Children and Money, Financial Literacy, The Heavy Purse

Meet Shannon Ryan: Financial Literacy Advocate

Meet Shannon Ryan: Financial Literacy Advocate

Several of my fellow bloggers have recently shared a more intimate look at the person behind the blog, and I enjoyed getting to know them better. Since imitation is often the best compliment, I decided to do something similar. I am very pleased to introduce you to me—Shannon Ryan: Financial Literacy Advocate.

Who is Shannon Ryan?

Shannon and her daughtersA Mom, a wife, a sister, a friend, an Aunt, a daughter, a financial advisor, a speaker, a blogger, an author, a business owner, a rotarian, a board member, a girl scout troop leader, a marathon runner, and an advocate for financial literacy for children and adults. I have a full plate, but I love everything I do, which makes it fun to get out of bed every morning. I’m also very tired when I fall back into bed at night. 🙂

What was the first song you danced to as husband and wife?

“All I Ask of You”, the love song from Phantom of the Opera, and we’ve been dancing together for 23 years!!

What was your first thought when you held Lauren? Taylor?

Pure joy. Who knew you could sit for hours and just look at a baby! I did not plan on being a mom, and I am so grateful I did not miss this journey but waited until I was ready to take it.

Why call your book/website The Heavy Purse?

I had the concept of save, spend and share outlined for many years under the name The Piggybankers. I tried to make it work then, but it never panned out so I put the project on the back burner. After 2007 and the collapse of the financial markets due to debt, I knew my message of financial literacy for children and adults was more critical than ever.

My purse is too heavy!Around the same time, my youngest daughter Taylor came flying down the hall with a pink leather change purse filled with coins all excited to tell me, “My purse is too heavy!” and it hit me: a heavy purse is the synonym for wealth. We all have “heavy purses” that we make decisions with every day, regardless of our income level. I realized “The Heavy Purse” was the perfect name and symbol for my book. Within 6 months, I was off and running again.

I’ve had several people ask me if The Heavy Purse is appropriate for boys. The answer is yes. The story is inspired by real events and is very personal to me. The concept of save, spend and share is for everyone, young and old, and the story itself is gender neutral. I have read The Heavy Purse to several large groups of children at local schools and boys responded just as enthusiastically when asked, “how will you save, spend and share your money?” Their enthusiasm and hunger to learn about money continues to amaze me and fills me with hope for their future.

What is the biggest money mistake people make?

Too much debt. The most unhappy people I meet have a mountain of debt that hangs over them and creates stress in their lives. Regardless of income, if you learn to live within your means and make decisions based on what you can afford and in alignment with your values, you will live a happier financial life.

What is the biggest money mistake people make with their kids?

Trying to fill our own childhood disappointment by giving too much to our children without teaching them how to make money decisions aligned with personal values. By doing this, we disable them financially.

What do you want to accomplish with The Heavy Purse?

My greatest desire with The Heavy Purse is to change the thinking in this country of when and how we need to educate children on financial literacy. The country is clearly off track!

U.S. Students Earn a D+ in Financial Literacy

If you had one wish … what would it be?

Every night when I tuck my girls into bed, I pray they will be Safe, Healthy and Happy. My wish would be that every human being is Safe, Healthy and Happy. It’s my version of “World Peace”.


The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you graise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.

Leave a Comment


  1. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Love these posts everyone is doing! Glad to get to know you better Shannon! And also, your girls are absolutely adorable :)
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thanks Mackenzie!! And yes, I couldn't agree more - my girls are adorable! :D
  2. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    "My greatest desire with The Heavy Purse is to change the thinking in this country of when and how we need to educate children on financial literacy." I absolutely LOVE this desire! I view it as not only our responsibility to do that for the younger generations, but it's also the right thing to do. Otherwise, we're sending them on the path to make the same mistakes many of us have made. Great to "meet" you Shannon! :)
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thanks John! Financial literacy is my passion and I am so excited The Heavy Purse is making a difference. I agree that it's our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to handle money. And deep down, I think most parents feel the same, but they don't know where to even start the conversation. Hopefully, I can help them!
  3. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself Shannon, by the way your girls are beauties, like their mamma of course :)

    I'm afraid I fall into the category of filling out my childhood disappointments by giving them stuff I never had, it was also a way for me to try and justify that I was always working.

    It was when we went down to one income that was the shocker for them. They couldn't understand why all of a sudden we were on a tight budget and I found myself explaining needs versus wants.

