Teaching children about money

Dipankar Jakharia
Papa, are we rich? Are you the boss in your office? Why don’t we go for a vacation to Korea? Why don’t we buy a bigger house? Do you know Audi is an expensive car? These are the questions Radha bombarded her father with when she was in Class-I. For most parents, questions like these are awkward moments, especially if it is in front of friends and family. But for Arnab, these are opportunities. Arnab always believed that awkward questions children ask are actually an opportunity to build their character from early on.
Arnab and Aditi were clear about having an age-appropriate talk with their daughter, as a way to imprint values, virtues and character from early on. Arnab said that when children ask questions and they get answers, they get the idea that their curiosity is valued and it means that he is the source of that important information.
Arnab’s father is a retired Economics Professor. When Arnab was in college in the late Nineties, his father introduced him to Mutual Fund investments, something Arnab actually didn’t understand in the beginning. But when his father explained to him how the powerof compounding works, it openeda new horizon for him. The logic which his father installed in him was so profound that he has always been keeping some money aside for his investments.
Clearly, Arnab owes a lot to his father for teaching him the tricks of compound interest in a very simple manner. He also knows that what he’ll say or teach his daughter will stay on forever. “What I am doing for her future is important (read as investments). But what I teach her will outlast any amount in her account,” said Arnab again.
We often don’t discuss money topics with our children. I am pretty sure Arnab is a minority as a parent willing to discuss issues with children before time. This fundamental block in our society is an unproductive and often contentious one; sometimes even dangerous. Investing for the future of our children is universal in our society. But what to do with the money is seldom discussed. What will happen if you don’t teach him/ her how to handle the wealth you intent to leave behind? What if your children destroy everything you and your forefathers worked hard to build? Teaching them how to handle money later on might be too latefor some. I truly feel that what one learns in the beginning of his/her life makes a lot of difference.
Arnab often employs a trick whenever he visits an upmarket restaurant or goes for a luxury trip. He tells Radha beforehand that both Papa and Mama have worked hard and have been awarded a meal ata five-star eatery or on a trip abroad. By implying it to be an award, she understands the concept of hard work and doesn’t demand the same treatment of luxury every time they go out. “Keeping the concept of luxury as reward is the first lesson my father taught me and I am trying to do the same through stories and events for the little one”; claver Arnab told.