Money management often feels very, very complicated. However, the simple, everyday lessons and principles we learn as parents can go a long way toward helping us gain financial independence.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.” â€• Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”
I always feel grateful to have my 8-year-old daughter, Mini Wise Money, in my life.
She has taught me more about myself, life, and my purpose in life than I would have learned without the privilege of being her mother.
Seeing the world though Mini's eyes, albeit merely occasionally due to the constant distractions and faulty assumptions I've acquired through my own life, has made a much better and more joyful person.
Mini has always demonstrated a loving and sharing nature. This is Mini feeding her grandma when she was 6 months old.
"Told you I was gonna take care of you when you are old, mommy."
--4-year-old Mini, while massaging the shoulders of her weary MS4 mother who just returned home from multiple residency interviews across the country.
The Lesson: Kids are a wonderful investment for our future. This is part of the traditional Chinese belief system, that kids are the best retirement plan. While I don't foresee myself needing Mini's financial support, the love, nurturing, and support reciprocated from my daughter certainly softens my fears for the unknown future.
"How much money will I make when I give kitty [Citi] bank my money?"
--4-year-old Mini asked me this question after depositing her piggy bank money into her first bank account at Citibank.
The Lesson: Every investor should ask how much return he or she is getting from lending his or her money, no matter whom they are lending to.
"I want to buy a part of Toyota, so they can work and make money for me."
--7-year-old Mini, when asked what she wanted to do with her Christmas gift money from Grandpa.
The Lesson: A gift that keeps on giving is an asset. A gift that depreciates and requires money out of our pockets to maintain is a liability. To build wealth, we buy assets, not liabilities.
"They are so poor that the only thing they have is money."
--8-year-old Mini, talking about rich people who are mean to others.
The Lesson: Money is a tool, not a purpose. If we gain the whole world's wealth but lose our touch with humanity, we are the most destitute of all.
"Why would I buy a gift that anyone could buy my friend for $40 dollars when I could make one that's so much better and costs me $2?"
--8 year old Mini, making a gorgeous tie-dye shirt and DIY cell phone case for her best friend.
Creating is much cooler than consuming. Letting our minds reign free and expressing ourselves not only is healthy for our wallet but truly great for our minds.
"Mommy, you are the poorest (in a numeric sense), hardest-working poor (in a overall, less tangible sense) person I know."
--7-year-old Mini started checking out other parents' financial statuses against that of Dr. Wise Money and concluded that DWM works a disproportionate number of hours (hours not available to entertain Mini) for the little amount of money she seems to have as an intern.
Dr. Wise Money shared this lesson with Mini: "Money isn't everything. Mommy chooses to be a doctor because I love this job. It's a privilege to save someone's life, even if it's just once in a blue moon. If mommy wanted to make money and that were my only goal, I would have been a billionaire by now instead of borrowing money from you to pay my high-interest student loans."
"Kids are expensive. If it weren't for me, you would have been really rich and would not be wearing socks and shoes with holes in them."
--8-year-old Mini, after joking around with me and taking a picture of her socks with holes at the doctor's office.
Dr. Wise Money shared this lesson with Mini: "The reason I work so hard and wear things with holes in them is because I have a greater purpose in life than decorating myself. It's to provide you, the most precious person in my life, with opportunities to better yourself and to expand your mind. I would not trade the whole world's treasure for one day not being your mom."
Lots of snuggling is healthy for our souls.
"I'd give all my money to keep Lola (a dog we rescued from the streets who became part of our family)."
--8-year-old Mini, about her dog when we were discussing giving Lola away.
The Lesson: Instead of spending all our time trying to make more money, we should spend our time on those we identify as worth all our money, especially when "all our money" is subjectively perceived as a fortune.
"Mommy, don't be scared of monies. I am here. (Mini gives DWM a hug.) Don't be scared of monies."
-- Toddler Mini, comforting DWM, who seemed distraught on the phone, talking about the expensive medical school she was about to start.
The Lesson: My financial and personal successes today have been largely driven by fear. Mini taught me not to be fearful and enslaved by money. Constantly reminding myself of what she said as a 2-year-old has been a grounding force for me. The instances, though rarer than I would like, when I labor in love, rather than fear, I find myself much more successful and efficient.
"Even though I didn't get on stage for lots trophies, I was so happy that daddy and you were at my graduation!"
-- 5-year-old Mini, at her kindergarten graduation ceremony.
The Lesson: Love is the greatest achievement that never peaks or peters out.
This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional accountant, financial adviser or lawyer, before making financial decisions.