Talk With Your Kids About Money, with Bruce Feiler
Money is one of the hardest things to talk about in a family. Bruce Feiler offers tips for how to facilitate financial conversation with your children.
Bruce Feiler is one of America’s most popular voices on family, faith, and survival. He writes the “This Life” column about contemporary families for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers. For his new book The Secrets of Happy Families, he sought out the most creative minds from Silicon Valley to the country’s top negotiators, from the set of Modern Family to the Green Berets and asked what team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques they use with their families. Feiler then tested these ideas with his own wife and kids.
Bruce Feiler: Money, one of the hardest things to talk about in families. Eighty percent of children, eight zero, get to college having never had a conversation with their parents about money. Where it comes from. How it’s earned. How it’s spent. What debt is. You can’t just give your kids – launch them into their lives without giving them the tools. So I went to what I thought would be the smartest people to talk to about this. Warren Buffett’s bankers. They advise the wealthiest families in the country and I thought they must know more, they can help my family.
Turns out that these wealthy families are making even more mistakes. And I walked away from this conversation with a number of takeaways. Takeaway number one, show them the money.
It’s incredibly important to talk to children about money at an age appropriate level but you need to talk. As Buffett’s bankers said to me, “I spoke to the richest woman in America and she said it’s a burden if I tell my children how much money they have.” And he said, “It’s much more of a burden to burden them with ignorance than to burden them with the truth.”
Number two, actually try to limit the influence of money. After doing all this research – in our home we have chores, we have allowance. We do not overlap the two.
Because if you do it turns out the kids will do the chores just for the money. You get an allowance as part of being a member of our family. But, sorry, someone’s gotta put the dishes in the dishwasher. Someone’s gotta make their bed. You’re part of the team, you have to take care of yourself. And the last thing is let them make mistakes.
Buffett’s banker chided me when I told him we were kind of forcing our kids to put their money into different pots – spend, save, give away, et cetera. He said, “Let them decide for themselves.” And I said, “But what if they make a mistake? What if they wanted to buy something and they’ve spent all their money on candy? What if they drive into a ditch?” And his answer was one of my favorite quotes in The Secrets of Happy Families. He said, “It’s much better to make a mistake with a six dollar allowance than a 60,000 dollar a year salary or a six million dollar inheritance.
The point is when the kids are young, when the stakes are lower, let them make their own mistakes. Then you’re there to pick them up. You don’t want to get that call when they’re 24 and suddenly they’re in debt and they’ve made bad decisions and they’re really in a hole. Let your kids take more responsibility from a younger age.
The most common pitfalls, I think, that parents make on the topic of money is thinking that they’re afraid to talk about it. That they don’t want to be honest. And they also think that they’re not passing along their values. Guess what? You are. If you’re worried and you have anxiety about money, you’re gonna pass that anxiety on to your children. If you show them, by contrast, that you do have worries but this is how you’re working it out. That you’re sitting down with your spouse, maybe with other family members, on a regular basis to talk about money. That’s the lesson you want to convey.
Because if you’re showing those values then your kids will pick up those values also. Because if you’re showing those values the kids will pick them up also. To me it’s part of the larger takeaway I emerged from with this project. I occasionally lose my temper. I occasionally yell at my children. And I always thought I’m just a bad dad when that happens. I’m just an awful parent because I’m showing them that I’m not always in control. What I’ve learned is losing control is actually natural and something kids need to see. But show them that when you do lose control that you also regain it and solve the problem in real time. Solve the problem in front of them – that’s the message you want to give them.
And the same applies to money. If you’re having a hard time, we’re gonna buy a car next year. And so already we’re not gonna buy this thing this year or we’re gonna go on a less expensive vacation so we can save money for a car. Be open with your kids about it. The actual reason? You’ll pass on good money values.
Money is one of the hardest things to talk about in a family. Bruce Feiler offers tips for how to facilitate financial conversation with your children. The key takeaway is that you want to enable your children to make their money mistakes while they're young. "It’s much better to make a mistake with a six dollar allowance than a 60,000 dollar a year salary or a six million dollar inheritance."
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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