I was raised on a farm in southern Idaho. We grew those famous Idaho spuds, hay, and grain.
We grew a large garden and also had fruit trees.
And the cows. We milked those awful cows (twice a day) for our daily milk.
We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination. But, (from my point of view as a kid) we had enough for our needs.
I was a good money manager. I managed to spend my money on MAD magazines (staring Alfred E. Newman) licorice Nibs, and an occasional popsicle.
Fast forward quite a few years. There was a time when my husband and I were desperately poor. As much as I despised that, it was a great time to teach our children such things like the difference between needs and wants and how to make their clothing budget go farther by not buying name brands.
But, I always had this niggling feeling that somehow I missed the boat on teaching our kids about handling money.
So, when I saw the book Make Your Kid a Money Genius (even if you’re not) by Beth Kobliner I was especially eager to read the book.
And that book certainly did not let me down!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the book, lemme tell you that this book is not boring. No siree, Bob!
Kobliner writes with a sense of humor. I loved it where she said she’s not a financial drill sergeant. She won’t demand that we “drop and give me twenty compound calculations!” Isn’t that a hoot? She sprinkles other humorous gems throughout the book that make for an enjoyable read. Her book is definitely NOT dry and boring. (Nor is it difficult to understand!)
She starts out by giving some rules about talking to kids about. They are all really good but I especially like the one about minding the ‘money gap.’ She says that parents generally talk more to their sons about investing money than they do their daughters. It’s critical that daughters receive that information, too! That’s a great rule to follow.
She divides her advice into different age groups: pre-school kids (yes, teach your three-year-old toddler about money!), elementary aged kids, junior high, high school, and college-aged kids. This is wonderful! Parents can get a firm grip on what is realistic to do with their children at each stage of their life.
There are two chapters that I really liked. One is about giving back. Children need to learn to be aware of the needs of others, that there are people around them that are less fortunate. This teaches them to be less self-centered.
If you look around, there are lots of ways that kids can reach out to others. They can help out (with their families) at a local soup kitchen (especially on non-holidays), volunteer to help at a senior citizen center, or participate in a recycling effort.
Kobliner mentions the organization Birthday Buds (BirthdayBud.org). This organization connects a child with another one from a low income family. The child gives the less fortunate one a birthday present or two (and possibly some essentials) that he wouldn’t get because of his family’s financial situation.
I think that sounds like a great way to start kids thinking about others. All children understand how important birthday presents are and this organization makes it possible for those children who are able to give to a needy child.
The other chapter that I liked focuses on financial advice for parents. Oh goody, goody, I thought. This will show how to set — and stick to — a budget. Sadly, she didn’t even say the B word.
Instead, she advised parents about getting health insurance, life insurance, and a will or trust. She talks about 401(k)s, IRAs, paying off credit card debt, ad saving for your kid’s college.
Now, you might be saying, That’s all good and well, Nina. This book is for parents. I happen to be a grandparent!
To that, I say this. This is a good book for grandparents to read, too. Then, you can find small teaching moments when your grandkids are with you to encourage them to save their money and to spend it wisely. You could possibly help them find ways to give to others or to serve in their community. If you have older grandkids, you could put part of their birthday or Christmas money into their college savings account.
I highly recommend this book! It will help parents navigate the shoals of teaching their kids about money management. It’s straight-forward and easy to understand. And, it should be required reading for every family!
It will make your grandchild a money genius. And, isn’t that something that every grandparent would like?