"Two twin boys were raised by an alcoholic father. One grew up to be an alcoholic and when asked what happened he said "I watched my father."
The other grew up and never drank in his life. When he was asked what happened he said "I watched my father."
Two boys, same dad, two different perspectives."
I wanted to share this story as we can easily change this to be about money rather than alcohol. In fact, in this short blog I’m going to talk about two alternative versions of the above story which both focus on money.
Alternative Story 1 - Parents In Debt
“Two twin boys were raised by parents who have a lot of credit card debt. One grew up using credit cards as he followed his parents' example. The other grew up avoiding debt at all costs so as not to repeat his parents' mistakes. Two boys, same parents, two different perspectives.”
Many parents who are struggling financially believe that their kids are probably never going to grow up to be financially healthy. As the story shows, this doesn’t have to be the case. With the right mindset, kids can learn from the struggles of their parents and lead a completely different life (in terms of money).
Recently I have been a guest on a number of podcasts and have been asked "What should parents, who are in financial difficulty, do or say to their kids about money?" My answer is to talk openly about money but focus on the positives.
For parents who are in debt and find money stressful, reflect on what you’ve learned from your money experience. Talk to your kids about the positive changes you would have made if you had the opportunity to do things differently. Talk about the things you did spend your money on that you really enjoyed, e.g. holidays.
Remember, not talking about money means kids will grow up believing money is a bad thing, just like swearing. As a result, they will avoid talking about money, thinking about money and wanting anything to do with money. This mindset is unlikely to lead them to grow up financially healthy.
No matter how much you struggle with money, all parents have the ability to encourage their kids to save a little bit of money every time they receive some. This will help them form a savings habit. This savings habit can be life changing as it means their kids will grow up spending less than they earn, i.e. they will follow the first rule of wealth.
Alternative Story 2 - Wealthy Parents
“Two twin girls grow up with very wealthy parents. One grew up to be wealthy herself as she was inspired by her parents. The other twin walked into financial difficulty as she relied heavily on her parents to pay for everything as she was growing up. Two girls, same parents, two different perspectives.”
This story is more of a warning to those parents who assume that ‘As I’m doing well, my kids will do well too!’. You can’t take it for granted that our kids will be inspired to work as hard as you to achieve what you have achieved. In fact, they might have less motivation to work hard and look after their money as they are experiencing a good life without too much work.
The most famous example of this is the Vanderbilt family. The Vanderbilt's, who were once the richest family in America, lost most of their vast wealth over 3 generations as the children (and grandchildren) were never trained to be good with money and therefore all started to break the 3 Rules of Wealth. You can read more about the Vanderbilt family here.
It’s really important that all parents help their kids understand the importance of earning money themselves and following the 3 Rules of Wealth. If they follow these rules then they will grow up to be financially healthy.
Again, make sure you talk to your kids about money and your experiences in an open and positive manner.
One book I’d recommend on this topic is called ‘The Opposite of Spoiled’ (New York Times Bestseller) by Ron Lieber.
These stories show that our kids’ futures are determined by their perspectives. Our job as parents is to help them form a positive perception, and attitude, towards money,
This means we have to be proactive in terms of talking to our kids about money. We don’t want to leave their financial future to chance.
Tell your kids the alcoholic father story - this helps them to realise that their future isn’t pre-determined.
Start talking to your kids about money in an open and positive manner.
Help them to start following the 3 Rules of Wealth so they form the habits of the financially healthy.
Thanks for reading!