3 Ideas to Share and Save – 031

Memo from the Chief Mammal Header

“Working to help parents raise money-smart kids.”

We just moved my daughter into college, and I’m sitting by the fire in the lobby of the Graduate Seattle.

During this time of transition, I’m reflecting on a few quotes I keep in Evernote. I thought I’d share several good ones that I hope will resonate with you.

Welcome to this week’s 3 Ideas to Share and Save.

— 1 —

“The teacher learns more than the student.

The author learns more than the reader.

The speaker learns more than the attendee.

The way to learn is by doing.”

—James Clear

This quote rings true because I’ve learned just as much about myself and money while teaching my kids to get smart about the green stuff. During our journey, I’ve often felt like the student. It was this insight (“The teacher learns more than the student.”) that guided me as I wrote The Art of Allowance.

Writing is a clarifying experience (and perhaps its greatest value). The more I leaned into writing about teaching children money smarts, the more I realized that we (parents) learn so much along the journey. I believe being open to reflection and change in yourself is an essential and enriching part of the teaching process.

— 2 —

“Hollowed out, clay makes a pot. Where the pot’s not is where it’s useful.”

—Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching

I typically read a chapter of The Tao every day. (Partly because I discover new insights and party because each one is short!) In fact, I used another quote from Lao Tzu’s work to introduce my latest short essay. I’ve shared the quote above with family and friends (My wife loved it!), and it struck me that thinking of an allowance as a clay pot might be useful.

Setting up an allowance provides a structure for teaching money smarts. Where the metaphorical pot is useful, though, is in the area your kids’ experiences fill. Experiences like setting and saving for goals, making low-stakes mistakes along the way or having five dollars in a Share jar for a donation they want to make.

You might remember the graph below from the short essay I shared last week:

The ups and downs are where your program is most useful — in the space created by the structure your allowance provides. Those experiences are your children’s own and are therefore more meaningful.

— 3 —

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

—Naval Ravikant

I like to pair this quote with the following one:

“There are two ways to be wealthy — to get everything you want or to want everything you have.”

—Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman, The Daily Stoic

We want our kids to be happy. And any parent who has been to a store with a 5-year-old who comes face-to-face with the object of his or her desire understands one thing — that desire contract Ravikant writes about above is binding.

Our children are going to want for material things. As parents, we can help them become more aware of what drives these desires so they can find their own ways. We can prepare them for the real world by arming them for battle in the marketing arena.

We want them to understand that accumulating stuff is unlikely to bring them happiness or to be the manifestation of wealth that they might find fulfilling. I’ve learned quite a lot about these lessons in teaching my own kids.

To be sure, these are lifelong lessons. Be glad you’ve begun an ongoing, open conversation with your children. I’m confident your doing so will help them lead fulfilling lives in which they can learn to use money as a tool and not as an end unto itself.

As my daughter continues her journey in college, I hope you find time to enjoy your own.

John, Chief Mammal

P.S. Please consult with a financial or investment professional before engaging in any decisions that might affect your own financial well-being.

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