Tag Archives: kids

The Kid You Left Behind

I simply love having money conversations.  They inspire me with even more learning about how our money stuff works.  During a podcast recording session with Michael Knouse of www.thestartupsessions.com I realized there was a piece of the idea of us all having five year olds running our money that I hadn’t actually blogged about…yet!  So here goes:

Let’s start off remembering about how you learned aboutkid money.  Oops, you didn’t actually learn about money, did you?  You learned about how people felt about money and most of them didn’t feel good about it.  You learned that it was taboo, verboten, simply not discussed.  And you learned that, well, even before you learned to talk. You noticed that this money thing was important.  Your folks dealt with it every day.   So you watched and came to conclusions, conclusions that never got revised or improved upon because nobody talked about it…nobody.

In many ways the story of money stalls out right there.  It’s why I say we all have 5 year olds running our money.  Only 1 person in 40 knows how much their parents actually made in dollars when they were young.  That translates to at most 2.5{d17d1c7cbc79c3528c645ea839b9b4dcb45f699f05bb148e76e09641ba980643} of people talking to kids about money.  That’s a very small group.

So here you are, grownups with money knots.  Big gnarly ones.   You might have debt, you might have trouble asking for it, you may even feel like everyone else knows this stuff except you.  Most of all you are likely to have a sense of shame and failure.  Wow, what a mess.

Well, here’s the truth.  You left your 5 year old self hidden away handling your money.   You didn’t know you did that.  It never occurred to you.

For just a moment, picture yourself as a 5 year old.  Really bring that cute kid to mind.   Imagine yourself in your play clothes, with dirty hands and junk in your pockets.  Got it?  Well, that’s who has been handling your money.  Now notice the look on that little kid’s face as the subject of money comes up.

Wide eyed and bewildered? Scared? Serious? What do you see?

This is truly one of those things that we just never realize until we do.  You had no idea you were leaving your little kid self in charge of this big person issue – money.  It was taboo to talk about, even with yourself.

Want proof that you left this part of you in charge?  Just look at what you do with money. And look also at what you don’t do.  Do you avoid looking at it like the plague?  Do you spend with wild abandon?  Do you get angry with money?  Do you obsess about money?  Do you hoard money?  Do you waste money?  All those things, along with some other similar choices, are what little kids do when they are up against it.  Think about it.

Here’s the remarkable thing.  Your 5 year old self has been running your money all this time and for a 5 year old they’ve done a pretty good job!  You left them holding the bag, in charge of the money, and never really came back to help.  I think all our 5 year old selves deserve medals for selfless devotion to a task they weren’t trained or prepared for.

And you deserve a break for not even knowing it was going on.  How could you?  No one talked about it.

So now it’s time for you to make a couple of changes:

1.     Give your 5 year old a fun, easy job.  Playing with your dog, helping make cookies, etc.  No more money management for that part of you!

2.     Find a different part of you to take over this job.  Someone who is willing to exercise strategies like getting expert help, paying attention, and learning how it works.

You wouldn’t actually pick your 5 year old self to run your money, would you?  I also suggest you don’t pick your teenage self for the job, and I know there is a great you in there that would really benefit from getting clear on this money stuff.

Look at it this way: If your 5 year old did as well as they did, imagine what you could do now?

Maybe a first step is to listen to the podcast of Michael Knouse and myself chatting this?  He’ll be publishing our call this coming Monday, July 13th.  I’m actually Episode #81.  He’s been busy with all sorts of fascinating people.   Check it out! But not until the Monday!  http://www.thestartupsessions.com/81



Jobs For The Kid In You!

The kids in this picture are way too young to be doing this money stuff, right?  And yet that’s the part of you that is doing your money stuff…

Once upon a time, you were a little kid.  As a child, you were a sponge, just soaking up jobslearning everywhere.  You learned about everything: walking, talking, eating, playing…even money.  Ah yes, money.  That learning about money was a bit different than learning about other things.  The first thing you learned about money is that “We don’t talk about it!”  You learned that there was emotion attached to money, and somehow it produced anxiety.

As you watched your folks deal with the stuff, you learned odd things.  You learned that money was scary.  You learned that people fought about it.  You learned it was somehow taboo.  You may have also learned to believe others things about money, like:

          It ruins families

          It is bad, dirty.

          It makes people selfish or foolish

With all that going, on most people decided to stop actually trying to deal with the stuff and leave their “little kid” part in charge of it.

