The other day at the pool, my older daughter Lily asked if we could buy her some more pool noodles.
It's not an expensive purchase, but my wife, Jun, reflexively told her, "I don't have any money, ask another day when we have money.
It's not that we don't have the $5 to buy them, but we already have enough and it's just an excuse. This excuse has worked for years until for the first time she asked a follow up question.
Daddy, can you buy more money for us?
She was floating on her yellow noodle in the kid's pool with my wife and other daughter. I sat in the chair next to them working on an article.
I closed my laptop and thought about it for a moment. You know, kids sometimes say one thing and mean something completely different.
I scratched my chin while thinking, like I usually do, but I was stumped. Finally, I responded, "Honey, you can't buy more money. That's not really how it works"
She's only 5, but she's very aware of things. Seeing a teachable moment, my wife chimed in,
Honey, you have to work for money.
I immediately interjected.
That's not true, don't lie to the kids!
Now little Lily's confused.
In general, we don't intentionally disagree with each other in front of the kids. Children are like little sharks that can smell blood from 5 miles away. Once they sniff out a weakness they'll exploit it for the next 10 years.
We were stuck now. Luckily, Lily jumped in to the conversation,
What about at the bank? Don't you buy money there?
It clicked. She understands that you need to buy things at the store and she understands that you get your money from the bank. But, she isn't quite experienced enough to understand how money gets into the bank, so she put it all together and assumed you buy money there.
Pretty smart for 5 years old!
But, the true moral of the story is this. As soon as a question about money arose, we immediately told our kids that the only way to get money is to work for it.
I've spent 3 years on the soap box on this site preaching that working is the worst way to earn money, and that's the first lesson we teach our kids.
As you might remember, we recently dis-enrolled our daughter from public school because of their vision of creating workers. We believe that they should be mentally challenged to grow and learn, not be turned into a worker bee.
But what about money?
Money is such a taboo topic in most households. Parents don't share anything about their income, expenses, budgets, etc.
Honestly, I get it. The last thing I want is for my kids to be going to school and talking about our finances. It's such a first world problem anyhow, "my daddy's horse farm is bigger than your daddy's horse farm!" (Disclosure: I don't own a horse farm.)
But, finances and money are so important to a child's early development. If you want your children to NOT be slaves to money, they need to understand it, how it works, and how to manipulate it. Period.
I don't have all the answers yet because my children are still pretty young, but I have a general idea of what I want to teach them as they grow older. Here are a few of those lessons.
As you might be aware, there are 4 ways to make money - as an employee, self employed, as a business owner, or as an investor.
The goal is to take income from the ESB categories and put it into the I category.
By teaching my kids about all 4 categories where they can earn money, they can more accurately plan their life out at a younger age.
Like I mentioned before in other articles, I don't want them to be boxed into the concept of what they need to be, because their career doesn't define who they are.
Instead, they need to determine what they want to do in life, and figure out how being an employee, self employed, business owner, or investor fits into those life goals. Then they can choose the right path for them.
I've worked really hard for the money I have. I came from nothing. I sacrificed a lot in my life, my body, my relationships, etc to earn the money I have.
Money absolutely does not grow on trees.
But, it kind of does.
If you're smart with your money and invest it wisely, money does kind of come from nowhere.
I want my children to understand that their body and time can create money through hard labor, or you can create money by taking calculated risks and investing properly.
Good investments are like seeds that sprout a lot of good trees...
Money trees, if you will.
I dropped out of a Ph.D. program to get into real estate full time.
...and everyone said I was stupid.
Except, now I earn more and work less than any of my former professors, classmates, etc.
Later, I got my MBA. I only did it because the Army paid for it - in total it cost me around $600 for books, fees, etc. Pretty cheap, right?
Except, it took me 3 years and has earned me exactly $0. I don't even use the letters next to my name (and most of my friends or business associates don't even know I have it).
Some might say it's good to have a backup option. Others might say $0 return on a $600 investment is a bad investment. Especially because it took me 3 years of time I can't get back (fortunately I was a part-time student and didn't stop my business to attend).
The point is that a degree is only worth what you gain from it. Useless degrees for $100k are just that, useless.
I want my kids to understand they should only pursue a degree if their path requires it. Once they set goals and determine how to achieve those goals, they need to decide of an education is required to hit those intermediary steps.
Most people are very secretive of what they earn, spend, invest, etc.
I'm not. I'll teach my children that it's important to talk about money, including your mistakes.
Some people see this as bragging (but only if you have more than them). Others see it as weird, or strange. But, I don't care.
The fact is, hiding financial troubles leads to problems. It leads to people buying more than they can afford, hiding that fact, then facing foreclosure or bankruptcy with none of their friends knowing.
If impressing your friends is important, then impress them with a solid financial foundation. I promise they won't be very impressed when your high spending ways leads to bankruptcy.
Instead, I'm going to be open with my kids about spending, investing, and earning. Hopefully this will teach them to also be open and transparent.
...and when a light is shone into their financial lives, they will be far less likely to make major financial blunders.
Would you teach them these lessons? If not, what would you teach them and why?
Eric is an investor that achieved financial independence at the age of 30. He started in 2009 with the purchase of his first triplex and now owns over 470 units. He spends his time with his family, growing his businesses, diversifying his income, and teaching others how to achieve financial independence through real estate. Eric has been seen on Forbes, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, and other financial publications.
I started out as a full-time student, over $60,000 in debt, and didn't even have a full-time job (two part-time jobs). Learn the system I used to create a 6-figure passive income.
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