    Now that they're coming into adulthood they're understanding the value of a dollar, phew :)

    Have a great week!
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thanks Corina! You are certainly not alone in buying things for your children to make-up for your own childhood disappointments or to make-up for working. :) You still taught your children about wants and needs, which is the most important thing of all! You have a wonderful week too.
  4. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Thanks for sharing, Sharon! My husband is also a rotarian =)
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Ah, a fellow rotarian! It's a great organization. :)
  5. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Excellent post Shannon! I love that you followed through with your book, as it will help so many families.

    And your phrase "Safe, Healthy and Happy" is something I am thankful for everyday. I figure as long as we have those 3 things we will have the strength to deal with anything :-)
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thank you Sicorra! I hope that I can help make money a regular topic of discussion in families and I appreciate your support in helping me achieve my dream. If we are Safe, Healthy and Happy then we are definitely in a position to tackle anything!
  6. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    " Trying to fill our own childhood disappointment by giving too much to our children without teaching them how to make money decisions aligned with personal values. By doing this, we disable them financially."

    I imagine this is definitely a balancing act. Still a long way off kids, but I hope we'll be able to juggle teaching them the value of money without depriving them of too much.
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      It absolutely is a balancing act. There is no greater pleasure than being able to surprise your children with a gift and watch their eyes light up. At the same time, to balance those little unexpected treats in a way that your children don't walk into a store and assume you will buy them everything they want. :)
  7. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    I love these posts! You're a busy lady! My hope is to raise my daughter to understand and respect money. I want her to understand it- the good, bad and ugly! I had zero education, and am still very much in the process of self-teaching. I really wish our schools would do a better job at educating kids.
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      I am busy, but I am never bored. :D I agree that kids need to understand money inside and out. It makes me happy to see so many parents plan to or are already having conversations with their children about money. We all handle it and being able to handle it properly gives kids a huge advantage.
  8. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Also, you're beautiful!
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thank you. You are so kind and beautiful too! :)
  9. Monday, March 4th, 2013
    I love this! I like your version of "world peace." And your family is so adorable! I think you're right in the biggest financial mistake people make. It's so true that no matter how "rich" you are, debt weighs you down.
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Thank you! I think my family is pretty adorable too! :D Debt absolutely weighs you down. So many people unintentionally get themselves into debt without really understanding the repercussions. The flip side is once people get out of debt, they understand how to live a "rich" life within their means!
  10. Justin@TheFrugalPath
    Monday, March 4th, 2013
    Thank you for letting us get to know you better. I agree that we need to teach our children financial literacy. Giving your children everything that they want only solves your problem temporarily, but creates a much bigger lifelong problem of not being able to prioritize what to do with our money.
    • Monday, March 4th, 2013
      Absolutely agree! Too few children (and adults) can differentiate between a want and a need. I want my girls to have a magical childhood (and believe they do!) but I also want them prepared to handle the real world when they are on their own.
    • Justin@TheFrugalPath
      Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      Since we have no children of our own, I've been trying to instill this in my niece. It's hard though because I'm not her parent, but I don't want her to grow up financially illiterate.
    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      You are a great uncle, Justin. I take an avid interest in my nephews and nieces' financial well-being too. :) She is already learning from observing you being a good financial role model, and she will know who she can turn to for financial guidance as she grows older too.
  11. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    AWWW, great post, Shannon. It's so fun to meet the person behind the blog. I just love your passion for teaching personal finance. It's so important that we teach our children correctly so they don't make our same mistakes, and your blog resonates your passion for that so well. Thanks for sharing. :-)
    • Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      Thank you Laurie! I've enjoyed getting to know everyone too. :) It feels so good to share my passion of financial literacy with everyone and help parents start these important conversations.
  12. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    Glad you brought your little project back :) Sometimes timing is everything. The market collapse was a brutal lesson for all of us, but it's also got a lot of us at least talking about it. Love that you're inspiring a new generation of children and families with your book. Great story!!
    • Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      Me too! This feels right and the feedback has been great, so thank you for your encouraging words. The great recession was brutal but it did force people to think about how they were using their money and make some positive changes too.
  13. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    These posts are so much fun--love getting to know other bloggers!
    • Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      Thank you! I always enjoy learning more about the blogger behind the blog and I'm glad others feel the same way too. :)
  14. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    Love getting to know you a little better! I absolutely love your mission! And what an incredibly romantic first dance! :)
    • Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      Thank you! It was a great first dance with a great partner! :D It's exciting to see parents start having money conversations with their kids and gives great hope for our children.
  15. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    Thanks for sharing Shannon! Financial knowledge is one of the most important things we can impart on our children. We learn everything we know from our parents, even if we have to unlearn and relearn it later. My parents weren't the best financial role models, so I'm going to try my hardest to make them understand how money works before they're out of the house.
    • Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
      You're welcome! I couldn't agree more. We spend a lot of time teaching our children how to be good citizens of this world but neglect to teach them about money, which they will all need to manage in their lives. Your kids have great role models in you and your wife and will be ready to conquer the world when they leave home.
  16. Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
    You are all so beautiful! That's such a cute story behind the name. I love when the little ones come up with something so profound and have no idea.

    I love your mission. I wish my parents had done more financial teaching when I was a kid. They ended up doing pretty well,but told us it wasn't our job to worry about money. Guess what? We all grow up and it becomes our job. If you can go into it with experience, that's much better than having no idea. I still have 35 year olds who come in broke and call their moms to pay for contacts. I don't ever want my daughter to have to be in that situation and I hope I would not keep bailing her out if she was!
    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      Thank you Kim! It's why my book had to be The Heavy Purse! :D Parents often have such good intentions behind not talking about money to kids, but eventually it is your job to handle money and to handle it best - you need proper instruction and guidance. Like you, I want my daughters to call me for advice and to talk when they are adults—not because they need me to pay their rent or buy their contacts because they made foolish decisions with their money.
  17. Thursday, March 7th, 2013
    Well thanks for sharing more of who you are with us Shannon. I really enjoyed getting to know you and your girls are adorable.

    I applaud you also with a 23 year marriage, I know that's so hard these days. I love hearing about families that are making it in all areas of their lives.

    I'm sharing a post today about playing the prosperity game and it's about how to change our mindset we have on money. As a child growing up I was always told we never had any money but I was never taught why. I sure wish my Mom would have explained to me about saving back then because she's a pro. If I would have had children I'm sure I would have made plenty mistakes myself with them all because of my own upbringing.

    I think educating children about money as early as you can is so important. If they were to understand now how it can benefit them later on I think they would be more willing to go that route. I sure hope so and it sounds like they are from what you've share.

    Congratulations on will your accomplishments and again, thanks for sharing this with us. You're on a wonderful and important mission.

    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      Thank you stopping by, Adrienne. I am biased but I agree my girls are pretty adorable! :) I feel incredibly blessed to have had 23 years amazing years with my husband and look forward to many more with him. We are on a grand adventure together!

      I'm glad you're talking to your readers about money and look forward to reading your post. We all need money, but sometimes instead of us controlling it, our money controls us. Most of us grew up with parents who never talked about money. I was fortunate mine did. It made a huge difference in my life as I hope it will my daughters' lives too.
  18. Thursday, March 7th, 2013
    Great to learn more about you Shannon. I agree this country is clearly off track and since our investment is our children, they need to know how to be fiscally responsible. Great objective, look for more of your posts!
    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      Thank you Jim. Our children are greatest investment, and one of the best gifts can we can give them is to prepare them to handle their money with confidence. I appreciate you stopping by.
  19. Thursday, March 7th, 2013
    Your girls are the cutest thing! I was tired just reading all the hats you wear. Thank you for sharing, it is always nice to get to know more about the person behind the blog.
    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      Thank you Pauline! I agree that my girls are the cutest! It's possible I'm biased too. :) I am busy and I love it.
  20. Melinda Gonzalez
    Thursday, March 7th, 2013
    Just found your website and I really like it. I don't have kids, but I watch cartoons and I have a feeling I would love this book, even at 30, LOL.

    I think you said it best when you said it doesn't help to try to compensate for childhood disappointment by giving too much to our kids. I grew up in a neighborhood where most parents were first generation Americans. They spoiled their kids with expensive shoes, clothes, and other things because they didn't have those things growing up. A lot of the kids dropped out of school, or never quite grew up.

    I am glad someone has taken the initiative to teach little ones about finance. The things kids learn when their little stick with them forever.
    • Thursday, March 7th, 2013
      I'm so glad you found my website, Melinda. Many parents have the best intentions when they give their children everything they never had, but when they neglect to teach their children about money and smart decisions at the same time, it can cause significant problems. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to checking out your website too!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan