Teach Your Kids Financial Independence
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Teach Your Kids Financial Independence

For most parents, seeing their kids get a college degree and a good job is enough.

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Teach Your Kids Financial Independence

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For most parents, seeing their kids get a college degree and a good job is enough. Not for me. I wanted to see my kids have everything that they needed to live a life of wealth, so I taught them to become financially independent.

Before I explain what that process looked like, let me define a few things. I’ll start with wealth, which involves a lot more than money. In my mind, wealth also includes health, family, romance, generosity, adventure, and fun. If you don’t have an element of each of those in your life, I don’t consider you wealthy — regardless of how much money or investments you have.

The other thing I should define is financial independence. When you think about your kids launching into life on their own, you might think that having a job that pays the bills qualifies as being financially independent. In my mind, that does not even come close.

As long as you are relying on a paycheck from your job, you are dependent on someone else for your finances. True financial independence results from having a passive income over and above your paycheck that meets and exceeds all of your wants and needs. If you were to lose your job tomorrow and you could not pay your bills and still have money for travel, romance, generosity, and whatever else is important to you, then you are not financially independent.

Leading by example

The first step in teaching your kids financial independence is achieving it yourself. I love to use the illustration of the oxygen masks that we are all taught to use every time we take a flight. What do you do when traveling with a child? Put the mask on yourself first, then help your child. Why? You need to make sure you are safe first. What you do serves as a model for your child, encouraging them to do the same.

The same is true when it comes to finances. You cannot be in a bad financial position and lead your kids to a good one; you must lead by example.

If you have not yet achieved financial independence, pursue it and take your kids along for the journey. As you begin educating yourself and building a second stream of income, you will notice your kids asking you questions about it. This is the beginning of learning.

When teaching your kids about money, you don’t need to self-righteously shove it down their throats. Children are naturally curious. When they see you getting excited about becoming financially independent, they will want to learn what you are doing. Take the time to share your knowledge and experience with them. You will see them grow by leaps and bounds in both the way they think and the way they act when it comes to money.

Learning that risk is a part of life

Another important thing to teach your kids is the inevitability of risk. I showed them that everything is risky, but that we choose to accept certain risks and avoid others based on their probable rewards. They learned that, without embracing risk, they will never achieve their goals. They accepted that everything of value in life is on the other side of risk.

Playing Monopoly with your kids provides some good lessons in this area. If they never take a risk, spend some money, and buy a property, they have no hope of winning. It only takes a few games to realize that passing go and collecting $200 is not a strategy for success.

Moving beyond an allowance

Giving your kids an allowance to teach them about earning and budgeting might seem like a critical step in their financial education, but it doesn’t teach financial independence. All that teaches is what it is like to have a job. To teach financial independence, you must teach your kids that a job is just the ante to play the game. Real wealth comes from the second stream of income that you establish.

My kids knew that they needed to have a second stream of income by the age of eight. I also had them read “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Classon and accompany me to classes on real estate investing. After a lot of encouragement, they got it. My son graduated college with $4,000 a month in passive income. My daughter’s second stream of income makes her more than $100,000 a year.

The worst thing any parent can do is teach their kids that getting a job and climbing the corporate ladder is the only way to become financially independent. Kids who learn that end up working 50 or 60 hours a week in the rat race — they have no time for fitness, family, romance, adventure, or anything else. Sacrificing all of those things might make your kids rich, but it won’t make them financially independent. And, in the end, it won’t make them, or you, happy.

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