When it comes to money, there are three different aspects which we need to focus on:
Knowledge - what we know about different money topics, e.g. debt, investing, tax
Habits - what actions we take with our money
Mindset - how we feel about money
As parents, we need to consider each of these when thinking about money (both for yourself and your kids) as they are all really important.
In this blog, I have written a story (or 'Fortune Fable' as I now call them) to help our kids avoid a MINDSET which can lead to them spending a lot of their money.
The Dragon who wanted to be a Princess (Fortune Fable)
There once lived a dragon whose job was to protect the castle of a princess. The King had given strict instructions to the dragon to scare away any princes who came to try and take his daughter away from him.
The dragon thought her job was so boring as nothing really happened. She’d just fly around looking at the castle. Every now and then she’d breathe out fire just for fun. Luckily, her job was only from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday. Other dragons would come along and protect the castle the other times.
Each morning, the dragon would watch the princess as she would go horse riding in the courtyard, dress up in pretty clothes, paint pictures, play games and eat amazing food. The dragon wanted nothing more than to be the Princess, even for a day! On the weekends, the dragon would even pretend to be a princess by wearing a crown and drinking cups of tea.
Then, one day, the Princess’s Fairy Godmother came to visit the castle. Each year, the Fairy Godmother would offer the Princess a wish. Last year she wished for a horse and sure enough the Princess had the most beautiful horse you’ve ever seen.
The dragon was eagerly waiting to find out what the Princess was going to wish for this year. After a day at the castle, the Fairy Godmother left the castle. As she was leaving, she waved for the dragon to come down. Confused, the dragon flew down to meet her. The Fairy Godmother then told the dragon something that completely shocked her.
“As you know, each year I grant the Princess a wish” said the Fairy Godmother “This year she has asked if she can swap places with you for one week. Would you be happy to swap places with her? She understands, if you don't want to.”
The dragon didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t believe that the Princess wanted to do something so nice for her.
“Wow - what have I done to deserve this? Of course, of course, I will accept!”
The Fairy Godmother then did a magic spell and boom! In a puff of smoke the dragon was in the Princess’s bedroom. She looked in the mirror and sure enough she was a princess.
She knew she only had one week so wanted to make sure she made the most of it. She ran down to the courtyard to ride on the horse, then got the paints out to draw and eat all the nice food that the castle's chefs had cooked. She couldn’t be happier. She would look up at the sky and see the real princess flying around as a dragon. She was doing loop-the-loop and breathing fire.
After a few days, the dragon (who was now a princess) got up but didn’t feel like horse riding around the courtyard or doing art. She wanted to explore outside of the castle and enjoy going to the village. She’d never been to the village before as all the people are scared of dragons. She assumed that the real princess would go to the village each weekend as she’d never seen her leave the castle during the week.
She got dressed in the finest clothes to go to the local village. After she had her amazing breakfast, she got on her horse and rode to the front gate of the castle. She was so excited. Then as she got to the gate, the guards stopped her. “We’re not allowed to let you out. King’s orders”
The dragon was in shock.
“What do you mean? I’m the Princess, surely I can leave my castle”
“Nope - the King has told us that it’s too dangerous and that you must stay here” replied the guards.
The dragon turned the horse around and went back to her room. She was so disappointed. She didn’t feel like doing anything for the rest of the day.
She was now excited for the end of the week when she’d be a dragon again and fly wherever she wanted. It was then she realised why the Princess wanted to be a dragon.
After a week, the dragon was back to being a dragon. She flew high and far that weekend and was couldn't be happier of the life she had.
When she went back to work, she saw the Princess in a completely different way. She was still riding her horse but it was clear the princess wasn’t happy.
The dragon decided to fly to the courtyard. She waved for the Princess to come over and climb on her back. She could see the excitement in the Princess as she came running over. The dragon took the Princess wherever she wanted to go. She made sure the Princess was back to the castle before anyone realised she had gone. They did this every day.
Key messages from this story
Whilst having lots of nice things appears nice, it’s nothing if you don’t have freedom.
There are a few different money conversations you can have with your kids after reading this story to them.
“Freedom is the goal”
This story helps kids appreciate that happiness comes from freedom. Money is a tool which can help provide freedom if you look after it. This is such an important lesson to teach kids. Many adults today would love to retire early and do the things they love but due to the lifestyle they are now living, and the money they have already spent, it’s really hard for them to do that. If your kids learn to look after their money, they will have the freedom to do all the things they want to do.
This point is one of the key messages from my most popular blog ‘Rich Kids vs Wealthy Kids’.
“Comparison is the biggest killer of happiness”
At the start of the story, the dragon was unhappy as she didn’t have all the nice things that the Princess had. What she didn’t realise was that the Princess was not happy and would rather be the dragon.
We should make sure our kids don’t grow up comparing themselves to others. This will only make them unhappy, especially as most people only show the good things in their lives. Another story you might like to help your kids learn about this point is the ‘Invisible Slime Story’.
Happiness comes from being grateful for what you do have. We don’t want our kids chasing happiness - you can learn more about why this is so important by reading my blog ‘The Happiness Advantage’.
“The castle is debt”
When it comes to money, debt is the castle. People who use credit cards and loans to buy things they can’t afford will feel like the dragon when she first became the Princess in the castle. They’ll have lots of nice things to show to people. However, they will soon realise that they can only borrow so much and that they need to repay what they have borrowed. Soon enough, they can’t afford to go out to see friends and do the things they want to do. Just like the Princess, stuck in the castle.
To help teach your kids about debt then I’d recommend you read this blog.
I hope you read this story with your kids. Remember, taking a small bit of time to help your kids learn about money can make a huge difference to their financial future.
P.S. If your kids enjoy this dragon story, they will probably also enjoy 'The Dragon that Pooped too much! ' story as well.
Recap of links mentioned in the blog: