Eat your veggies, brush your teeth, share your toys - every day we're teaching our kids. We're tackling uncomfortable subjects and answering (or avoiding) difficult questions like the classic, "Mommy, where do babies come from?" Of all the lessons we teach, we sometimes forget about the big one: MONEY.
Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even if You're Not) will help you talk to your kids about money management using proven age-appropriate methods. New York Times bestselling author, Beth Kobliner, shows readers why money is such an important subject to discuss with children as young as three-years-old, and gives parents tips on how to instil healthy money values in every stage of their child's life. I read the book front to back in one weekend, and I will definitely be buying a copy for every new parent in my life.
Kobliner has spent the last three decades talking to kids about money - you know you've made it when you've given Elmo financial advice on Sesame Street. She was also on Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and headed the initiative, Money As You Grow, aimed at teaching parents how to teach their kids about money.
I had a chance to catch up with Kobliner, and ask her some questions about her book (it comes out tomorrow). Here's what she had to say:
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: Two things.
First, my mom and dad! I grew up in Queens - totally middle class family - and both of my parents were raised during the Great Depression. Now, I've been writing and thinking about personal finance for about 25 years, but all the really important things about money I learned from my mom and dad. Like how to make sacrifices for the future and how to save up and wait for things you really want.
The second thing is when I served on President Obama's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. While I was there I came up with this program called Money as You Grow, an online resource to teach parents ways they can give kids good money skills at different ages. I didn't expect it to take off like it did! Something like 1.4 million people went online to use it-and that's when I realized just how many parents are out there who didn't know how to teach their kids money basics. That's when I got to work researching and writing Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You're Not).
Q:Why should parents talk about money with their kids?
A: Well, for one thing, these are uncertain times. Americans used to be pretty sure their kids would be better off than they were - not anymore. And there's so much worry out there - I've felt it when I've spoken at schools, in front of parent groups, in front of the Girl Scouts. "How are we going to pay for college? "What's going to happen to our health insurance?" If we can teach our kids solid money habits now, it'll go a long way toward making sure they don't reach adulthood with their own financial anxieties.
Q: When should we start teaching our kids about money (and why should we start them young)?
A: Parents are always surprised when I answer this question. A university study showed that kids are ready to understand really basic money concepts by age 3! That's right: before they can even tie their shoes! Another study found out that many of kids' financial habits are already in place by the time they're seven. So the answer to your question: now. Start now.
Q: How can this book appeal to parents who raise their children as minimalists?
A: Minimalism is, of course, all the rage. But I just call it being a smart consumer. My book is filled with great tips to show kids how to tell wants from needs, how to learn the patience to save their money for things that are really important to them rather than blow on unnecessary stuff, and - minimalists will love this - how not to fall for advertising tricks. Kids love to feel like they're getting the inside scoop, so parents can point out to them all the ways companies try to sell you their products - even if you don't want them! Here's something to show your kid next time you're at a restaurant. A lot of times, the first item on the menu will be crazy expensive. It might be a trick to make you think the next item, which costs less, is a bargain, even if it's not!
Q: What do you want parents to take away from this book?
A: Reassurance that they can do it. They can make a real difference in their children's futures by teaching them to be good with their money. So many parents don't know how to start, what to say, what not to say! Make Your Kid a Money Genius breaks everything down into easily digested, no-jargon ways to talk about saving, getting out of debt, borrowing for a car or home, finding the right insurance, etc. And it shows you how to teach money smarts to kids of any age from 3 to 23.
Q: Have you always been a money genius?
A: Ha! That's a loaded question! I added the part of the title in parentheses-Even If You're Not-because I truly believe you don't have to be a mastermind of finance or PhD economist to set your kids on the right path. I came into this book knowing a ton about personal finance-after all, I've written about it for everyone from Money magazine to the Wall Street Journal-not to mention my first book, Get A Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties! And I scoured all the latest research to learn the most effective ways to get that knowledge and those skills into the heads-and lives-of kids. But as for who's a genius? Any kid out there, if her parents give them the money smarts they need!