Ever since I can remember, my daughter has wanted to be rich. My son rarely brings up the topic, but his twelve year old sister is always dreaming about her future penthouse, luxury cars, flying First Class, having closets dedicated solely to shoes, etc. When Pascaline says she wants to be rich, she can paint the picture for you with detail.
I have to confess that her enthusiasm has made me a little uncomfortable at times. Our family doesn't live in a penthouse or fly First Class. But we still have a great time with life. So why is there this drive in her to want more, MORE, M-O-R-E? I've gone all across the board from it being the influence of media to her passion for fashion to dealing with greed to her just being a kid.
But at the end of the day, she wants to be rich. Her desire for it seems to only grow. Maybe the desire is there for a reason. Maybe it's not something to discourage but encourage. Don't we need people with great wealth to fund great causes or help others with great need? And yet, I have to admit that it's so easy for me to judge her desire for wealth at first glance. The best job I can do is not judge her desire but empower her.
How do we empower her? Brian and I started by brainstorming together. What are all the things we wish we would have known about money before we were forty years old? We didn't know much about managing your finances when we got married sixteen years ago, and we've learned a lot of lessons the hard way. How could we help things be different for her?
We made a list of everything we could think of that has helped us; how to create budgets, get out and stay out of debt, the truth about interest on credit cards, saving, reward of giving, how millionaires live, biblical financial principles, Jewish financial principles, historical figures, wisdom we've learned from successful business owners, podcasts and books we've loved. As we brainstormed all these things, I started coming up with a curriculum for Pascaline called Wealth. (I knew that if I called it Finances, she wouldn't be as interested. But when I told her we were going to start learning about wealth, her eyes got big and her smile wide!)
The following are our 7 Ways to Empower Kids with Money that we scrambled to find as the need arose.
1. Envelope System. We love the book Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. And we found that he has a kids version too. The kids both have three envelopes; Saving, Giving and Spending. Every time they get their weekly allowance, they figure out what percentage of money goes into each envelope. This set a great foundation, but Pascaline wanted more. (Mom and dad also use the envelope system for different things so the kids get to see that it's a model that helps both kids and adults.)
2. Option for Extra Chores. On the weekends, the kids have the option of doing extra chores for a little more allowance, like cleaning the toilets or bathroom sinks. If they are saving up for something special, they have an opportunity to earn a little more each week that is outside of their daily chores.
3. Spending Guideline. If the kids want to use their Spending envelope to buy something, they have to save up double the amount. This way they wouldn't be left with zero dollars after spending all their money on something. This did two things; it gives them time to consider whether or not they really want that thing they have their eye on, and two, they felt like they could enjoy the thing more because they weren't back to zero with the Spending budget.
But with Pascaline being in middle school, she is hungry to learn even more about wealth. Enter the Wealth curriculum.
4. Money Podcasts. We told her that if she wants to be great at something, she has to learn from the greats. Together we found several money podcasts by Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Zig Ziglar and other down-to-earth financial gurus and inspirational teachers. Her assignment is to listen to a podcast, three times a week. After each podcast, she does a one-page write up. She writes the title of the podcast at the top, three to five things she learned, and one action she can take after hearing it. Last week, I heard her giggling like crazy. I came around the corner, and she was sitting at the top of the stairs listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast. She removed her earphones and with excitement told me all the funny stories he was sharing and the five money tips he was teaching too! (Wow. How different my financial beginnings would have been if I knew the principles Dave Ramsey teaches!)
5. Exposure to Need. Whenever we travel abroad, we set time aside to help those in need. Whether our kids help us teach a photography workshop to orphaned teenagers in Cambodia or do a home-stay in a Thai village that survived the Tsunami or help package food twenty minutes away for the hungry kids in America … exposure to need is important to Brian and I as parents.
6. Read. I'm pulling out some of my favorite books for her on money. Millionaire Women Next Door is at the top. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not will be in line too. And we can't leave out the classic Zig Ziglar book, See You at the Top.
7. Define Foolish. The Bible is packed with powerful financial principles, but for starters you can't go wrong with the book of Proverbs. We are doing a study on what it looks like to be foolish with money. I love how The Message paints a clear picture of a foolish person with it's contemporary language. It's inspiring not just Pascaline, but all of us.
When I was growing up, we didn't talk much about money. My dad grew up during the Korean War and lived through horrific poverty. When we needed or wanted something, he wanted us to just ask versus giving us an allowance. His heart was in the right place, but it wasn't until I was in college that I even thought about the word budget or financial principles or balanced a checkbook. And honestly, talk of money scared me for years. I thought it would kill the artist in me which is a WHOLE DIFFERENT blog post for the future. But to empower my daughter with money principles… that makes all the difference regardless of whether she someday gets her penthouse or not.
-By Me Ra Koh