Money know-how in your family
I love being a grandparent. The joy of children without the 24/7 responsibility of being a parent. Or as one of my clients so eloquently put it, “You can hand them back at the end of the day...”
Children copy their parents and the 'elders' in their family. That's how they learn. This is never more the case than with money and attitudes towards money. Much of what we learn from our parents about money is unconscious – it just seeps into us and gradually becomes our way of doing things too. My children are in their thirties I recognise some of their behaviour around money. I know where they learnt it. Some, not all alas, is good.
I realise of course that my relationship with money has been directly affected by my experiences as a child. My Dad was entrepreneurial, a risk taker, a worker and blamed himself terribly when things went wrong. My Mum recognised early on that money could buy status and so she focused on acquisition, rather than happiness, and was ever fearful that we hadn't got enough. Her focus, bless her, was actually on never having enough.
It's shocking to see these themes present in my own life. And yet how could it not be so? What we say and teach our children about money is really important. So imagine my delight when I came across Ron Lieber's 'The Opposite of Spoilt.' It is a brilliant manual to help you teach your children good habits around money. In teaching them and modelling the right behaviours you will learn so much yourself.
Think of it as some clever software that you can gradually introduce into their brains to help inoculate them against the relentless 'must haves' and peer pressure of a consumerist economy. An economy that judges us on what we have and less on who we are.
Here is one simple idea from the book. Give your child three jars and help them to label each jar 'Spend' 'Save' 'Give'. So the money they receive is always divided into three:
1. Some to spend on whatever they want. This is important. Because they will want to spend it all on sweets or one thing. That's fine. Once spent, there is no more. We quickly learn about consequences.
2. Some to save for a future need or want, something that's desirable. Huge lesson, you can have anything you want, but it takes time and it costs, so make sure you really want it.
3. Some to Give to someone who needs it more than we do. Here then is the root of compassion, a direct understanding of the power of money and how part of why we're here is to help others.
Those three jars actually represent the basis of the financial plans that I help my adult clients to create. Wouldn't it be fabulous if these simple ideas were hard-wired into our kids, giving them the best chance of coping with the temptations and challenges they will inevitably face? What if their future decisions around money were driven by an innate understanding of how it works and what it means to have peace of mind?
I am offering a copy of Ron Lieber's marvellous book to the first email out of the hat on Friday 15th January. Just email your name and phone number to enter the draw.
And for the grandparents out there...here is your chance to do it better!