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Why Your Kid’s Financial Future is Under Attack

(and What You Can Do about It NOW) 

Here’s a simple question that will help you determine whether your children’s financial future is under attack. Do your children understand how to manage money and how to take financial responsibility for their actions?

The sad truth is that most parents if they are being truthful, will have to say no. And here’s the problem.  If your children do not know how to manage money, they will grow up to be at the mercy of forces beyond their control—forces that demand payment. Your children will have to scrimp to pay bills. And  they might end up living to work instead of working to live and enjoying their lives. Your kid’s financial future is under attack.

Try to imagine what the future will be like for grown-up children who don’t understand the value of money or basic finance. What if they don’t understand basic finance concepts as what it takes to earn money, how to save and invest it, and how to manage and share it with others?

As a financial advisor, it has been my experience that it is common for children to be overindulged, self-indulgent, entitled and spoiled. As a result, our society is turning out what I like to call “Money Monsters.” The drive to acquire money with as little effort as possible can create money monsters who will do anything to get more cash … even extreme, heartless things. They may steal, terrorize, or defraud others instead of legitimately earning money. Many incorrect messages about money and success are negatively influencing children’s minds. Our kids are under attack by these omnipresent money monsters.

Sunny Lee’s Book on CBS News

Who are the Money Monsters?

Money monsters are created by ignorance, inexperience, and lack of skills. They come from families across the financial spectrum. These individuals expect the world to provide them the means they require to survive; parents often create them, however unwittingly. Children who nag their parents to buy them things or take them places without earning these rewards are money monsters. They repeatedly ask for more and are often rewarded by mom and dad, who give in to their demands.

Whether they come from wealth or poverty, these children don’t understand the value of money and the need to earn their own. With this poor foundation, they can easily grow into oblivious adults who spend instead of save and make poor investment and spending choices.

What You Can Do NOW to Protect Them

Please take a moment to think about what it would be like should these money monsters grow up to run the country. Can you imagine what the future will be like if they eventually assume positions of power? For example, if they end up being responsible for choosing how the government spends its money, funds Social Security, pension plans, education, health-care systems and the military.

Your children’s financial future is under attack, and so are ours unless we do something about them now. Here are the three simple things you can do with your children to protect them from a future attack on their finances.

  • Start Teaching Your Kids about Money Today

Don’t automatically disqualify yourself because you didn’t study finance in school or are not confident about your own financial literacy. If you are a parent to your children, that is enough. Parents are the best teachers and the most influential role models in their children’s lives. So teach, train, equip and guide your children with confidence.

Start by teaching your children healthy money principles. For example, explain that “we become rich by working hard and adding value to others.” Or discuss the proverb “the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Couple these principles with basic concepts of earning, saving, budgeting, investing, and sharing money for greater effectiveness.

It is a well-known fact that 70 percent of family wealth is gone by the second generation and 90 percent by the third generation. It’s largely because those children and grandchildren typically squander their family’s riches on lavish lifestyles. However, your story doesn’t have to end that way. Teaching your children to have mastery over their money is critical to their future success. When they know how to control and manage their money, they will treat money with respect and teach their children to do the same.

  • Make Your Children Work to Earn Money

In my opinion, the most common cause of childhood entitlement is lack of education about money. Unfortunately, parents in every income bracket are guilty of this. We give children money without making them work for it. And children spend it almost immediately without any understanding of where the money came from, what it took to earn it, and how to use it properly.

Money should be earned not given. But some parents are afraid of having their children work hard. They treat their children like delicate flowers or even worse, put them on a pedestal and almost worship them. But your children will never learn how to take charge of their financial lives unless they are taught how to do so at a young age. Otherwise, they will become hopelessly dependent babies in adult bodies for the rest of their lives.

Encourage your kids now to do lots of age-appropriate chores at home—emptying the trash, raking leaves, watering plants, folding laundry… you name it. Don’t expect them to do these chores perfectly if they are still young. It’s not about perfection nor performance; it’s about doing work to the best of their ability with a good attitude.

If you need extra help, visit my website, www.moneymasterkids.co, for information. Use the Seven Habit System and Money Master Kids Reward Programs I developed for my own sons. With those systems in place, it will be easy to encourage your child to work and earn more money.

  • Reward Work and Savings

When your kids finish their chores with good attitudes, give them a reward or a commission. Be sure to shower them with applause and compliments too.

Rewards allow your children to feel appreciated. Make rewards small but fun and inspiring. Give them money, buy something they’ve wanted for a long time, go watch a movie together or share some yummy food with them. It is vital that every job has a reward. If you give your children a monetary reward, help them save it first and invest it later. If your kids are very young, give them a small, transparent piggy bank and a paper wallet—which can be powerful tools of money mastery.

Once their piggy banks are full, take your children to the bank or even to your brokerage firm to open an account with them. They can learn to navigate the banking system or different investment options. In the beginning, teach them the simple way to allocate their money. For example, 10 percent for giving or charity, 50 percent of the remainder for saving for future and the rest for spending. When they are ready, teach them about budgeting and diversifying their portfolios.

Final thoughts

The best time to educate your children about money management and financial responsibility is when they are still young and teachable.

Inevitably, your kids will grow up and become adults with adult problems. Eventually they will go to college, get married, have children, prepare for retirement and so forth. And they will need to know how to make money, pay the bills, pay taxes, save for future, invest and spend money properly. Why wait until later when the stakes are high and the rewards are much harder to gain?

Children will one day become the future leaders of our global economy. Therefore, teaching them financial responsibility is not only critical for their future success but for ours. Our future depends on what we do with our children today, so begin now.

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Sunny Istar Lee aka “The Eagle Mom” is a founder and CEO of Good Life Advisors in Los Angeles, California. Lee is a Million Dollar Round Table member, volunteer financial literacy instructor, and international speaker. Over the last few years, she has spoken to over 30,000 people about the importance of teaching kids financial responsibility early. She is also author of six books including Is Your Child a Money Master or A Money Monster? and Dear My Baby. She lives in Rancho Palos Verdes, California with her family. Learn more at www.moneymasterkids.co.

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