Money & Career

Five things I want my kids to know about money

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately especially because of the Task Force on Financial Literacy’s recent recommendations that Canada needs a strategy to tackle low levels of financial understanding across the country. Some of the Task Force’s recommendations involve teaching kids about personal finance in school. But there are some really important lessons that can only be taught at home.

The year I was born, my grandfather’s company went bankrupt. He lost just about everything, including his business, his house and a lot of friends – and he spent the rest of his life rebuilding his company and pulling himself back from the brink. It was never spoken of in our house, but that bankruptcy was always looming in the background when I was growing up – there was always this overwhelming fear that money had the power to destroy people. 

That’s probably why I want to teach my kids about money early – not only do I want them to understand how to save it and spend it wisely, I want them to have a healthy relationship with money that doesn’t involve fear or secrecy. 
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately especially because of the Task Force on Financial Literacy’s recent recommendations that Canada needs a strategy to tackle low levels of financial understanding across the country. Some of the Task Force’s recommendations involve teaching kids about personal finance in school. 
But there are some really important lessons that can only be taught at home. Here are five big ones I hope I can teach my own kids before they grow up: 
1. Debt takes away your power: Being weighed down by debt saps your creativity and robs you of money tomorrow. Debt is a major drag on your energy – avoid it where you can. 
2. Don’t be afraid of your finances: Finance and investment is an intimidating subject for many people. I want my kids to understand the basics and to understand where their money is and how much they have at all times. 
3. Save early: This is something I wish I had done. I was a graduate student with no money for a long time so I didn’t start saving in my 20s. If I had put away even a few dollars a week at that time I would be much further ahead today. 
4. Don’t just do it for the money: Yes it’s nice to get paid for what you do – but don’t make that your only motivation for working. I know a lot of people who are trapped in high paying jobs that they hate. Find something you love to do and let the money follow. Don’t let potential earnings be your only criteria for picking a career path. 
5. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back: My first great boss encouraged me to take risks, even it meant I might fail. This was a huge lesson in my life – failure can teach us a lot more than success. 

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