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Money monsters to money masters

Jae S. Lee

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Do your kids or grandkids understand principles of responsible money management? Lee shares her system of habits that helps guide clients to teach children to be financially responsible. Presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

Who thinks their children or grandchildren are money masters? Who thinks they are money monsters? You know that the children are the gifts, right? So stop calling them life suckers, energy drainers, or freeloaders.

I’d like to talk to you about how to rebrand ourselves as well-rounded money experts who also guide our clients to teach their young children or grandchildren to be money masters.

You have probably heard that 70 percent of family wealth is gone by the second generation and 90 percent by the third generation. The second biggest fear for most wealthy people, next to health, is the fear of ruining their children or their grandchildren with the money simply handed to them. Their worst nightmare that often comes true is that these children inherit the money and squander it all. Why? Largely because they were never taught what to do with money and how to manage it wisely. Many of them become conspicuous consumers and impulsive spenders. They become what I call money monsters, and often their parents or grandparents are the creators.

As a mother of twin boys, I had the same struggle when my kids were young, and I eventually developed a seven-habit system to help my children to become financially responsible. I’d like to share with you the two most important habits, so let’s get it started.

Habit Number One: Teach Them the Benefit of Saving Early

If we want our children to become money masters, we need to plant the seed of saving early. When my kids were still very young, every time they asked me to buy them things or give them money or take them to different places, my answer was, “What are you willing to do to earn that money or the reward?” Of course it’s work, right?

So I encouraged my boys to do age-appropriate chores at home ever since they were two years old. They did all kinds of chores—emptying the trash bags, raking leaves, watering the plants, you name it.  And I helped them to save their money. I bought them a piggy bank and gave them coins as a weekly allowance. And I also made the paper wallets together with them for their paper money. Once the piggy bank gets filled, take them to the local bank or brokerage firm and have them meet the bankers or advisors in person. Open their checking or investment account and show them the step-by-step process about what to do with money, and tell them, “You are a money master, and I am very proud of you!”

Habit Number Two: Create a Reward System

We parents often make the mistake of forcing our children to do too many things. We take them to soccer practice, Taekwondo class, swimming lessons, and so on. But most of the time, we forget to reward our children for their work. Even fun activities are a great requirement on our children’s energy and time, just like a job is. Rewards have tremendous impacts that make our children feel recognized and appreciated. I developed many reward systems for my children over the years, and one of them is called “Morning Stuff Allowance.” Ever since they were in kindergarten, our morning has been stress and hassle free because of this project. My boys did everything in the morning by themselves, from getting up early, having breakfast, all the way to getting themselves ready for school plus other required activities. When they finished all of the activities with good attitudes, they received the promised reward and allowance. On top of monetary rewards, they also received huge applause and compliments from us, which is a powerful psychological and emotional reward. You can download some of the charts I created from my website and give them to your clients. It’s all free.

Every child has the unlimited potential to be a great money master. If our children are taught early how to earn, save, invest, and share wisely just like how they learn to ride a bicycle, they can master this skill. Every day our children are bombarded by all kinds of wrong messages about money and success from social media, Hollywood movies, peer pressure, and ill-intended salespeople. If we don’t help our clients teach their young children about this important topic, someone else will, and they may not like the outcome.

Helping our clients to take charge of teaching their children money management and financial responsibility is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. So let’s educate our clients, protect our children, and create the world of money masters together.

Jae S. Lee is a seven-year MDRT member with one Court of the Table qualification. A respected and trusted financial advisor serving clients from all walks of life in Southern California, she is the owner and CEO of Good Life Advisors, a full-service insurance agency in Torrance, California.


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