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March 26, 2011


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I have three children that are each financially successful.
They never received one penny of allowance the whole time they lived under our roof.
Each of them had jobs, starting at junior high school and throughout their childhood - many jobs. They also participated in High School athletics and in the case of my son I had roles in his Baseball and Football activities. In the case of the daughters we attended their activities as Mat maids in wrestling, and Cheerleading in Football.

Their jobs included Car Washes, Fast Food outlets, Pizza parlors, Delicatessens, Stacking shelves at drug stores, Delivering newspapers and flyers, Pumping gas, Installing Car Radios, Cutting grass, Baby sitting, and doing Housework for elderly people.

This was before the age of mobile phones and computers so they used our home phone. Every month I gave each child an itemized list of any of their calls that were long distance or involved message units, which they dutifully paid.

When they were old enough to drive I offered them interest free loans and a payment book, they never missed a payment.

I think these days it is very difficult for teenagers to obtain this type of work but in our days it was easy for them. Each of our children is frugal, knows the value of money, is a saver, pays off their credit cards in full every month, has brokerage accounts at Fidelity Investments that I still manage for them, lives well within their means. At ages 52, 50, and 47, the two eldest are multi-millionaires and the youngest is very close to having a net worth of $1M. Now, after 55 years of marriage, we still have great relationships with all three of them and are very proud of their accomplishments. Yesterday, in fact, I went on a 9.5 mile hike with the middle child in the Santa Cruz mountains of the SF Bay Area.

Raising Money-Savvy Kids can be done but it was much easier for us because of our own background growing up in working class families in England during WWII.

Very good article – I really enjoyed it. It appears that economic outpatient care (just giving kids money) is more harmful than helpful… That will be difficult for me considering I grew up very poor and have looked forward to giving things to my children… I will have to find the proper balance. Also I can’t get enough of your experiences Old Limey – I soak in the wisdom every chance I get!!!

I don't know what is more impressive ... how Old Limey's kids turned out, or the fact that Old Limey can still hike 9.5 miles through mountains at his age!

I'm intrigued. Did the author share his/her salary and mortgage details with his/her kids when they were 10 years old? I definitely want to share information with our boys (9 and 6) in a way that's appropriate for their age but am leery about being so upfront with the eldest one as he's likely to share it on the playground. (Knowing him, he'd start a survey of his friends.)

Great to be reminded though that it takes a variety of techniques to truly teach kids about money. Giving them the opportunity to experience mistakes and successes is key.

And for Old Limey, my question would be: how are your own children teaching your grandchildren about money? The same way you did?

My son and his wife are doing a great job raising their wonderful, healthy, personable, and beautiful, 10 year old daughter. He was my biggest problem when he was growing up and there was a period in his youth where I was ready to disown him. However in his twenties he underwent a total change that took my wife and I completely by surprise. While imobilized in hospital recovering from a back surgery he had an opportunity to think about the direction his life was taking. He came out, made a 180 degree change in his lifestyle, his occupation, and the people he was associating with, and settled down. Today I am very proud of him and realize that everything we had attemped to teach him hadn't been forgotten - he was just late getting started after a period, that I never experienced. It's called "Sowing your wild oats". Sometimes these days when I read an e-mail from him it's like an echo of something that I implanted in him when he was a teenager or even earlier.

The two daughters, even though they have done well financially haven't fulfilled my expectations in raising their children. One major difference is that in most marriages the husband plays the major role in setting the rules, and America being a melting pot, unlike the Britain that my wife and I grew up in, brings couples together from a variety of ethnic, religious, and class backgrounds and the rules and standards under which my daughters were raised hasn't been followed in the raising of their children. Another factor that I have come to realize is that Genetics can play a huge role in how offspring turn out. One daughter unfortunately married into a family that we came to realize years later has serious genetic problems that go back many generations on the mother-in-law's side of the family. At this time, one grandson is totally normal, the other grandson has had behavioral and addiction problems, diagnosed as a very small child that now make him unemployable, unable to make friends, and getting worse. The third child, died of a birth defect, an inoperable tumor that started growing when her growth spurt kicked in at age 7. Prior to that she was so unusually intelligent that I started tutoring her in Math & Science and was amazed and overjoyed at her capabilities. The father is highly intelligent but has obvious genetic deficiencies that he has been able to work around and become a very successful attorney in spite of his weirdness. Another problem I have noticed is that wealthy, busy, workaholic fathers that live in wealthy neighborhoods are often guilty of throwing money at every problem that surfaces rather than being disciplinarians and taking the time to bond with their children, engage in family activities, and teach them good values.

In future years DNA testing is likely to be widely used by couples before deciding to have children. The technology is coming along well but hasn't yet progressed to the point where it is affordable and popular.

Call your dad and today and thank him for his forward thinking. Money is the last great secret in our society. By far, the majority parents never discuss financial specifics with their children.

Because parents are rarely transparent about money, children learn to measure success by the height of the pile of stuff a family owns. They miss out on a great opportunity to learn from the families success and failures.

This secrecy often carries long into adulthood making it difficult for adult children to make smart choices when their elderly parents need assistance.

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