Money conversations

“They Must Be Rich Because They Have a Pool”

Late last year, J took a trip with his dad to visit his cousins. When he got home, he recounted all his adventures and added, “they must be rich because they have a pool.”

A few years ago, I would have agreed with him. His cousins have a very large house, drive fancy cars and take elaborate vacations.

But then I read The Millionaire Next Door. (Here’s the first chapter if you want a preview!)

In it, the author makes the important point that you can’t tell how much people have based on what they buy.

Hearing it now, it makes total sense. But for 30+ years, I can say that that thought never occurred to me.

So we talked about it. I told him that you can’t tell how much people have saved. The pool doesn’t prove that they DO have a lot of money and it also doesn’t prove that they DON’T.

I brought it up again last night. I said, “Do you remember when you said that your cousins must be rich because they have a pool? Does having a pool or a fancy car or big house mean you are rich?” To which he replied no. I asked, “Does it mean that you aren’t rich?” And he also said no. (Woo! He remembered!)

Then I asked, “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, he was hard pressed to explain further.

So I explained again that there was NO WAY to tell how much money someone had saved based on their car or house or vacations. Maybe you can tell how much they spent, but really not even that completely because maybe they got the item at a discount or given to them.

More thoughts about being rich

When I was reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich, J asked, “Why do you want to be rich? Then you won’t go to heaven.”

Wow. Kids pick up SO much.

He was referring to this passage we heard at church:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I explained that I didn’t want to be rich to have a lot of stuff, but rather I wanted to have enough. Enough to live the kind of life I wanted to live — to take care of both of us, to see interesting things, to learn, to connect with people and to give to others. Basically to have freedom.

Listen to your kids and talk to them

I don’t know about yours, but at times J can talk a lot. Sometimes I’m busy and only half listening. But I think it’s important to try to find out what they are thinking. What information have they taken in and how have they processed it?

Once you do that, you can have conversations. Maybe you offer additional explanations, maybe give your own experience.

Acknowledging their thoughts and talking to them about those thoughts will help them feel loved and valued. Your kids will learn that they can talk to you.

And of course, they’ll learn about money as well. More than just how to balance their accounts or how to save for Christmas, but what money really means to your family.

What comments have your kids made about money? How did you reply? What thoughts did you have as a child that you have a different view of now? Leave a comment below!

2 replies on ““They Must Be Rich Because They Have a Pool””

I think it will be a while before I can have good conversations like that with my son.

I do try to reenforce good ideas like using money to buy things we need. Which translates to him needing money for his piggy bank to “buy ice cream and raspberry and bananas and…”

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