Here’s the rub.  Would you actually, consciously, now choose to leave your, say five year old brain, in charge of your money?  Me thinks not!

Yet that’s what most of us have done.  Our little kid part that has the job of running our money often comes up with some weird financial choices.   Things like:

          Having lots of shoes will provide security

          Ignoring money will be effective

          Leaving all the money stuff to others is a good strategy

          Feeling bad can be solved by shopping

Please understand.  All this is not the fault of your little kid part, nor is it the fault of your adult part.  What happened was that when you were little, you in essence gave your five year old the job of running your money, and then you never reassigned the job to another part of you.

A couple of important things about this.

1.    Your little kid part has actually done an amazing job of this.  Frankly, it would seem that the results could, and probably even should, have been much worse.

2.    It’s really an exhausting and arduous task for your child side.

3.    Because there has been no external support for it, the little kid part of you actually doesn’t get better at running your money.

See, that’s the real problem.  It becomes a closed system.  You just keep circling around, doing the same things over and over in the same old way.

It’s not fair to you, and it’s really not fair to your little kid part.

So, how about you choose a different part of yourself to run the money?  One that is more worldly, one that is willing to ask for help, one that knows how to learn new skills and change behaviors?  And, I suggest, one that has left ‘little kid land’ behind.

And while you are at it, how about giving your little kid part a break?  A permanent reassignment to things that he or she is good at.  Things that are fun.  Things like coloring, making cookies, playing? And while you are at it, thank them for doing a job that is way over their head so faithfully for so long.  You would have quit years ago!

(And if you are part of the 2.5{d17d1c7cbc79c3528c645ea839b9b4dcb45f699f05bb148e76e09641ba980643} who actually already have adult parts of you running your money, good for you!  How about you spend some time with your little kid part too?  Just for the fun of it?)



Money Talk: Personal Life

“What?  Talk about money.  Oh no.  I can’t do that!”  I know that we were all raised not to talk about money.  It is, after all, the great taboo.  Even if you weren’t explicitly told verbally not to talk about it, you were ‘told’ by the actions you saw.

So here you are, an adult, and some sort of entrepreneur*: what do you do with that ‘don’t
talk about money’ thing now? personal

* The odds are really strong that, if you are reading this, you are self-employed, commission based, or an entrepreneur.  The explanation of why that is true is yet another blog…so back to the issue at hand.

Let’s make some distinctions here. Talking about money in our personal lives is different than talking about money in our business lives.  And since it’s such a big place, it’s going to be several blogs over several weeks!  So there!

Money Talk: Personal Life

Simply isn’t done, is it?  You’ve been trained that it’s rude or even crass to talk about money in your personal life.  Ironic, isn’t it, since we use it every day.  Additionally, there is so much emotional baggage around money that we feel weird even trying to talk about it.  This creates a genuine mess for most couples.  Another irony about this, from my perspective, is that money doesn’t actually create the emotion; we do.  Money has no opinion.  Ask money “how am I doing?” and it will say “you have $ 5,432.16”.  It won’t even engage in whether that is good, bad or indifferent.  We do that all on our own.

It’s a challenging thing to change this money talk stuff in our personal lives.  There is a great deal of cultural pressure to not talk about money.  And I think there are two places where you want to throw ‘caution to the wind’ and talk about it.  With your partner or spouse, and with your children.  Yep, you got it, with those people closest to you.

There are both emotional and practical reasons to talk to both your partner and your kids. When couples have money issues, it’s mostly about that the other person doesn’t see things the way you do.  Which, oh by the way, is actually one of the things that attracted you to them.

At the end of a talk I gave, a lady came up to me and said:  “Your talk was really great.  I need you to fix my husband.   He does all these really detailed, weird spreadsheets and wants me to track my spending.  Isn’t that just ridiculous.  I mean really!”  Seems pretty clear they are on different sides of a giant money chasm.

It’s tough to talk about money, not because money is so tough, but rather because what we make up about it is.

Think of it this way: most of us really do want more intimacy with our partner.  If we talk about money that will happen.  We will learn a lot about who they are, what they fear, where they need support.  And they will learn the same about you.

Here’s how to start. Ask about how money was when your partner was young (under 10).  Just be curious.  Try and understand how it was to be living in that world.  Have empathy.  The truth is that your partner is still in that world as far as their money thinking is concerned.  Then, some other time, tell your partner about how money was when you were a kid.  Go easy and slow.  There is a lot to learn here.

