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What kids should know about money: What 'Wealthy' REALLY means

Many people believe that the more money you have, the happier you will feel, however, that is not always the case. A lot of people can ‘be wealthy’ but not ‘feel wealthy’ and this stops them from feeling happy.


For your kids to ‘be wealthy’, help them follow the 3 Rules of Wealth. For your kids to ‘feel wealthy’, you need to help them be grateful for what they have.


To help my kids appreciate that happiness is based on being grateful, I told them the story below.


The Paradise and a Prison Story

It was the start of the summer holidays and Tony was packing his bag as he was going to Summer Camp for the first time. Tony was so excited. His mother had recently found a new job which meant his parents could finally afford for Tony to go to Summer Camp with his friends.


When Tony got to the Summer Camp he couldn't believe it. It was like Disneyland to him. The room he was staying in had bunk beds with bright white sheets. There were even three shelves full of board games.

This was nothing like what he had ever experienced before. At home, he had to share a bed with his little brother. The sheets were old and had holes in them. He only ever got to ride his Dad’s bicycle which was too big for him.

As he was unpacking his bag, he saw a boy sitting on one of the beds staring at his mobile phone. His name was Chris.

“Why are you so excited? This place is like a prison cell” said Chris as he took a second to look up from his phone and speak to Tony.

Tony couldn’t understand what the boy meant. “This place is amazing. How is it like a prison?” asked Tony.

“Haven’t you seen the movies? In prison, the cells have small beds like this, they don’t have a TV, they have to share a bathroom and the food at the canteen is awful. Just like this place” replied the boy.

Tony didn’t let Chris’ views change his mind. He was still in paradise compared to what he had at home.

As they started the different camp activities, Tony’s excitement continued to grow due to all the new and exciting experiences. He loved canoeing, bike rides (on bikes the right size) and swimming in the lake. Even the variety of food at the canteen made his smile grow more.

Chris was still looking gloomy. He preferred to swim in a swimming pool rather than the lake. He preferred to go on his electric scooter rather than ride a bike and he hated getting his nice clothes dirty in the canoe. He just wanted to get home but knew he would be stuck at the camp for 4 more weeks!


Despite Chris having so much more than most, Tony felt sorry for him. He decided to go and speak with one of the camp councillors. Tony told him that his new friend would never be happy in the camp as it’s not as good as what he had at home.


From bad to worse …

The councillor decided to take action. The next day he entered the room where Tony, Chris and 4 other boys were sleeping and told them they would go camping in tents in the woods for 3 nights.


They gathered up some clothes and snacks and headed to the forest.

They set up their tents. Tony and many of the other boys loved it. It was another new experience. Needless to say, Chris wasn’t happy. He complained more than ever.


“It’s too cold!” “There are too many insects!” “I need a shower” “I hate sleeping this close to other people!” “I can’t believe we have to eat that!” He would go on and on.

The next day, the councillor decided that as it was a clear night, they’d sleep under the stars so he packed up all the tents and laid out the sleeping bags around the campfire.

Again, all the boys loved the idea. Apart from Chris. He hated it. Things were just getting worse and worse for him. As he was too busy complaining about sleeping on the ground to appreciate the clear night sky with all the stars shining so brightly.


This was only the second night and Chris was dreading that they were going to have to spend another night out in the woods.


After the second night in the woods, the counsellor said, “We’re all heading back to camp. We’re not staying the third night.” Whilst most of the boys were disappointed as they loved it, they were also looking forward to being back in the camp.

Chris on the other hand was over the moon. Not only did he not have to stay out in the woods for one more night, but he also got to go back to his comfy bed. He didn’t have to eat the same food and got to take a shower.

As they went to bed that night in their bunk beds, Chris said “This room feels like paradise now rather than a prison!”

The next day, Tony went to see the counsellor. “You never intended for us to stay in the woods for 3 nights, did you? You just wanted Chris to believe that as you knew he’d be so happy if we came back before he expected us to.”

The councillor replied “To be truly happy, we need to be grateful for what we have. When some people have so much, it’s hard for them to appreciate what they have. Sometimes we need to give them experiences to help them truly appreciate how lucky they are to have what they have”.

Tony smiled and said he’d always be grateful for this experience and what he has.


The End!


The key message from this story:


A lot of people believe that the more money you have, the happier you will be. That is not always the case. The happiest people are the ones who are grateful for what they have. As shown in this story, Tony has a lot less than Chris but yet was much happier.

I don’t believe that wealth is an amount of money but wealth is a feeling of financial contentment. The very short story below perfectly sums up this belief:

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.
Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have — ENOUGH.”

The stories in this blog are especially important for families who do have money. If kids grow up and are given everything, it can be hard for them to have new experiences and be grateful for what they have. We have to find ways to help kids appreciate what they have - this can sometimes mean going without and other times reminding them of how fortunate they are.

As Warren Buffett once commented, we live in a world where most of us live more comfortable lives than the richest people (including kings and queens) from 100 years ago. They didn’t have working toilets, central heating, or fridges. The media makes us believe we are getting worse off, but it’s never been a better time to be alive. I always want my kids to appreciate that and be grateful for what they have.


Summary

For your kids to ‘be wealthy’, help them follow the 3 Rules of Wealth. For your kids to ‘feel wealthy’, you need to help them be grateful for what they have.

There are many people with lots of money but who never feel they have ENOUGH, i.e. they will never feel wealthy.

Take the time to read the camping story and help your kids appreciate that happiness comes from appreciating what they have both now and in the future. Maybe ask them what they are grateful for and tell them what you are grateful for.



This topic is very linked to expectations vs reality which I will write about in a forthcoming blog. This will include “The World’s Greatest Cheese And Ham Toastie” and “Impressing Your Friends With Cheap Wine”. Make sure you subscribe in the footer below so you don’t miss it.


Thanks for reading!

Will

P.S. I’m sure your kids would be GRATEFUL if you bought them a copy of Grandpa’s Fortune Fables so they grow up financially healthy and wealthy. I’d also be very grateful :-)


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