The other day I heard a story about a man hitting a big rock with a hammer and I thought it was a great way to help teach my kids (and other kids) an important lesson about money.
The story went like this:
A lady was walking through a park and saw a man hammering a huge rock.
She asked the man what he was doing. He said “The rock is blocking the path so I want to break the rock into smaller pieces so I can move it.”
“How long have you been hammering this rock?” asked the lady.
“About 3 weeks now” replied the man.
The lady thought the man was crazy as the rock was so big and, he’d hardly made a crack.
The lady wished him luck and carried on.
The next week the lady was again walking through the park and saw the same man. He was still hammering away at the rock.
It still didn’t look there were any cracks.
She felt sorry for him but just politely said hello and carried on with her day.
The same thing happened the next week. She was starting to think he was really wasting his time and should give up. As she didn’t know the man that well, however, she didn’t feel it was her place to say anything so just went about her business as usual.
Then another week went past and the man was still hammering away at the rock. Each time see saw him, she got a little more frustrated in that he was doing something without any sign of results.
Then one day, she finally felt she had to say something.
“You’ve been hammering this rock for nearly two months and there isn’t a single crack,how about you just give up!”
The man smiled and carried on. Just as the lady was waking away there was a huge cracking sound. She turned around and saw the rock had been split into a number of smaller pieces.
Without a word, the man started to pick up the small pieces of rock and cleared the entire path.
The key message from this story is that just because we don’t see results straight away from taking small positive actions, you shouldn’t give up!
Applying this story to help your kids learn about saving money
This story can apply to many different parts of our lives. For example, a lot of people give up dieting or going to the gym as they don’t see any ‘cracks’ (results) appear in the short term.
Specifically in terms of teaching your kids about money, this story educates them about patience and consistency. Both of these characteristics are needed when saving. If you save a few pounds here and there, it might not seem like much in the short term but if you keep saving (hammering) then over time great things will happen.
The lady in this story is now more likely to appreciate the benefits of small actions as she witnessed it first hand. This is what we as parents need to show our kids.
For my girls, we invest their savings each month and show them their savings as Blue Trees. As they save more, and their investments grow, their Blue Tree forest also grows. As they are young, their Blue Tree forest is relatively small. As they get older their forest will gradually get bigger. By the time they are adults, they will have a lot more Blue Trees and they will have seen first-hand their forest grow slowly but surely over the years.
We can all tell our kids that money can make money if you save or invest but it might not feel real to them. If they can actually witness their money growing over time they are much more likely to retain this experience and carry on saving when they become adults.
I’d strongly recommend that you as parents start saving for your kids (if you aren’t already), no matter how small, and get into the routine of showing them their savings regularly (weekly or monthly). Whilst it might not look like much has changed each time, you can refer back to the man with the hammer and let them know that their small amount of savings will eventually add up.
"Patience is the superpower of the wealthy!"
Training your kids to be patient
In addition to telling your kids the above story, look for other ways to teach your kids to be patient. This doesn't just have to be in respect of money.
Tips to train your kids to be patient:
Keep it small - For example, encourage them to save some chocolate for tomorrow. Don’t get them to save the whole bar, just a square or two. The same with money. Allow them to spend most of their money but encourage them to save just a little bit. This makes the process much easier.
Reward their patience - If they are saving up for something, say you’ll contribute to it if they get close to their target. If they have money in a piggy bank, add a few extra coins as a reward. Life will reward them for patience, and help them see the rewards early. If they do save a bit of chocolate for tomorrow, give them an extra little treat. The more they see that patience is rewarded now, the more they'll be patient as they grow up. The sooner they learn, the better.
I’d recommend you tell your kids the 'Hammer and the Rock Story’. Get them to understand that small actions can have big outcomes but the outcomes can take time to show.
Start saving for them now and show them their savings regularly - over time they’ll have both a good amount in savings but more importantly, a patient savings mindset!
Remember, the 3rd Rule of Wealth is 'Be patient' - you can learn more about the 3 Rules of Wealth here.
Don't forget to help other families by sharing this blog.
Thanks for reading!