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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #73
November 26, 2008

The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow... Won't It?

Annie + Talking About Money

"The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" promises Little Orphan Annie, in a Depression-era tale that seems well suited for these gloomy economic times. Annie, a made for television movie from Disney, fulfilled all the promise of the smash Broadway musical, translating it perfectly for a younger generation. Annie is an orphan who fervently believes her parents will return for her one day. In the meantime, she lives under the nasty tutelage of Miss Hannigan, a woman who enjoys making kids clean their rooms with a toothbrush. Annie makes several attempts to escape, befriends a charming mutt called Sandy and winds up as the guest of Daddy Warbucks, the richest man in New York City, for Christmas. When Warbucks decides to adopt Annie, Miss Hannigan does her best to collect on the opportunity but, in the end, Annie's optimism triumphs in a  singing and dancing extravaganza that our kids adore.  The red-headed mop's theatrics top anything our kids could muster even at their most spoiled moments.

It's not easy to talk about money, yet Annie sings with abandon about not having any of it! Annie has a super optimistic outlook, but we know that many kids are feeling anxiety about the economy from conversations they've overheard at home or in the media. Given that many of us are facing a holiday season where there might not be as many gifts as years past, we turned to KOTC's Financial Guru Nathan Dungan for tips on Talking About Money.  His main strategy for families is to connect core values to how you share, save and spend your money. This weekend's Thanksgiving holiday offers families a perfect opportunity to talk with your children about these complicated issues. You'll find Nathan Dungan's Tips for getting these conversations started below, but his sagacious advice is to connect a grandparent with a child through personal stories. Before credit cards, when staycations were the norm and travel was for honeymoons or graduations, what did Grandpa wish for at Christmastime? And how did Grandma's parents talk to her about saving for a college education? How did Uncle Charlie save for his first bike?  These conversations are priceless, and we urge you to record them for posterity.  Need help?  This Thursday is Story Corps' National Day of Listening and they offer step-by-step instructions for how to make those recordings as well as how to encourage your children to sit down with someone special, ask a few questions (see our list, below) and record these conversations for posterity.  You'll be thankful.

Film Title: Annie
Directed By: Rob Marshall
1999, Rated U, 89 mins

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:

  • Why It's Worth It: We like this title for it's optimism - Annie's can-do attitude hits kids where they live. They relate to her problems and her positivism, all at once, which helps them to realize they could overcome obstacles in their own lives. Okay that chipper song may drive you mad as it repeats (and repeats) in your brain, and the kids will want to see this movie multiple times to get used to it!
  • Red Flags: Film is best for kids over five, as issues of losing a parent can be somewhat traumatic. In the end, Annie finds that her real parents are dead but her plucky lovable
  • Further Viewing: Some parents may remember a Carol Burnett version of Annie produced in 1982. For other films about homelessness and orphans, try Oliver! (click here for our chapter on this two years ago), The Pursuit of Happyness (click here for what we said last year); this year's sleeper hit may well be Slumdog Millionaire, which we adore and urge parents to watch (Rated R, so not for kids).

Our Tips for Talking with your Kids about this Film:

Source Savvy: The televised musical was based on a Tony Award winning play from the late 70s that ran for about eight years. The play was based on Harold Gray's successful comic strip, Little Orphan Annie. Ask your kids why they think this simple story survived? And, can they imagine the story serialized in the comics, without the music?


Talking About Money with KOTC's Family Financial Expert Nathan Dungan

Founder of Share Save, Author of Prodigal Sons and Material Girls:  How Not To Be Your Child's ATM (2003) and Personal Finance:  A Lifetime Responsibility (textbook for high school students).

Conversation Tips for Talking about Money and Values: Nathan Dungan of Share Save

National Listening Day: Tips for recording your family's stories from Story Corps

Time Allotment: One hour - a lifetime

Age Recommendation: Over six

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom from Nathan Dungan, Founder of Share Save, about starting a multi-generational conversation about money and values -- whether by telephone or just propped on the couch after pumpkin pie, here are some questions to spur a meaty conversation:

  • What kinds of presents do you remember getting for the holidays when you were young? (Great Aunt Millie remembered receiving necessities, like hand-knit sweaters and socks.  We remembered Chrissie dolls and Erector Sets -- not a single electronic gift in site)
  • What is your most treasured possession and why does it bring you so much happiness? (Grandpa told told our kids about how, during the Depression, his parents could not afford to buy him a Boy Scout uniform and his most treasured gift was the Boy Scout sweater he received for the holidays.  Then, he pulled it out and gave it to our youngest son!  Talk about a treasured memory.)
  • Who taught you about money and what impact did it have on your current money habits? (This question evoked some puzzling expressions until Grandma talked about how, on Black Monday, her family's life changed forever when their entire life savings disappeared over night.  She talked about how her parents saved for a rainy day, but how her mom always made sure she had a few small luxuries, like her favorite lip stick).
  • What one family experience (time as a family)  is the most memorable for you?  (This one got our kids going, and they really surprised us with the stories in their memory banks.  They delighted their grandparents with memories of playing scrabble and catch, uncles with talking about their day at the ice skating rink and us parents, with talking about family walks around the block and days building sand castles at the beach.)
  • How can we make the holidays more meaningful this year?  (Thanksgiving is a good time to get this discussion started, so if you plan on down-sizing or changing your traditions, kids aren't disappointed at Holiday time. Our family is assigning a Secret Santa, rather than gifting everyone in the extended family, as well as making a pact among adults not to exchange presents at all. We are also starting a new tradition of giving gifts of time, so that Dad wraps up a monthly round of golf with one child, and a nightly cup of tea with teenage daughter.)
  • Want More Great Advice from Nathan Dungan:  Click here to sign up for his monthly newsletter.  We subscribed, and love it!  Or, click here to purchase his book, Prodigal Sons and Material Girls:  How NOT To Be Your Child's ATM (2003), available in our Amazon store.
How To Discuss A Job Loss With Kids:  For many families, tough times are hard to talk about with kids, but according to Nathan Dungan, it is an important conversation.  If you or someone you know has lost their job, click here to read Nathan's advice that was just published by The Chicago Tribune. 

Our Tips for Extending this Adventure:

  • Nathan Dungan and  Nathan Dungan's excellent website and book Prodigal Sons and Material Girls: How Not to Be Your Child's ATM both offer practical wisdom on the topic of raising kids with sound ideas about money in an age of materialism run rampant. Teaching about these subjects takes patience, and doesn't happen overnight. We like Nathan Dungan's advice so much that we've asked him to help us with four money-oriented chapters in 2009; he'll take families through the paces of allowances, savings accounts, giving to charity and teaching kids to spend wisely. For now, we are focused on his basic idea of asking yourself whether every purchase is a NEED or a WANT. Simple idea with a potentially revolutionary result for kids and adults.
  • National Day of Listening: StoryCorps has declared Friday, November 28 a day when we should take an hour to listen to the story of someone we love.  Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to record a conversation for posterity.  We can't wait to get started on our new Thanksgiving tradition, and hope you will join in the fun!
  • Teaching Financial Literacy: It's easy to neglect teaching your kids about money, but in fact every parent should be as concerned with money habits as they are about good eating habits or manners. A plethora of new sites have been springing up that help kids learn good money habits: Give Me 20 (whose motto is stop being your child's ATM) and The Mint which has games and projects designed to help kids and teens get financially organized and motivated.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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