I love hearing how different parents approach the topic of money with their kids. In this blog, I want to share with you how, one of my readers, a father, used his son's interest in Pokémon cards to teach him about money.
There are 3 key things that I thought were really interesting about his approach to teaching his kids which I wanted to share.
A short story about how a young boy learned about money using Pokémon cards
8-year-old Elvis heard that his cousins were playing with Pokémon cards and even entering Pokemon tournaments. Not only did they play tournaments, they would share what cards they had with their friends and others on Facebook (with their parents' help). There was a real community feeling about playing with these cards. The young boy decided he wanted some Pokémon cards himself. Using his own pocket money, Elvis bought his first cards from a family friend.
Over time he continued to build up his card collection. After a few months of collecting, he realised he didn’t need all his cards. He decided to sell the ones he didn’t really want or need. As there was a Family Fun Day in his town, he set up his own stall, with his younger brother and sister, to sell his cards. In this process he made a whopping $184.
Pokémon cards weren’t very popular at the young boy’s school. After Elvis had set up his stall at the Family Fun Day, however, more kids started to show an interest. Soon there were many kids playing with Pokémon and the demand for his cards grew.
Soon enough he was playing in tournaments and was part of the local Pokemon community. Whilst playing, he realised that over time certain cards were becoming more or less popular. He thought he could use this to his advantage when buying and selling cards.
The first thing he did was to do more research about what card series were making a lot of positive noises (Facebook and Pokémon forums). He would then find local Pokémon card sellers to see if they had the card series that were trending. He felt he could buy these now and sell them for much more as more people started talking about them. That’s exactly what happened. He soon expanded his reach by speaking with people selling the cards in other states and ended up selling his cards for three times versus what he originally paid for them.
Each time he received some money from selling his cards, he would save some of the money for something he wanted to buy and use some to buy more Pokemon cards either for his own pleasure or to sell for more profit.
Throughout this story, I didn’t mention Elvis' father. He was instrumental to this story. His father was the one who encouraged Elvis to see the opportunities to buy and sell Pokémon cards. He asked the question ``How can you sell more cards?" which led to the Family Fun Day stall. He enabled Elvis to research on the internet (safely) for trending card series. He would drive his son to tournaments to learn about the Pokémon community and drive him to places to buy and sell cards.
Three lessons we can learn about this father’s approach
ONE: Make learning about money engaging
The first and key lesson is to make talking about money engaging. The great thing about this story is that the father didn’t sit them down and say, ‘Today we are going to talk about money’. That’s probably the quickest way for kids to lose interest in learning about money. Instead, he asked questions and used the Pokémon cards to help them start to engage in the skills needed to be good with money.
As Pokémon held his kids’ attention, he could seek different learning lessons over time and gradually teach them about money. This is important as there are many different aspects to money so it would be overwhelming to teach them all in one go. Also, as I explain later, money is about habits which require lessons to be repeated over time.
Whilst this father used his kids’ interest in Pokémon, you don’t need to use Pokémon cards with your kids. It should be whatever your kids are interested in. This could include collecting and selling Barbies, Hot Wheels, Teddy Bears, books or sports cards. Also, it doesn’t just have to be buying and selling toys. It can be creating and selling. If your kids have an interest in art, baking or writing, they could look for ways to create and sell their work to friends and family.
TWO: Habit forming
The father encouraged Elvis to save at least 10% of the money they received from selling their Pokemon cards. This shows a clear focus on forming positive money habits with money.
Many people think teaching kids is about lecturing them on different money topics, e.g. what is debt, how to budget etc. In fact, it’s not just our money knowledge that determines financial success. It’s the money habits we form which is the most important. There are many people who work in Finance who still struggle financially as they have formed poor money habits.
Research from the University of Cambridge shows that many of our adult money behaviours are formed by the age of 7.
So, what habits should your kids be forming? The main habit is to simply start saving a little bit of money each time they receive some. In a world where there is so much pressure to spend (due to great marketing tactics and social pressure), those that say they’ll save what they don’t spend end up saving nothing in most cases This is why we all need to help our kids form the habit of ‘saving a little bit of money before they spend’. Even if they save 10% of what they receive it will make a big difference over time and it still leaves them plenty of money to spend. After all, spending is fun!
If you have read any of my other blogs, you’ll know that I encourage all parents to help their start forming habits so they follow the Three Rules of Wealth.
THREE: Let them answer their own questions
This father wasn't a money expert and in some cases didn't know all the answers to Elvis' questions. He didn't let this faze him or put him off trying to teach his kids about money. He simply said “Let’s find out the answer together”.
As parents, our kids look up to us and see us as heroes. We all love that feeling of being put up on a pedestal.
When it comes to money, a lot of parents have never been taught about money themselves so worry they might get knocked off this pedestal if their kids ask a money related question they can’t answer.
Whilst it might feel uncomfortable, letting your kids see that you don't know all the answers 'yet' can have a profound and positive impact on your kids. Let me explain why.
There are thousands of stories of kids who are told they are ‘smart’ when they are young but never achieve their full potential when they become adults. One reason for this is due to comments about being ’smart’ putting them on a pedestal which they don’t ever want to come off. This means they stop taking risks as there is a chance it could impact their perceived ‘smart’ status. This means they no longer seek out new learning opportunities to grow.
The best thing we can do with our kids is to show them that it’s OK not to know all the answers ‘yet’. The key is that they see this doesn’t mean everything stops. Show them that together you can use the resources available to find answers. It’s those that are able to ask the right questions and use the right resources that will continue to grow. In this case, the father encouraged Elvis to 'Ask Alexa', even if he did have an answer to their questions.
There are plenty of resources available, including my ‘How to teach your kids about …’ series of blogs which you can read together to help them answer their money related questions.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about money. The more they can learn when they are young, the better. Keep it simple and find some teachable moments over time.
As this story shows, even when they are playing with their favourite game or toy, there are plenty of opportunities to help them learn.
Here is a quick recap of why I thought this father’s approach was so interesting:
Make learning about money engaging: Don’t lecture your kids about money. Seek opportunities to talk about money using the things that already have their attention.
Habit forming: Regardless of how good or bad you are with money, you have the ability to help your kids form great money habits by getting them to save just a little of all the money they receive. If they form this savings habit as a child, they are likely to retain it when they become adults which will give them a massive advantage in life.
Let them answer their own questions: If you don’t know the answers to all your kids' money questions, don’t fear or ignore them. Spend time with your kids researching the answers. There are plenty of resources available on the internet. By doing so, you are helping your kids learn about using the resources available to answer their own questions which is going to be an increasingly useful life skill as they grow up.
If you are teaching your kids about money in an interesting way (or know of other families that are), I would love to hear. Please email me at email@example.com.
Thanks for reading!
p.s. Don't forget to subscribe below to get updates on my upcoming book, Grandpa's Fortune Fables.
Recap of links mentioned in the blog: