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Today I get to share a very special guest post with you! I asked my mom, Ruth, to share her parenting strategies and what she did to raise me into a money-smart, financial-independence-crazy entrepreneur. She’s one of the best people I know and she’s the reason why I am who I am. Enjoy!
Cody asked me if I would write a post for his blog about how to be frugal and raise a money-smart kid. Since he is literally able to bench press me with one arm, of course, I said yes!
My parents had lived through the Great Depression and were very frugal and did not waste ANYTHING. I think there was a cardboard box with the words “Strings too short to save” on it… Anyway, I grew up with that mentality and passed it on to my boys.
From a very young age, we taught Cody and Sam about investing. Cody was excited to see the interest he’d earned after putting his money into certificates of deposits (CDs). Turns out he still likes earning interest… he’s been maxing out his Roth ever since he turned 18!
We kept a bucket of colorful popsicle sticks and each one was worth 10 min of “screen time”. They each had their own cup to keep them in and could earn popsicle sticks by doing puzzles and problems from Mathmania and Puzzlemania books (It wasn’t until years later that they realized that none of their friends had to do this).
When we had to wait in long lines, we would give them math problems. I remember one time we were in line at the airport and we started Cody with 2+2 and then kept doubling it and pretty soon he was adding two 3 digit numbers in his head (to the complete astonishment of the people around us).
I taught them to take care of their things. They were taught to put DVDs and Xbox games back in the correct box when done… unlike some of their friends who had DVDs so scratched they were useless.
This one is a little weird but I would pay them 1 cent for each lap around the house and 10 cents for any leaf they could catch falling out of a tree to encourage them to be active.
I also tried to instill a love of learning with things like Leap Pad, Turbo Twist, and computer learning games. We would try to go to the library once a week.
My first glimpse that they had taken on some of my frugality was when we went to a town fair and there was a Ferris wheel that Sam wanted to go on. They were each allotted 10 tickets and most rides cost 5 tickets but the Ferris wheel was 8 tickets. When Sam saw that, he said “Nah, it’s not worth it. I’d rather go on two rides”.
Toys, games, and clothing came mostly from thrift shops and yard sales. As they got older and wanted clothes that were “cool”, we would go at the end of the season to a brand name store, and they knew to head down to the clearance section in the back.
Sometimes we would get restaurant gift certificates and we would make a game of getting as much food as we could for the least amount of money. We would try to get as close as we could do the GC amount without going over. Sometimes they would come with me on my “coupon quests” where I would stack coupons and offers and get a bunch of stuff to donate to their school for very little money.
We opted not to do an allowance but anything they would put into their savings account would get doubled by “the bank of dad” until they were 10 years old.
At one point, Cody just wanted to be rich and have a yellow sports car but once he read about the FI mentality, it really clicked with him. Cody and Sam are both extremely smart and were in the top of their class so when it came time for college, Cody wanted to be a Business major, and Sam wanted Engineering. They both looked at some of the high-end schools and even with a generous amount of scholarship money, it was a lot cheaper to go to a state school that had excellent Business and Engineering departments so of course, that was the choice.
Embarrassing Mom Comments
Cody is 22 and has already toured Australia for 6 months, started a disc golf company, has a lucrative job at a big city bank, started a blog and podcast, and is looking to buy rental properties. We went to a Camp FI together in Florida last summer as a Christmas present to him! Could I be more proud????
Cody’s Thoughts: I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a home with supportive parents who understood money. We were a middle-class family in a suburban town and the basics were always provided (food, shelter, education). I understand that this fact alone puts me in a far more advantageous situation than a lot of kids growing up and I will forever be grateful.
I also want to mention that my mom is AWESOME! I would not be anywhere close to where I am today without her guidance and support. What other mom out there is rooting for her 22-year-old son to quit his lucrative job and go full-blown entrepreneur??? Not many! So huge shout out to my mom for writing this post and more importantly, raising a money-smart kid (me)!