Are You ‘Broker’ than a Fifth Grader?

By Damon Carr Special To The Atlanta Voice | 6/21/2013, 12:01 p.m.
Have you ever seen the game show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?"
As parents it’s important that we teach our children “age appropriate” sound financial principles.

Purpose of Money: There are five things that you can do with money—spend, save, invest, give, and waste. It’s important that our children understand all five of these concepts and be an active participant in four of them while avoiding one.

Money is finite: It’s important that we explain to our children that money is finite and we’re restricted by the amount of money that we have at our disposal. Therefore, when you have competing needs, wants, and desires that cost money you have to prioritize what is most important. Save up and purchase based on their order of importance.

Debt is adult’s Mr. Yuck Mouth: Just like certain poisonous substances are hazardous to your health, debt or money you owe to companies or people is hazardous to your wealth. It’s hard to spend, save, give and invest money when you owe money to others.

Saving is the key to financial independence: If you lack the ability to save, you’ll never be financially independent. It’s consistent, diligent saving over an extended period of time that assures financial stability. Saving money is how average earners become wealthy and how above average earners stay wealthy.

As I was reflecting on this article, I asked my 5th grade son a couple of questions:

Why do you always say we’re wasting electricity? Because if you spend less money on electricity, you will have more money to go out to eat and spend on me.

What are you saving your money for? I want to buy a car and a house when I become an adult.

Clearly, this 5th grader gets it!!

I have four kids. My 3rd grade son told me, “Dad, I understand the importance of saving. When I see good stuff, I have to have it, I can’t help myself.” When he learns that his brother was the feature of my article, he’ll start to better manage his money. He thinks all the attention should be on him. My 21-year-old son has diligently saved for and purchased two cars in the past six months. Good to see he has a good work ethic and an ability to save.

Problem is his confidence encourages him to do things out of order. Long story short—he’s in need of another car. I told him about Daddy’s matching contribution plan. If he does things in the right order and saves X amount over a 4 month period of time, I’ll match his savings with X amount. The jury’s still out on that. Let’s see if he has the patience. My 20-year-old daughter is a college student. Very smart, but thinking she’s grown, she made a decision without informing anyone that resulted in a bill. Good thing is she recently landed a part-time job and is working decent hours during the summer. I told her about Daddy’s matching contribution plan. I think that it’s important that young adults personally contribute financially when they’ve made a decision that resulted in a bill. I told her since she has a job, instead of sending her money here’s the plan: You have this bill out there, if you save X amount, I’ll match it with X amount. She agreed to the terms. We’ll see if she’ll hold up to her end of the deal.

(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon Carr is the owner of ACE Financial. He can be reached at 412-216-1013.)