“Mommy, what do you want for your birthday? I saved enough money to buy you a nice gift, so let me know when you are ready. Okay?”
How many moms in this world hear something like this from an elementary-school-age son? I did! Matthew, one of my twin sons, asked me what I wanted for my birthdays, Mother’s Days and Christmases ever since he was in kindergarten, and my other son, Jason, did the same thing for his dad.
My sons are now 12 years old, and they have grown a lot over the years in the area of basic finance and money management. They understand how to earn money, save for college, invest for their future and share with their loved ones. Most importantly, they don’t ask their dad or me to give them money or buy them things because they have their own!
Does this sound too good to be true? Believe it or not, it is true, but it is not the result of good luck or a random event; it is the result of the power of an early education combined with clear intention and persistent parental guidance.
Everything we do with our children, especially in the area of money management and basic finance, makes an everlasting impact on their lives. The impact can be either good or bad. The negative impact can totally devastate or completely destroy our children’s future. But the good news is that we can do something about it now to avoid it and to help our children set good sails toward an abundantly blessed life by using successful money principles.
Because possession of anything first begins in our minds and thoughts, we need to plant the right kinds of seeds in our children’s minds if we want them to achieve great financial success and to master wise money management skills. Our thoughts become our realities.
Healthy money principles such as “The soul of the diligent is richly supplied” or “Money is not given but it’s earned through work” are very important to plant in their young minds. I have talked about these five simple money principles with my own children ever since they were two and it has been very effective:
1. Money is a vehicle to make our lives comfortable and enjoyable.
Money is an instrument, not the purpose or the ultimate goal of our life. Just like a car takes us from one place to another, money can take us from where we are to where we want to be to have a great life. It is crucial for our kids to understand that money is earned, not given. In order for them to earn money, they first need to work! Young children can do many different age-appropriate chores, and they can start saving and investing what they earn to prepare for their future.
2. Money is everywhere, and there is enough for everyone.
Money is abundant! Some people may say, “There is too much money in too few hands,” but that money mentality comes from a perception of scarcity, not abundance, and our kids can copy and imitate our thinking. It is important to teach our children that there’s plenty for everyone who works hard and works smart, and manages money wisely. And we should always speak positively about money!
3. Money is good and useful.
I really wanted to drill into my son’s minds that it is GOOD to have money-lots of money. Money is not evil, but the love of money is. Money can help our family, friends, community and our world at large if we use it for the highest good of all concerned. It isn’t the money itself that determines whether it is good or bad, but the person who decides how to get the money and what to do with it.
4. You become rich by adding value to others.
I taught my boys that if our work adds more value to more people, we make more money. Less value equals less money. It is important to teach our children that they don’t get rich by stepping on other people’s toes but by helping others to get what they want in life. We get paid for the value, not the time.
5. Share money with others.
In order for us to help our children grasp this concept, we should first become their role models to follow. We need to walk our talk. In my profession, I’ve met many generous multi-millionaires who just love giving and sharing, and they make a huge difference in this world. As of 2015, there are about 7 billion people in this world, and the world’s wealth totals more than $60 trillion! We have more than enough to share with others, and when we become generous givers, our children will follow our examples. Cultivating these kinds of healthy money principles in our children’s minds and thoughts won’t happen overnight. It will take time, just like seeds, to germinate, sprout and grow to bear fruit. It will take time for these money principle seeds to grow, spread their roots as deep as they can, stretch their branches as wide as they can and produce fruit as much as they can in their lives.
The key to success in this process is that we parents must keep our promises with our children no matter what. I know it’s not easy but remember our words are the world to them. Don’t feel inadequate to teach these important life skills to your children. If you love your children, you are more than adequate and qualified. Never give up. If you quit, you break the chain of momentum, and you go back to zero and must start all over again, and if you don’t teach your children about money, success and how to live a great life, someone else will, and you may not like their messages and the outcomes.
You are in the perfect place at the perfect time to teach your children the tools that will make them masters, not only of their own money but also of their own lives. Begin this wonderful money principle journey with your children now!
SUNNY LEE is the author of “Is Your Child a Money Master or a Money Monster?” She is a respected and trusted financial advisor serving clients from all walks of life. She is the founder and CEO of Good Life Advisors, a full-service insurance company and is an Investment Advisor Representative in Torrance, California. She is also a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, a financial literacy instructor for Operation Hope and authored the Korean personal finance books “Mr. & Mrs. Millionaire.” She currently resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, with her husband and twin boys. Find more at www.nomoneymonster.com.