When it comes to teaching kids about money, the approach is likely to vary depending on the parent's financial circumstances.
Let me first tell you a story which will help show what I mean by this.
The Poor Student
Angela was preparing her own stall to sell drinks outside the school’s basketball court. It was a big match for the school so she knew lots of people would be coming.
The school allowed her to sell her homemade drinks as long as she cleaned up all the rubbish from the court afterwards. Angela was happy to do this as she wanted to collect the cups that hadn’t been broken so she could clean them and reuse them. You see, Angela needed to be careful with money as it was just her and mum at home and they really didn’t have much money.
As Angela was cleaning up the rubbish, left behind after the game, the basketball players came out. They were all happy as they had just won, again.
Derrick, the captain of the team, was holding a drink. He saw Angela and shouted “Here’s another cup for you to pick up” as he threw his cup toward Angela. The whole team started laughing.
Angela hated the basketball players. They always treated her badly and would make jokes about how poor she was.
After the next game, the situation was worse. The basketball players stayed much longer after the game as they were all celebrating the fact that they had been accepted to their chosen universities. Not only did this mean Angela had to listen to them all say nasty things to her for a few extra hours, but it also reminded her that she wasn’t going to go to university. For Angela, university fees were too high and she needed to start earning more money to support her mum. She, therefore, went searching for a job.
The Interview ….
4 years had passed and Derrick had finished university and just got back from a trip around the world, thanks to his rich parents.
He was getting ready for a big interview to work at an investment bank in the city. His Dad had managed to get him the interview as he was well known in the industry.
As Derrick was approaching the main door to the building, he saw Angela approaching carrying 8 big cups of coffee.
Derrick was going to laugh at her as she was clearly working as a delivery girl, given she was also in casual clothes, but he actually felt sorry for her. He even held the door open so she wouldn’t spill the coffee.
Derrick went up to the interview room. He was super confident as he got top grades at university and everyone in the investment industry knew his dad. He sat for a while before the assistant showed him into the interview room.
When he walked in, he was shocked to see Angela sitting in an expensive-looking dress on the other side of the table. She was going to be interviewing him.
“You’re probably surprised to see me here aren’t you Derrick!” Said Angela with a stern look on her face.
Derrick’s mind was racing. He was confused and certain he wasn’t going to get his dream job as he’d been so nasty to Angela at school.
Angela explained that after finishing school, she applied for an assistant job at the investment firm. She had impressed at her interview as she had taught herself about investing during school as her mum had always told her stories of people who had come from nothing but gone on to be a success, like the Millionaire Janitor, as they had learned to invest their money.
Angela continued to share with Derrick that as she was typing up the team’s notes about their clever investment ideas, she would point out potential issues with their strategies. You see, Angela had been investing for most of her childhood. Even though she was only investing with very small amounts of money, she actually had many more years of experience compared to most people in the investment team. The team would then revise their investment ideas based on what Angela told them.
Also, all her years of selling her homemade drinks to the basketball team and their fans meant that Angela was able to help the team sell their ideas to their clients. Despite being younger and less formally educated, her real-world experience put her ahead of the others in the team and she was promoted to be a team member and then the team leader. She was now looking for a new recruit for the team.
“What about the coffees you were delivering as I walked in?” asked Derrick.
“Every Wednesday, after I go to the gym, I buy my team their favourite coffees from my favourite coffee shop, " said Angela.
Derrick felt so bad for treating her badly at school.
They then proceeded with the interview. Angela asked a lot of questions about his experience of working and investing. Derrick had little work experience as his parents had lots of money and would pay for everything for him, so he never felt the need to work.
Derrick wasn’t very confident but gave his best answers and tried to highlight his grades from university.
The phone call …
The next day Derrick got a phone call. He thought it was Angela’s time to get her revenge on him for being so nasty when they were younger.
He picked up the phone “Hello, Derrick here!”
“What’s your favourite type of coffee? I want to make sure I order the right one next Wednesday” Said Angela.
Derrick couldn’t believe it - he had just been given the job.
“I was certain you wouldn’t give me the job after I was so mean to you at school. I thought this was your chance to get revenge” said Derrick.
Angela said she thought that but then remembered something her mum had told her
“An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind!”.
She said that despite her mum not having much money, she’d taught Angela that she had to be kind no matter what. People who are bullies usually have a reason for the behaviour and if you don’t show them kindness, then they will never change.
“I’m therefore giving you the job as you are clearly very clever and hard-working. However, if I ever hear of you not treating everyone with kindness then you will be fired. I also hope that if you ever have kids that you will tell them to never judge someone based on how much money their parents have. Just like you judged me.”
“I promise!” Said Derrick.
Derrick and Angela worked together for many years, with Angela sharing what she had learned through her years of selling and investing as she grew up.
Derrick never bullied anyone ever again!
Money lessons from the story
There are many money lessons from this story, but I wanted to focus on the mindset that Angela and Derrick's parents instilled in their kids.
Angela’s mum might not have had much money but she still helped her daughter grow up with a mindset that she could always be wealthy in the future if she learned to look after her money and invest.
Derrick’s parents had money yet never took the time to help him learn about the value of money. He became entitled (as he looked down on those who had less money).
As mentioned at the start of the blog, how parents teach their kids about money varies depending on the circumstances. If you don’t have much money, make sure your kids have the mindset that they can become wealthy, if they look after their money by following the three rules of wealth.
If you do have money, make sure your kids appreciate the value of money. Allow them to experience what it takes to earn money and be without money for a period of time. Maybe you could do a ‘No Money Day’.
The story also highlights the importance of kids learning about investing and selling, something I’ve talked to my kids about. You can read more about teaching your kids about these topics here:
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Thanks for reading!
p.s. This blog also focused on kindness, which is a theme throughout my book, Grandpa’s Fortune Fables (fun stories to teach kids about money). You can read the first two chapters of the book for free here