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6 Childish Lessons in Finance

I spent this past week in Home-Sweet-Colorado with family, including my 5 nieces and nephews, all of whom are under the age of 4.  A few meltdowns, a few dirty diapers, a few scrapped knees later, I’ve come away with some financial lessons that all children know; even if they don’t know it.  

1. When everyone else is freaking out, I will panic also.

If Jimmy screams, then Cooper will scream.  If Cooper screams, then Alex will scream.  If everyone is screaming, then I will scream too.  This form of domino chaos reminds me of those habitual stock market watchers.  Sure, if you are nearing retirement, you should be monitoring your portfolio more closely.  But if you are young, with 30+ years until you are out of the workforce, then perhaps those daily check-ups on your stocks are unwarranted, maybe even harmful; lest you liquidate everything on a not-so-hot tip or domino type panic.

2. It’s not always a fair trade.  

Someday an older kid may try to convince you to trade your working ray gun for his not-working ray gun.  He’ll try to tell you that his ray gun is way cooler, that you’re really getting the better end of the deal.  Making the most of your hard earned dollars means making informed decisions.  Do some research, take it for a test drive, take it to the mechanic (Mommy) before giving away your prized ray gun.

3. In life, there are opportunity costs.  

You can either get a toy at the Ballpark or a toy at the Zoo, not both.  Try explaining that to a two year old.  I know that these young kiddos can’t comprehend the concept of waiting for something better to come along, but work with me on this.  Be careful where you spend your money; if you spend it on crap you miss the chance to buy or save for something that you really wanted. 

4. The best things in life are free; or at least really really cheap.

We spent an hour taking turns turning the vacuum on and off – for free.  We also spent an afternoon at the Zoo – for close to $100.  I’ve had some bad nights out and some great nights in (and vice versa, of course); spending beau coup bucks isn’t always necessary.  Seriously, go turn on your vacuum and marvel. 

5. No one is immune, but you can have an immunity boost.

One of the kiddos had the flu.  Those who had been exposed to the bug recently didn’t catch it again; one of us was not so lucky.  Throughout our financial lives, we will all be burned by some flu-ish investments.  Exposure can lead to both better decision making and a little more caution.  Too much caution, like spraying every single surface with Lysol, can also be a bad thing.  Avoiding risk exposure altogether won’t prevent you from getting sick, the next time could be even worse. 

6. There’s no dessert if you don’t eat your dinner.

For the past two evenings Coop hasn’t eaten all of his dinner; the consequence, no dessert. Yes, I’m going to go with the obvious metaphor on this one.  If you aren’t saving, if you aren’t planning for the future right now, there’ll be no dessert.  Cooper gets a new chance to make a good decision every night, the rest of us aren’t so lucky.


Article publié pour la première fois le 19/07/2010