In most of my blogs, I focus on things parents could do to help their kids grow up financially healthy and wealthy. In this blog, I’m focusing on what parents SHOULDN’T do when it comes to teaching their kids about money. Children learn about money from what they see and hear from the adults around them. Even if we think what we say or do is small or flippant, it can stick in a child’s mind for a long time. Below I go through 3 common phrases that many parents can easily say and feel won’t make an impact but they really do. I set out what impact they could have and why avoiding them is so important. I note that I’m not suggesting that the complete opposite of these statements is true either.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees”
This statement is so easy to say, especially when kids are badgering you for some money to buy a new toy or game. Whilst it might feel like a flippant statement, in a child’s mind it shouts “Money is limited and hard to come by”. It’s really important for kids to grow up believing that money is in abundance and there are lots of opportunities for it to come to them. It’s only with this mindset that they will put in the right habits and actions needed to fulfil this belief. If your kids are badgering you for money, consider saying things like: “There are lots of ways you can earn and save money to buy that yourself” (highlighting that money isn’t hard to come by if they look for opportunities to earn and save). “We have the money but we value spending it on other things for the family” (highlighting that money isn’t limited but you value where you spend it) Remember to get your kids to think of money like seeds. Whilst money doesn’t grow on trees, it can grow like seeds if planted (saved/invested). This simple analogy can help them appreciate that money can grow and isn’t limited.
“Money doesn’t buy happiness”
There is an element of truth to the statement, I’ve met a lot of people who have plenty of money but don’t appear happy. However, it’s not completely true and can lead kids to believe the opposite is true, i.e. that having money makes you sad, which is not what we want kids to believe. When we lived in Vietnam, we saw firsthand that you don’t need a lot of money to be happy. People there had a lot less than most people in the western world, yet were some of the happiest and kindest people we’ve ever met. That being said, there are two areas where money and happiness are linked.
If you don’t have money, then worrying about the ability to pay for your bills can be extremely stressful and impact negatively on your happiness.
If you look after it, help it grow and keep your expenses managed, then it can bring freedom. Having the freedom to do what you want, when you want is a major factor when it comes to happiness.
It’s best to teach kids that money is just a tool. Just having lots of tools doesn’t make you happy, it’s what you do with the tools you have that determines your happiness.
“Money brings out the worst in people”
I can see where this statement comes from. There are some shocking stories about rich people exploiting their wealth and power. There are many people who show off their riches to make themselves feel good and belittle others who don’t have money. There are plenty of ‘Rich Jerks’ out there (Richie Raccoon at the start of Grandpa’s Fortune Fables [LINK] being one example). Money can highlight the traits of individuals, however, as mentioned earlier in this blog, money is just a tool. It is not the cause of people having these traits. We need to make sure kids know that these examples don’t represent the majority. Unfortunately, like most things in the world, extreme examples get more attention that the majority. Kids might hear more stories about evil rich people, but there are millions of people who have money who use their money to help others. This could be giving to charity, supporting local businesses or starting their own business to create new jobs.
Separating the money lessons from the individuals:
When talking to my daughters, I make sure they don’t just dismiss the ‘rich jerks’. Whilst they might not be someone you like or want to be, you might still learn from them. They still managed to get their money somehow. For example, there is a popular financial guru called Grant Cardone. Personally, I don’t always like the way he comes across, sometimes he seems arrogant and shows off how much money he has. I wouldn’t want my daughters to do that when they are older. That being said, Grant didn’t inherit his wealth and is now a multi-millionaire. I feel it would be crazy to ignore him and not teach my daughter about what he did to get there. In short, Grant Cardone learned how to sell and then taught others how to sell before using his money to buy real estate. He now has a large real-estate portfolio. As you’ll have seen from my previous blogs, I have been very keen to ensure my kids learn to sell and understand that investing in real estate is a way to grow money (when they are older). I note that I'm currently working on a new blog about teaching kids about real estate, so make sure you subscribe below so you don't miss it. In short, money doesn’t make someone unkind/evil, money can be used to help others.
No matter how insignificant you feel the statement is, what we say about money can have a big impact on our kids. We need kids to grow up with a mindset that money is abundant and that there are lots of opportunities to obtain it in the future. It’s only with this mindset will they take the actions and form the habits needed to follow the 3 Rules of Wealth and become financially healthy and wealthy. Therefore, avoid the following 3 phases when speaking with kids: “Money doesn’t grow on trees” “Money doesn’t buy happiness” “Money brings out the worst in people” I’d love to hear if there are other things that you hear parents say about money which should be avoided (email@example.com). If this blog got you thinking about what you say in front of your kids, then please share this blog to help other families. Thanks for reading! Will p.s. One of the main characters in Grandpa’s Fortune Fables grows up hearing negative things about money and therefore believes he will never become wealthy. It’s not until he meets Gail and hears about how her Grandpa came from nothing to become very wealthy that he realises he can be wealthy too. This book could be a great gift for families you know who do talk negatively about money. Copies are available in the UK and Worldwide.