What about the children?  For many people, talking to their kids about money is even scarier than talking to them about sex.  You want to talk about money in ‘age appropriate’ ways.  The stock market isn’t what to talk about to a 5 year old.  I coached this guy once that just couldn’t save money.  He couldn’t save money because of what his parents had done.  One day they had broken open his beloved piggy bank and taken all the money.  He decided it wasn’t safe to save.  What actually had happened was that his parents had indeed broken his piggy and taken the money.  They took him and the money down to the bank and deposited it.  He ended up with this little blue book with numbers in it.  Here’s the problem; he was too young for this.  It wasn’t age appropriate.  He didn’t understand the silly old book or the numbers scribbled in it.  He’d had real coins and now he had a book.  Yuck.  Where’s his money go?

You can see that the parents were well intended, but they both went above what he could understand, and didn’t actually talk the whole thing through with him.  He thought his money was gone.

Here’s a caution about money and your kids.  Don’t get your money angst and emotion on them.  If you feel bad because you don’t have enough money for what they want, you are tying emotion to the money, and they will feel that and take it on.   The biggest thing your kids react to and internalize are the emotions you feel or express.  And they tie them to the thing you are feeling about.

Talking to your kids about money is not so much for now, as for the future.  They could have a relationship with money that is better and more effective than the one you have, if you can frame money differently for them now.

Please do start talking to your partner and your children about money.  Let’s change this taboo for the sake of having money be able to actually do its job, which is to tell us how we are doing.

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel for next week’s topic of talking money in business!



Cooking Competition

I must admit, I’m a sucker for cooking shows, probably because I love food!  I started way back when, with Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr.  Now we have entire channels dedicated to cooking, and, as they played with what to do to create 24/7 cooking content, someone cleverly came up with the idea of competition.  My guess is that it was a man…but I digress.

The competitions have included many names for the Crème de la crème in cooking.  Top Chef, MasterChef, The Taste, Iron Chef, etc.  Some shows focus on fastest chef like “Chopped”, or most ruthless chef like “Cut Throat Kitchen”.  All very entertaining.

And then we got to Kid Chef land a la MasterChef Junior, and something very interesting happened.

Here’s the deal.  MasterChef had been rolling along since 2010 and even has a huge international presence.  Apparently people all over the world like food as much as I do. Wow!  For a giggle, take a look at the giant list on Wikipedia under MasterChef; there are way more countries in on this than I would have guessed, and even more intriguing is the ones that aren’t on the list…and that is yet another digression.  Ooops.

The point is that with MasterChef having been around since 2010, we all knew the general drill when MasterChef Junior came on the scene in 2013.  But there were some unexpected differences.

cookingOh, we all hoped that Gordon wouldn’t go Hell’s Kitchen on them, Joe wouldn’t be as snarky, and Graham would be even nicer to them than the regular contestants.  And all that happened.  And it was a remarkable and fascinating thing how good their cooking was.

This was no let’s have the kids make Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches competition, this was real cooking!  Some of their things I know very well I’d struggle with, and I’m a pretty fine cook.

The thing that was truly important and remarkable for these kids, aged 8 to 13, was their interaction with each other.  It’s a thing called ‘sportsmanship’.  Webster’s definition is: fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.

They not only practiced it, they lived it.  If one of their competition had forgotten to get something from the kitchen, they shared.  When they had an advantage to play a certain way they took it, but in an open clean way.  They were supportive and encouraging.  It didn’t mean they weren’t worried about other competitors, they just tried to do better rather than take down the foe.

There was plenty of emotion, including frustration.  Kids got sometimes paired with other kids that really irked them, and yet they kept playing.  They didn’t pout or storm off. They genuinely cheered each other on, and were sad when others went home…while still wanting to win.

So when did that change?  When did we go from being supportive of each other, while doing our best and working to win, to a place of trying to trip up or psych out the competition?

There kids were human.  Some of them didn’t like each other.  Some of them weren’t likeable.  Some were full of themselves and some were painfully shy.  It does seem like none of them were bullies.

I like this, it warms my heart.  I’ve always like collaboration, and the idea that we can and should ALL do our best, and that tripping up our completion isn’t really our best.

What do you think?  Are these kids just naïve?  Are they headed for disaster?  Or might we learn from them?  Might we all do our best and cheer each other on?  Or at least try that first?

It seems to me that this is less about “turning the other cheek” and somehow getting hurt by someone, and more about keeping the standards of our own behavior.

For me, I’ll hang out in the kid’s kitchen any day…how about you?