more digestible without losing the meaning, teaching, and money principles.
Not only did we reduce the word count, but we also revamped the artwork. It was fascinating to see how the artists worked to create the books. They started with simple line sketches that showed us essentially what would be on each page. From there, they moved to a more sophisticated line drawing. Once the line drawings were approved, they would start with color. When the color portion was finalized, they went into what they call “rendering,” which consisted of adding shadows and depth to the artwork. The results were astonishing!
The final piece to the Junior line was the Junior Piggy Bank. Originally, this bank consisted of three clear plastic pigs that were marked “save” “spend” and “give”. They were clear so that kids could physically watch their money grow. That visual representation not only provided motivation, it was also a constant reminder that there were chores that needed to be completed.
In 2015, we also overhauled the banks. We heard from our customers that the ability to separate the cash into three categories was revolutionary. They also commented on how encouraging it was for their kids to watch their money grow. Unfortunately, the three little pigs took up too much space and were prone to splitting at the seams—especially when they were too full.
To eliminate this problem, we created a triangular bank that consisted of three different compartments (still save, spend, and give). We used the strongest clear plastic we could find. The result was a sturdy container that would withstand hard drops when full of change.
We’re currently in the process of designing our 4th edition of Financial Peace Junior. The current kit includes a Parent Guide, Student Guide, Chore Chart, Clear Envelopes (one each for save, spend, and give), and a code for a Smart Money Smart Kids eBook. Each time we’ve iterated on the kit, we’ve gotten closer to developing a product that truly meets the customer needs. In preparation for this most recent version, we have conducted focus groups, user testing, in-depth interviews, and have read thousands of reviews online. This is the most customer interaction we’ve utilized before building a new product. With a current rating of 4.9/5 stars on RamseySolutions.com and 4.7/5 rating on Amazon.com, why do we keep beating up the product? Because we want to make it better. Because excellence matters. Because we care about creating products so amazing, they can’t help but to change lives. Because we want to equip parents with the tools they need to teach their kids about how to handle money the right way.
Financial Peace Junior will keep kids from growing up and making the same financial mistakes as generations before them. The majority of teaching is coming from parents at home. Just like before, these parents understand the importance of teaching their children about money—they simply don’t know where to start.
Also, since our last revision of Financial Peace Junior, we realized our product didn’t have a clear path. We essentially threw all the teaching at parents and asked them to decipher how to use the materials with their kids. The new version will solve both problems. Not only will we provide a clear path for parents, but we will also show them step by step how they can slowly (or quickly) teach money principles at their own speed.
We’re not afraid to continuously improve a product—even when it doesn’t appear broken. But, if you’re not careful, you’ll get to the point where you’re so far removed from the customer, you have no idea what problems you’re trying to solve and how you can help change their life.