Are You ‘Broker’ than a Fifth Grader?

By Damon Carr Special To The Atlanta Voice | 6/21/2013, 12:01 p.m.
As parents it’s important that we teach our children “age appropriate” sound financial principles.

Have you ever seen the game show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?"

This is a game show where the contestant is asked questions that appear in a 5th grade textbook. You can win up to $1,000,000.00. Should they answer a question incorrectly or opt to end the game prematurely, the contestant must state that they “are not” smarter than a 5th grader. As you might imagine, very few people have won the grand prize, proving very few people are smarter than a 5th grader.

Since I know that you’re smarter than a 5th grader, I know that you know the word “broker” used in the title of this column isn’t a word in the context that I used it. I also know that you know what I mean (smile).

I have a 5th grade son who inherited my “financial nerd” gene. I recently had a friend of mine babysit my two youngest sons. Upon picking them up, she laughed as she told me, “I know this is Damon’s child.” She explained that my son told her, “You have a nice apartment. How much does it cost?” He goes on to ask her about her utility bills and other things. She says, “What 5th grader asks these types of questions?” We laughed.

What 5th grader asks these types of questions? The same 5th grader who:

• Walks around the house, turning off the lights and televisions in empty rooms saying we’re wasting electricity.

• Asks if he can review various household bills.

• Wants to know how much various entertainment activities cost that we partake in.

• Saves the monetary gifts he receives for his birthday and Christmas

As parents it’s important that we teach our children “age appropriate” sound financial principles. Ironically, in my 5th grade son’s case, I didn’t realize just how much he was paying attention. Up until my friend asked me, “What 5th grader ask these types of question,” I overlooked his tendencies.

My 5th grade son literally grew up while I was growing into a Personal Finance Expert. He attended and listened in on several of my speaking engagements. He read all of the children’s “Personal Finance” books that I purchased for him. While driving in the car, he would tune into the Financial Radio Talk Shows or Financial Seminars that I was listening too.

To date, this young man has a nice chunk of change that he has personally saved up. I often hit him up for $20 or so when I’m low on cash and in between pays. How is it that this young, unemployed boy is in position to lend me—“the so-called money expert” money from time to time? Am I “broker than a 5th grader?” Here are some lessons that have been instilled in my son over the years:

Work creates money: All parents tell their children “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Yet, many of us fail to explain how money is created. It’s important that we as parents connect the dots between a good education, a strong work ethic and the real reason why we as parents go to work every day—to earn money.