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Ron Lieber, NY Times money columnist and author of The Opposite of Spoiled, discusses how to raise money-savv kids who are generous. 

Talking About Money with Our Kids

Whether we plan to or not our kids will pick up their financial habits based on what we say and do around them.

We can look back at our parents and get an idea of how they shaped us. So how can we make sure we’re giving our kids a good start with money?

In this episode, NY Times columnist and author of the newly released The Opposite of Spoiled, Ron Lieber shares the latest research to help parents raise kids who generous and smart about money.

We get into:

  • whether allowances should be tied to chores
  • how parents can encourage gratitude and generousity
  • how early you can begin with financial foundations

Hope you enjoy!

Helpful Resources on Kids and Money

If you’re trying to figure out a system that can work for your family, here are a few resources to check out:

Whether we plan to or not our kids will pick up their financial habits based on what we say and do around them. Learn strategies to raise money-savvy kids who are generous! #family #money #parenting #debtfree

Too Young for Finance?

Before we began the interview I mentioned to Mr. Lieber I had two kids a very newborn and a toddler and he pointed out that even preschoolers can learn a thing or two about money and values.

A few years ago he had done an interview with Elmo (yes, that Elmo!) talking about needs and wants.

When I read The Opposite of Spoiled it was obvious that Lieber did an incredible amount of research.

I asked him what findings and books which experts surprised him the most.

I think the two books that were themselves based on a lot of academic research and in one case in a these are studies that I found the most compelling was a book by Tim Kasser…The High Price of Materialism.

He's one of the nation's leading experts material. And you know there's just so much evidence that materialistic values and tendencies are damaging for us and all sorts of ways….

He actually gives advice it's clear from his highly readable nonacademic prose that is exactly how we grown-ups and I think for kids to opt to recalibrate our thinking to tack away from kind of more materialistic tendencies…

..The other book I really loved [is by] a sociologist at the University of Virginia named Allison Pugh and her book is called Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture.

…It's about what kids yearn for, why they want the things that they want, and how families know that the upper end of the income spectrum and the lower end of the income spectrum respond to kids' desire.

Ron Lieber [2:12]

Being Honest and Transparent with Our Kids About Money

One thing we've discussed and debated as our girls are growing up is how transparent we should be about money.

Thanks to being more intentional with our spending and working together with our planning, we're in a pretty good spot financially.

However, we don't want to spoil our kids. When they ask to buy stuff (mostly toys), we've had to explain to them that yes we can afford it, but since it's not a need, we have to wait.

That waiting period lets us see if we truly want it or if it's just a passing want. It's not a perfect explanation, but it seems to be working.

We also increased our 7 year old's allowance so sh can buy toys from there if she wants. And guess what? When it's on her, she passes most times. Crazy :P

The Right Way to Give Kids an Allowance

Speaking of allowances, many parents (including us) struggle to find that balance with helping our kids manage money and teaching them the value of earning it and work.

Mr. Lieber feels that not tying your kid's allowance to chores can be helpful because they need the practice

Teaching Kids Gratitude and Generosity

Mr. Lieber was kind enough to share his family's ritual of gratitude.

One change that I've made personally that affects my parenting indirectly is that I've become tuned in to the power of gratitude.

..For me, just understanding all of the social science research in the last decade around what makes people happy and how the expression of gratitude and being grateful and gracious about the things that you have.

Even if you don't have everything that you want can provide all sorts of incredibly positive mental health benefits and just by stopping and thinking about gratitude at least once each day.

I am actually a probably 20 or 30 percent happier person than I was 30 years ago it made at an appreciable difference.

And if you are a happy person you quite often you're a better part or more attentive had or you are easier to approach because the year is different and so you know we've transferred that or attempted to our daughter by trying to establish more regular at least semi-regular grace rituals and our gratitude ritual.

Ron Lieber [5:23]

We also try to incorporate giving and generosity into our routine. We share with the girls our budget including our charitable giving.

I think it's important for kids to see us doing it as well as having those conversations.

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Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime.

This episode was originally released in February 2015. It has been updated January 2019.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..