How a Woman’s Startup Is Helping Sow Seeds for Kids’ Financial Future

New York City mom Tanya Van Court launched the platform Sow to break what she calls the “broken gift-giving process” and teach kids how to manage money at a young age in one fell swoop. 

Tanya Van Court and her children, Gabrielle and Hendrix
Tanya Van Court and her children, Gabrielle and Hendrix Courtesy of Tanya Van Court

Usually, when we think about teaching kids the importance of saving and handling money, it starts with a piggy bank into which they stuff a dollar or two until they reach a particular goal, smash it open and spend it all on that one thing.

However, Brooklyn, N.Y., mom Tanya Van Court came up with a better and more effective idea to teach kids not only to save toward actual goals but also share some while spending a little.

Van Court got the idea when her daughter, Gabrielle, who was about to turn 9, requested for her birthday enough money to finish saving for an investment account and a new bike.

“I knew that for her birthday she was likely not going to get either one of those fulfilled, and instead she was going to get a whole bunch of stuff like she’s gotten for every preceding birthday,” Van Court explained to The Root.

You know those gifts, the umpteenth doll/electronic device/*insert random game here* that your children may or may not play with, and five months later, you find it underneath their beds because they didn’t really want or need it.

And so Van Court created Sow, which, she explains, is rooted in the hope of fixing the “broken gift-giving process” by allowing young people to register for goals, instead of material goods, and turning the mentality to one of saving, sharing and spending.

The idea is that children in this scenario have three options to which they can work toward. They have something they would like to save for in the future, like college. They have something they just like and want to spend money on, like a sweet new pair of sneakers; and finally, they have a cause that they’d like to share money with, like a charity.  

They fill out each of these categories on their Sow profile, and on special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays, in lieu of gifts that they may not actually want, friends and family can contribute money directly toward selected options to help the little ones achieve their various goals.

Eventually, Van Court hopes, the platform will evolve and grow to become a place for good recommendations on how to open an investment account, where to save money and how to make the right financial decisions, so that young people can have their money invested in smart financial vehicles.

“We have this amazing exchange of money or financial goods that is happening all throughout the year for young people, but we’re not teaching them anything good about money during those times,” Van Court added. “Sow is a platform that helps to teach young people healthy financial habits that will last a lifetime. And the foremost of those healthy financial habits is to really focus on creating goals, because goal creation is the first step to wealth creation.”