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your money
changing the way you think about 

I love being a grandparent. The joy of children without the 24/7 responsibility of being a parent. Or as one of my clients so eloquently put it, “You can hand them back at the end of the day...”

Children copy their parents and the 'elders' in their family. That's how they learn. This is never more the case than with money and attitudes towards money. Much of what we learn from our parents about money is unconscious – it just seeps into us and gradually becomes our way of doing things too. My children are in their thirties I recognise some of their behaviour around money. I know where they learnt it. Some, not all alas, is good.

I realise of course that my relationship with money has been directly affected by my experiences as a child. My Dad was entrepreneurial, a risk taker, a worker and blamed himself terribly when things went wrong. My Mum recognised early on that money could buy status and so she focused on acquisition, rather than happiness, and was ever fearful that we hadn't got enough. Her focus, bless her, was actually on never having enough.

It's shocking to see these themes present in my own life. And yet how could it not be so? What we say and teach our children about money is really important. So imagine my delight when I came across Ron Lieber's 'The Opposite of Spoilt.' It is a brilliant manual to help you teach your children good habits around money. In teaching them and modelling the right behaviours you will learn so much yourself.

Think of it as some clever software that you can gradually introduce into their brains to help inoculate them against the relentless 'must haves' and peer pressure of a consumerist economy. An economy that judges us on what we have and less on who we are.

Here is one simple idea from the book. Give your child three jars and help them to label each jar 'Spend'  'Save' 'Give'. So the money they receive is always divided into three:

1.      Some to spend on whatever they want. This is important. Because they will want to spend it all on sweets or one thing. That's fine. Once spent, there is no more. We quickly learn about consequences.

2.      Some to save for a future need or want, something that's desirable. Huge lesson, you can have anything you want, but it takes time and it costs, so make sure you really want it.

3.      Some to Give to someone who needs it more than we do. Here then is the root of compassion, a direct understanding of the power of money and how part of why we're here is to help others.

Those three jars actually represent the basis of the financial plans that I help my adult clients to create. Wouldn't it be fabulous if these simple ideas were hard-wired into our kids, giving them the best chance of coping with the temptations and challenges they will inevitably face? What if their future decisions around money were driven by an innate understanding of how it works and what it means to have peace of mind?

I am offering a copy of Ron Lieber's marvellous book to the first email out of the hat on Friday 15th January. Just email your name and phone number to enter the draw.

And for the grandparents out is your chance to do it better!



There it is! A simple financial plan that will never let you down. All each of us has to do is work out on a regular basis how to allocate our money between these three priorities. By doing this we learn to make choices, those sometimes uncomfortable trade-offs between ‘this’ and ‘that’, between ‘now’ and ‘tomorrow’, between the ‘right’ thing and the ‘fun’ thing. Gradually we learn to view our financial lives as a continuum not, as so many of us do, from pay day to pay day.

When do we start?

Right at the beginning of course when we are children. Here is a life-changing observation:

You can’t always get what you want.

For the Stones fans out there, the rest of the line is true too.

In his brilliant new book ‘The Opposite of Spoiled’ Ron Lieber writes:

“We parents are in the adult making business after all, and we should do everything possible to build grown up humans with 15 or 20 years of experience handling money.”

The book deserves to be read by parents who want to learn how to bring up our children to make a better job of handling money, perhaps better than we have ourselves. This is not so much about the nuts and bolts of bank accounts and savings plans, it is more about how to teach our children the art of making conscious choices while living within their means.

I particularly like one of Ron Lieber’s suggestions about allowances. After agreeing an allowance with your child, divide the money equally into three jars. It is important for your child to be able to see the money, so not a piggy bank. Then label each jar SPEND SAVE GIVE and perhaps have some fun decorating each jar.
Effectively this is a first budget because there is money for spending soon, some for people who may need it more than we do and some to keep for when we may need or want something later. As the child gets older they can begin to allocate the money themselves in whatever proportion makes sense to them. It is important that they learn so they should be allowed to spend the money on anything they want.

This system will create a simple structure around which you can have many thoughtful conversations with your child. You will be handing them control over their own money and enabling them to make their own decisions about what they want. And you will be teaching them time-honoured lessons about budgeting and self-control.

As an adult would this training as a child have helped you make a better job of handling your finances?
Me too.