I sometimes like to highlight my favorite reader comments. That’s difficult because there are so many great ones to choose from. But in a recent discussion about kids and cash, Mick left this absolute gem. Here’s a slightly edited version:
I wonder what the tweens and teens think of money. How many parents ask their kids what the kids themselves want to know? i.e. Goal-setting with your kids from a kid’s point of view, no matter what age the discussion starts.
We realized my step daughter was way beyond the basics when we found she had been planning, and had saved enough for a junk Karmann Ghia. She intended to ask her stepfather to work on it with her until she was 16, so she would have a car. She figured out early that this would be the only way to get a “cool” car.
We found out when she brought us the cash and paper advertisements at age 11, asking for advice about buying, and for a ride to go see the junkers. Now she’s 16. She sold the car (yes, it was running, but hadn’t made it to pretty yet) because it was more important to use the money for experiential learning: summer-long hiking/camping/rock climbing trip in the Grand Canyon, which the family couldn’t afford.
And yes, we have wondered before whether she was accidently switched at birth!
The mind boggles: An eleven-year-old saving enough to buy a car — even if it is a junker!.
This story reminded me of a short interview I conducted with my friend Ella, who is six. (Her older brother Louis also participated in the interview although, as you will see, he wasn’t very helpful!)
Ella has about $8 saved at home, but she has $127 in the bank. When I asked her what it’s for, she told me, “I’m keeping it until I get a house. It’s for when I grow up.”
In both of these cases, the kids are able to take the long view. They’re thinking about more than just today. While it’s true that Ella might not understand the implications of buying a house, it’s clear to me that she does know what it means to save money for the future. And Mick’s step-daughter, at age 11, certainly understood the power of saving.
When I was a boy, I didn’t grasp this at all. I knew it on some abstract level perhaps, but I could not save money in reality. I remember trying to save, but then breaking into the piggy bank to raid it for cash to buy Star Wars action figures or comic books. My desire for immediate gratification simply outweighed the needs of an abstract future.
As an adult, I was still raiding the metaphorical piggy bank until just a few years ago. I’ve finally learned to save. I just wish I’d been able to do this when I was six.
I love watching kids learn about money. (I’m especially fond of child entrepreneurs.)
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