This Year, Give Your Kids and Grandkids a Gift That Will Change Their Lives Forever

Published December 21, 2017

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

I recently celebrated my 43rd revolution around the sun and engaged in an interesting Facebook feature, the ability to have your friends give money to a charity of your choice. I picked Junior Achievement of Georgia and was blessed enough to have friends, mentors, peers and family give in excess of $300 without me saying a word or making a pitch.

The experience reminded of my senior year at Lassiter High School when Junior Achievement (JA) of Georgia came in to teach our Honors Economics class. In 1993, JA sent in the owner-operator of a Chick Fil-A at one of the East Cobb locations here in Atlanta. While I don’t remember much about that class 25 years later, I do remember learning that a large iced tea cost the owner-operator 2 cents…and voila… the concept of the profit margin was born in my brain.

This was my first true lesson in Economics 101, never mind all the academic stuff and tests I took throughout that year. Even though I had gotten into University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school of undergrad Economics, it was the simplicity of the 2-cent iced tea that had an impact on this 18-year-old girl. The revelation clearly impacted me deeply, since I’m writing about it 25 years later.

So ‘tis the season of giving and everyone is in mall traffic gridlock around Atlanta (or on Amazon in my case) trying to come up with gifts for their kids and grandkids, hoping to bring unadulterated joyful chaos into the home. After all, that’s part of what makes the holidays feel like holidays! While these gifts of toys, tablets, video games, savings bonds or college 529 plan contributions are important, I would suggest that there is something far more valuable and meaningful you can give.

Teach your kids some fundamentals about money and engage with them on it.

Like the old adage about the value of a fish versus teaching a man to fish, giving the gift of financial understanding offers a lifetime of benefit that far exceeds the value of any financial gift itself. If you want to encourage financial success for your children and grandchildren throughout their lives, consider providing financial education that can help them enjoy the rewards of this knowledge for decades to come.

Here are 3 tips to build your financial education plan:

1.) Give them an allowance, and then let them use it – mistakes and all

If they don’t understand how “money spends” and how it feels when you don’t have enough or have a lot, money remains an esoteric concept. Make them monitor the check register, even though you don’t use checks. Seeing and understanding a credit/debit concept in practice is important, and this exercise will help make it real.

2.) Create rules for spending the allowance

I like the idea of dedicating 1/3 for fun, 1/3 to save for something big of their choice and 1/3 for charity. Go visit and engage with some local non-profits together, so that they have buy-in to the idea of supporting the charity of their choice. My son is an animal kid, so his philanthropic piece goes to animal rescue entities.

3.) Consider investing in something together

The engagement time together is a key component to this. You may wish to invest in a few local stocks or some basic mutual funds…or anything else. Whatever the child chooses to invest in, do it together. Systematically monitor the investment and review the statements together every month. This teaches how money can grow through wise investment, and it will also further the (grand)parenting relationship.

Without specifically targeted financial education even the brightest students don’t automatically come out of college knowing how money works, whether or not they’re graduating with a crazy amount of student loan debt. In my practice, I’ve seen the super-intelligent 20-something PhD students at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, have some of the same questions that I might get from my 12-year-old. Give your child or grandchild the best education around money that you can, so that they already know how the real world works when they’re ready to graduate.

Last year at a business function I happened to see that same owner-operator whose iced tea profit margin made such an impression on me. I talked with him and made sure to tell him about my experience and his profit margin lesson’s impact.

Do the same thing for your kids and grandkids: our future leaders. Financial knowledge is power, and this kind of power can lead to the amazing future you want for them.

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Meredith C. Moore, Registered Representative, offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, A Licensed Insurance Agency. 1125 Cambridge Square, Suite C, Alpharetta, GA 30009 (770) 587-0281. Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, A Registered Investment Adviser. Member Agent, The Nautilus Group® a service of New York Life Insurance Company. Moore and Associates Wealth Management is not owned or operated by NYLIFE Securities LLC or its affiliates. Moore and Associates Wealth Management as well as NYLIFE Securities LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice.

Ms. Moore can be reached via email at [email protected] or telephone at (770) 587-0281.