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Strive to Thrive 
The Musubi Life

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Make Time in Your Day to Learn the Money Thing

Author - Abbie Kahula Reed

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Hey There! Abbie Here


 As I reflect upon the past growing up over 60 years ago, I see life managing with one source of income in the home was much easier back then than now. 


I was fortunate to be raised by parents who did everything in their power to raise us in a good home with love. My parents worked hard every day to pay the bills and care for six children. Although we didn't have much, what we did have, we stretched out to make ends meet, including a can of Spam and the musubis.

The Musubi life is a term I fondly refer to as

a simple and content lifestyle

despite what little we had. 


Image credit: Creative Commons

SPAM - Special Processed American Meat


     Click for Spam Musubi Recipe and History

"When I lived in Hawaii I had SPAM all the time, mainly because it was pretty much all I could afford. I had it for breakfast with eggs and rice. I had it for dinner with noodles and rice. And for lunch, I made this Spam Musubi." 

                                Erica Walker


Back then, we got by as long as we had good health and our soul was intact with family around us; we were happy living the musubi life. Unfortunately, getting by today is not as easy as it was back then when the price of a can of Spam is up to 3 bucks and rising like the cost of everything else today.

When is the Musubi Life Not Enough? Reality Check

I cherish the memories of my time growing up. I'm sure there was a struggle with affordability then, but I didn't know it then since "struggle" and "affordability" were unspoken words in our home. There was no talk about money or finances growing up. We never expected or asked for more than what we received. Expectations were limited to what we knew we could have so we never felt deprived. We were content.


My grandchildren invoke a story or two of me, especially on long adventures squeezed in my Dillydilly (2007 Rio Kia car). They beg for stories of my past or imagination, for which I gladly oblige. They ask, even knowing my fee is a quarter per story, not per child. The fee is "just business," I explain. I make bucks from their investment, assurance that the inquiry is genuine and not out of pity or intent to flatter or scam an old lady. It's funny to see how they balk at the things I received from my parents and treasured as a kid compared to the gifts they take for granted. I'm not sure if the "then and now" stories contrast values of the economy, but there are many more left to tell to keep me in business. 

According to Hawaii Business News reports (January 2022), the challenge of homeownership options increased-- the median price of a house now tops over a million dollars. That's the price we pay for living on a tiny island. There's not much of it, and high demand for whatever there is.

Luxury Mansion Interior

Hawaii legislators are working on raising Hawaiiʻs minimum wage gradually from $12.00 to eventually reaching $18.00 by 2026, as reported by Bryce Moore of Honolulu KHON2. But even if the bill passes, will that be enough? According to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism report, the grim reality is that more than one-third of households with a family of four need almost $88,000 a year to make the basic living expenses. The income of over one-third of Oahuʻs families with two adults and two children and 43% of single adults fall under the self-sufficiency standard for Hawaiʻi. 2021 Hawaii state report (Dec 2021). 

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What will Spam and everything else in Hawaiʻi cost for the next generation, our children and grandchildren when they grow up? Where in the economic statistics will they fall?


Money Talk Silence

Finances and talk about money were not common topics discussed in the house. Knowing how mortgages and loans worked would have been helpful to know earlier than when I did. Who knew that the final loan amount paid for a car or house was affected by the good or bad credit established before taking out the loan. Perhaps grown-ups assumed that children had no need to know and believed the school system had that subject covered. I realized too late how financial literacy takes time to understand and practice good money habits from personal experience.  

I recently discovered that financial literacy was not being taught in schools as a requirement back then and now in 2022. Consequently, my children paid the price for my ignorance from my hand-me-down assumptions and habits. Moreover, my hand-me-down assumption that college was only for people with money would have denied my children from college if I hadn't made a new friend who set me straight. Thankfully, all four children went to college and now live their industrious lives and giving me grandchildren. Bonus!   










Financial Literacy in Hawaiʻi?  Better Late than Never  

It was eye-opening to learn that a mandate in schools to teach financial literacy did not exist back then nor does it exist today. Only recently, government and educational systems realized its importance. A bill for an act in Hawaiʻi's legislature claims that "lack of financial literacy poses a significant barrier for individuals seeking to achieve financial prosperity and stability." Similar legislations are at play in thirty-eight states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, according to an article by Heather Morton of the National Conference of State Legislatures.





















