How I Will Raise Money-Smart Kids (Not Spoiled Kids)
"How can we be the future if you're not going to teach us about money, which is our future?"
I don't have kids, so this will sort of be my manifesto for when I do. It will also serve as a snapshot of my thoughts at this point in my life. I know perspectives often change especially when there is an actual human being in the picture so I hope this helps me navigate how I want to raise kids that understand what money can do so that I may set them on a good financial path. These are my thoughts today. It could be different tomorrow as the world changes and I change. My husband's perspective and plans will be different. At some point, we will have to compromise as our goal, in the end, is to provide a good financial background for our future kids.
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Part of the impetus of this article is because I just recently finished "The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money" by Ron Lieber, personal finance columnist for The New York Times.
I hope to be able to re-visit this post in the future, build on it, or modify it in a way that serves all of us positively in the future.
They Will Do Chores and Not Get Paid
I came from a Filipino family with two other siblings. We did not get an allowance like all of the other regular American kids. My sister and I had to do chores around the house, no questions but definitely some complaints. Early on, some Saturdays, my sister and I had to clean the bathroom (only one thankfully for a few years), dust the living room (with all of my mom's delicate collectibles) and do laundry. On Sundays, we had to iron our Catholic school uniforms, pleats and all, which is why I continue to stay away from irons to this day. After every dinner, my sister and I would always have to do the dishes. If you've ever seen that episode of "Fresh Off the Boat" where the kids realize they had a dishwasher, but were forced to hand wash dishes, that's us and continues to be. My sister and I would fight about whose turn it was and learned to negotiate with each other. A few years later too, we had to take care of our youngest sister, who is 13 years younger. All without expectation of pay.
We didn't really know what an allowance was except for when we started hearing about it from our friends and on the TV. We didn't have a need to buy our own things. Our parents provided the necessities and occasionally money for snacks and books, but we didn't call it in an allowance or pay for doing chores.
In the book, Lieber mentions that for a period of time, the arrival of children was celebrated "as the arrival of a future laborer" but over time, as we moved away from farms and families dispersed into cities and on their own, we moved towards a society where "a child is simply not expected to be useful." The irony is that kids like to work and they should be given the chance to do so. Of course, we are not forcing them to harsh labor, but giving them a chance to learn what it feels like to do something on your own and be satisfied with their own accomplishments.
For me, doing chores prepared me more for life than any prep class I've ever taken. We fear making kids do chores as it takes time away from their studies or extracurricular activities, but learning to do something as simple as laundry instead of outsourcing it to someone else can be satisfying. I felt bad for my peers who didn't know how to operate a washing machine or how much laundry detergent to add on our second week in college.
They Will Do the Save, Give, Spend Jar
Children are out in the world seeing ads on TV, the internet and on social media. We have to arm them to know money and what a need versus a want is. This is important. It boggles my mind that to this day that children can graduate from college with thousands of student loan debt and not realize what it means and how to manage it. How are they expected to manage money properly if we don't teach them early on?
I never did this growing up, but I find value in the exercise of the Save, Give, Spend jars. A part of this is understanding what it means to Save, Give and Spend. Saving in itself takes time and patience. Giving is about generosity. Spending is about understanding needs vs. wants. It's rare that we are taught this so I want to make sure my kids know how to handle money and are open to having a conversation about it.
One thing too that I've come to realize is that sometimes, kids do not see that we Save or Give because everything is done in the background. I don't want them to assume that mom and dad do not Save or Give or that Spending means using a credit card all of the time. Some of these things need tangible examples and I hope these jars can show that.
They Will Get Part-Time Jobs
One of the best learning experiences for me was working at a movie theater when I was 17. It was my first job. I worked weekends and one weekday per week on top of juggling AP classes as a senior, college applications, tennis practices and editing the school's literary magazine. It was by far the best way for me to learn how to manage my time, earn money and understand the true effects of being on your feet for 6 hours a night.
Lieber pointed that out many affluent families in achievement-oriented communities fear that part-time jobs affect children's grades and college admissions. I see his point in this, but I also feel like having a good work ethic is as important in the long-run as good grades and academic recognition. I also believe that having a part-time job provides skills not readily taught in skills. Skills like managing people, learning to handle stressful situations, handling money and time management. It also provides a different perspective as they grow up as they know what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.
They Will Spend A Few Months Out of the Year in Other Countries
I grew up in the Philippines. Life there was very different from life in the US. We moved when I was nine years old. I grew up without a lot of technology and in a place that was safe enough for me to be out all day, exploring and getting creative with neighborhood kids to find entertainment. I want the same thing for my children.
Of course, I want my children to grow up in a great neighborhood, but what this will mean, in reality too though is that they will be sheltered from what else is happening from the rest of the world. I don't want them to ignore or take for granted what they have. I want them to appreciate what they have, learn other cultures, learn that other people have less than them, have more than them and be OK with where they fall in the spectrum.
I hope they will get a chance to experience a simpler life in the Philippines. I hope they will get a chance to experience culture in Turkey (where my husband is from). I want them to appreciate what else the world has to offer, be generous in helping others and learn to figure out what to value.
They Will Know How Much The Bills Are
I didn't really know much things cost growing up. Yes, I had a sense of prices, but never to the extent of how much life and time did my parents have to put in to get be able to afford those things. it's amazing how much people want to shelter their kids from money, from worrying about bills or the costs of things, but I feel that doing so can be a detriment to their future. Money is everyone's future. We sometimes think of money as bad or good, but money is just a tool and like anything else, it's important that we teach them the skills to handle it properly.
We spend money on the things that we value. I want my kids to know what that means. I want them to know the reasons we forgo certain expenditures and why we spend more on other things. I want them to get this information from me instead of a neighbor, a friend or the internet. I want them to realize it costs money to live. I want them to understand why we select certain items for their utility and sustainability so that we use things up to save money and reduce waste. I want them to know why we turn off lights, why we don't run the water and why we are conscious of what we buy and spend money on.
They Will Have a Positive Money Mindset
In the end, money is in the future of our kids. I want them to have a good relationship with money. We've talked about money mindset in some past articles here and I want to make sure that we instill money management practices that will help our kids flourish in all aspects of life. After all, the kids will eventually leave our care and we want them to be comfortable talking about money with their significant other and with their future children.
I hope to refer back to this article a few years from now and confirm my thinking or pivot where we need to go.
Have you read The Opposite of Spoiled? How are you planning or raising your kids to think about money differently? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the FI world, there is this concept called Second Generation FIRE, what does that mean to you? Do you know how you will teach your kids about money? How are you raising 2nd generation FIRE? Let us know in the comments below.