Twas the weekend before Christmas and people were racing from store-to-store searching for the perfect present. A new doll? A remote control truck? Perhaps a new gizmo of some sort? May I suggest a less tangible, but more valuable present to give to your kids?
I’ve shared with you many times how my parents helped instill a passion for financial literacy in me. Children remember their presents in the moment, but as adults, they remember (and value) the life lessons we teach them. My daughters will have plenty of gifts tucked into their stockings come Christmas morning, but the gifts I care about the most—won’t be found under the tree.
Give a child money and she has money for a day. Teach a child how to use her money and she makes smart money decisions for a lifetime. This is my goal. I have 18 years, maybe less, to influence how my daughters think and behave. When Lauren and Taylor were toddlers I began teaching them how to save, spend and share. Now I’m introducing more complex financial concepts, such as budgeting and basic investing, to help prepare them to confidently handle their money when they are adults. I want my daughters to live full, happy lives, which is difficult to achieve if they are financially illiterate.
I’ve been a financial advisor for 20 years, and I can tell you that people’s attitude towards money plays a significant role in their overall happiness, regardless of how much money they have. I want my girls to appreciate everything they have and the best way to teach them to do this—is to model the behavior myself. Every day I make sure to acknowledge our good fortune within earshot of the girls. I don’t even expect them to respond, but just want them to witness me valuing our happy life together.
A grateful attitude is important, but it is even more powerful when partnered with sharing. My girls were initially a little resistant to sharing. Once they did share, they found out how good it made them feel and now LOVE to share. We recently delivered presents to the family we “adopted” this Christmas and the girls found extra gifts to share with the children from their own closets and toy chests.
Of course, the best present any parent can give their child is love. I always tell my girls we are “rich” when our home is full of love. On Christmas morning, my girls may care more about what is in their stockings, but my intangible gifts are what they will remember and pass forward to their own children someday.
I wish everyone a very “rich” season.
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