This post contains affiliate links from Amazon. All opinions are mine alone.
I got hit with the stomach bug this past Sunday evening, which was brutal—not only because I felt terrible, but because my girls managed to do some serious damage to the house during my period of incapacitation. Let’s just say if I’d known the epic mess they were capable of making with bread, peanut butter, and jelly, I would have just told them to eat candy for lunch.
The silver lining to being confined to the bed/couch for 24 hours was that 1) I was able to watch all five hours of The Bachelor without interruption or guilt, and 2) I was able to read this fantastic book in its entirety: The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money
I first heard about the book last Wednesday, and it was sitting on my doorstep by Friday (thanks, Amazon Prime!). The idea of teaching my kids about money is one I’ve been thinking about a lot, but it’s hard to know where to begin. Although I’d like to believe my husband and I do a pretty good job of placing limitations on the “stuff” our kids have, we don’t have a real game plan in terms of talking to them about finances, overseeing how they spend their own money, or having any sort of system to incentivize them to save or give.
While the title of this book was what drew me in, it doesn’t even begin to do it justice. Rather than simply doling out advice about not spoiling kids with too much stuff (in fact only one of the four factors in the author’s definition of “spoiled” has to do with possessions), Ron Lieber offers guidance for how to talk to kids honestly about money and answer even their most uncomfortable questions (How much do you make? Are we rich? Are we poor? Why does Jenna have more dolls than me?). It’s all about being open and honest with the goal of raising children who have perspective and are financially savvy, hardworking, patient, entrepreneurial, and also generous and charitable.
There are creative tips for handling everything from allowance to gifts to sports/extracurriculars to the tooth fairy—and a lot of the advice surprised me. For instance, Lieber advises using an allowance as a teaching tool rather than incentive to help out around the house (which he believes children should do for “free” simply because they’re part of the family). Also, he says that rather than always avoiding commercials, you should watch them with your kids when possible to open up a discussion of the various gimmicks that advertisers use to entice; the same goes for social media feeds if your kids are old enough to be on social media and are being influenced by what others have or appear to have.
The Opposite of Spoiled is full of practical examples from real families in all types of financial situations, so regardless of your own finances or financial values, you’ll find something relatable. I love that the author isn’t afraid to tackle gray areas, and understands that it can be difficult to navigate that fine line between guiding our children’s financial choices and forcing stringent spending guidelines on them that may cause them to rebel or be resentful down the road.
As I’ve found with most good parenting books, it really forces you to analyze yourself and your own habits while you think about what values and lessons you want to instill in your kids. A little self-analysis might be uncomfortable at times, but I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with kids five and older (or anyone with younger kids who wants to get a head start). I’ve already marked up many of the book’s pages with pen, and I have a feeling I’ll be turning to it time and time again over the years. And as soon as I finish scouring the crusted jelly off of my countertops, I’m going to get to work on creating an allowance plan and a spend/save/give system to use with my girls. On second thought…I think I’ll save the jelly for them to clean up. 🙂