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It Makes the World Go ‘Round

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The only thing as powerful as sex is money. OK, an icy cold vodka martini is up there too. In fact, shake or stir all three together and empires could topple. Probably have. As responsible, involved parents, we’re hopefully having on-going discussions with our kids, especially teens, about how, when and if to get involved with sex and alcohol. But how many of us are having those same responsibility-themed discussions with our kids about money? Personally, I like money. I like earning it, spending it, investing it and just plain having it. I understand it and feel comfortable with it. Above all, I’ve always been responsible with it. (Sometimes more so than with other members of the power trilogy.) I’m not sure where this responsibility and understanding comes from. It’s certainly not a family trait. For her 65th birthday, my father got my mother a checking account. “It’s about time she learned how to use one,” he muttered. Mom just had no use for it what so ever, and if she could have returned it, she would have. She continues to pull out the credit cards when she buys something. One sister has no concept of money. Fifty cents or fifty thousand, it’s all the same to her. One sister married into gobs of it, so she’s off the hook. My brother has the first dime he ever made and will most likely never part with it. Another sister constantly whines they have none, even as they board the cruise ship for the Bahamas. So how do you start teaching your kids about the power and responsibility of making and handling money? I talk to Alex about things like interest rates, compound yields, the stock and bond market, and the bulls and the bears along with birds and the bees. He likes money too. Mostly to have it to spend on paint ball “bullets”, snowboard stuff and candy and gum he’s not allowed to have. And he likes the idea of earning it, but is not too crazy about the whole job thing that goes along with that. I admit I’ve been pretty sporadic about doling out allowance. Right now he gets $40 a month that is supposed to cover all the “extras”. Some of that also should go into his savings account, but doesn’t make it unless I take it there. Did you know that if you save $1,000 a year from age 16, and put no other money aside, you will have over a million buckaroos when you reach age 65? Yeah, I know what the future value of that is, but tell a teenager he’ll have a million bucks and you get his attention. So are our concepts and feelings about money part of our DNA? Or are they learned? Do you talk to your kids about money? Do they get an allowance? How much and what do they spend it on? Do you ever veto their purchases? I’m interested to know how other families handle the power of the green. Happy Thanksgiving!

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