Although legislation efforts and intentions are commendable, I believe financial literacy should start much sooner than at the high school level based on past personal lessons learned. There is so much to know and more time to learn is needed before the children set out in the world as adults on their own. Morton also lists Hawaiʻi status in the game of financial literacy education in her article:

  • Hawaii adopted resolutions urging the department of education to coordinate with the department of commerce and consumer affairs to implement a graduation requirement of at least a half credit in financial literacy during the junior year or senior year.


Sesame Street Teaches Money Matters Early - Yeh!  


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Girl in Classroom

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Image credit: Sesame Street YouTube Channel

I'm not the only one who thinks early financial education is a good idea. Good old Sesame Street started a series on teaching children about money management and investments years ago. Way to go, Bert and Ernie!


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I am delighted to see reputable and credible resources like this video by Sesame Street available for parents to share with their kids. Early learning about finances is necessary because there's so much to know. It only makes sense to spread the understanding over time than in a cram session late in the game—the success rate for making solid financial decisions in the future level up with learning early. Similar information is easily accessible online from any device. One just need to search for it with appropriate keywords then boom! There you are--on the road to knowledge and learning.


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Terminology like mortgage, interest rates, good and bad credit, loans and inflation are some of the terminology I advocate for parents to talk about with the kids. A variety of amazing learning tools are available and free to use online. online. The old classic game of chance and money is a fun place to start. 

YouTube Rich Dad Poor Dad channel - Cashflow Game Instructions

Robert Kiyosaki, local boy from Hilo, Hawaiʻi shares in his best-selling book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," is considered by many who aspire to or have achieve financial success as the bible to success. Kiyosaki created the Cashflow board game sold on for $60 - $80. It is an advanced level game with strategies to teach how assets and liabilities balanced on a financial statement is key to money success. I found the lessons in the game were worth the cost. It makes learning the complex lessons of assets, liabilities, financial statements and the cashflow quadrant fun. Kiyosaki provides a clear explanation of the basic essential knowledge crucial to have in this video. Eye-Opening!

Family Board Game

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I realized how talking about money early in the game is an excellent start to stopping the cycle of my generational struggle to thrive with financial freedom and life choices. I made a collection of motivational smart money mindset verbiage and topics for my easy to reference on my cellphone in case there's a free moment with the grandkids to make my pitches. 


My Favorite Wise Money Talk Verbiage

"Having Money Don't Make You Better

It Helps to Solve Problems"

Feel Free

to snap a photo of this list to 

have it 

"on the go"

to use 

 I turned my grandkids on to the idea of watching the smart money videos over their favorite YouTube videos watching people playing video games. That wasn't easy to do, but after they started watching MY video playlist, something clicked, and I saw a spark in their eye. Shayden saw the light first. The others sat on the fence thinking about why they should do more learning outside of school. That was what I saw a common problem overall. Who wants to spend free time "learning" when there's so many things more interesting to do?  When they come to visit, we have conversations about money strategies and creating future goals. Knowing that they have possibilities if they work hard and don't give up gives me happy goosebumps.

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Learn More to Do More to Be More

to Get More -Why Do It?

Learning takes effort and time. I get it! It's way mo' funner, especially after a long day, to sit back, relax and stream a good Netflix movie or two. One would need a powerful reason, the big WHY do it to choose to spend time to learn over watching a good movie. This commitment was tough and a HUGE life change for me, especially since I love my movies. Moreover, I'm not a book reader. Then I discovered audiobooks! What! Listening to a "book" while I'm gardening or cleaning house is a multi-tasking genius. New challenges require lifestyle changes to adapt and get ahead.


Me and My Grandson Shayden

Stick It Your Ear Grandma!

Making dreams come true is possible with hard work and time spent learning. Good News--there's so much available online to learn! Bad News --there's so much available online to learn. It takes time to learn but time is like gold, precious and very limited--a complex conundrum I continue to explore. I set out to search for solutions here in the upcoming blogs. Stay tuned to see what solutions I find for the perplexing problem of time and money. Thank you for hanging out with me.

Stay cool and be well

Fitness Gym

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This project is to support my graduation requirement on a senior capstone project
an undergraduate student at UH West Oahu pursuing a
Bachelor's Degree in Creative Media Communications and New Technology

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