Raising Financially Savvy Kids

There are truly very few things that I am actually passionate about in life. At the top of the list of the things I am passionate about is my son, who is absolutely my pride and joy. The second thing I am most passionate about is the state of our financial affairs both as individuals and as a country. The great and horrible thing about these two topics is how intertwined they are. Our finances dictate how we live our lives, which translates into the quality of life for my boy. With over 75% of Americans (according to many reputable financial publications and organizations, just Google it!) retiring in poverty, all I can think about is that this is the world my son will have to live in, but my child will not be one of them.

I have dedicated a great amount of time and energy to educate my son on how finances work. I refuse to allow him to be set up for failure, and thus poverty later on, because he doesn’t know what the lifecycle of money is as it relates to his own life, or what it means to make a conscious effort to save. Many people look at me like I’m crazy, but I have already set up a retirement fund for my son. Yes, my seven year old has a retirement fund. And guess what? He has already put some of his own money into it…by his own decision.

When I’m with my friends, they talk about getting their kids to eat vegetables and calling it a “Mom Win”. And, sometimes, that is a “Mom Win”. (Hell will have frozen over by the time he’ll ever eat a carrot!) But, you want to know what a “Mom Win” is to me? It’s when your kid picks up a toy and says, “Mom, can I have this?? It’s really cool!!! …..but, I should probably save my money, I don’t really need it that bad.” WINNING!!

Yes, I make it a point to not hide my budget from my son. I make it a point to let him know when we’ve reached our budget on certain things and must put something back. I also make it a point to open the account statements with him and see how much our money has grown due to interest earned. Does all of this mean that we have no fun? Ummm….we’re going to Disney World this summer. We went on a cruise last year. Our house stays stocked with ice cream. And my son has a playroom overflowing with toys. Giving up some things to save doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything to save. It just means you have to make a choice. My kid gets it. Does yours?

WILLS – Get ‘Er Done

Decide to get your will done or re-evaluate your current one. Understand the valid need to have a will and its effects if you don’t. I’ve had two close friends die within the past few years and neither one had a will. They left their surviving spouses and family scrambling about to try and accomplish the many needed legal procedures, such as probate court; hiring an attorney to represent you in court; bank and savings account disposition. They were both lucky in one respect—neither had juvenile children and the associated problems of where and to whom they might be placed.

This all occurs at a time when all your available time has been compressed due to all of the running around and the accompanying research time trying to figure out just where and what needs to be declared and/or discovered in some instances due to one spouse either doing all the finances or a spouse letting the other spouse do everything. I attended and was a witness for one of the spouses and it involves lawyer dispositions and court “face time” not to mention the cost of all of this at a time when your finances are under strain.

Some of the major factors you should consider when you start the will process are: disposition of non-adult children; providing for individuals with special needs or circumstances; wealth transfer taxes; planning for the transfer or disposition of a closely held business interest; protecting assets and legacies from potential creditors; providing for a favorite charity, achieving “equity of inheritance” among beneficiaries and heirs.

If you’re married or in a relationship with a significant other and your interests are mutual, you should get with them to determine the best plan that you both can agree on and then write your respective wills. The last part is to have the will or wills executed which makes the will a valid legal document.