Teaching Our Kids the Financial Facts of Life

The third lesson is one that has been lost on many professionals of our generation: Do not let your success be measured by material possessions. Unlike our parents—a number of whom grew up during the Great Depression—some of our peers used access to easy credit to borrow a lifestyle. In some cases, they tapped home equity lines of credit to finance lavish vacations, expensive cars, and posh Sweet 16 parties—anything to outshine the Joneses. So our children will not follow this same disastrous path, be candid about the dangers of poor credit management. Tell them such mistakes come with severe consequences. Instead of finding joy in conspicuous consumption and frivolous behavior, our children must learn that lasting value is a byproduct of education, character, reputation, and achievement.

The last lesson is critical. Teach your kids that dirty four-letter word: save. Push them to squirrel away every available dollar for, among other events, rainy days and that down payment on their first home. Find creative ways to help them develop financial discipline. I was extremely fortunate that my father set me on this course when I turned 13. He set up a small investment account for me at a local brokerage and told me by year’s end he would match any sum I amassed through my savings, earnings, or investments. In my attempt to meet this challenge, I gained an appreciation for the value

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