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Book Review: The Opposite of Spoiled by: Ron Lieber

the opposite of spoiledThe Opposite of Spoiled

By: Ron Lieber (Harper Collins, 2015)

Money can be a touchy subject for parents of all income levels. However, if you are a parent who wants to teach your children how to handle their finances, you may be looking for some help talking the talk. This book is meant to be part of that conversation.

It is no wonder why some parents find it challenging to discuss the topic of money with their children. There are positive and negative emotions tied into our thoughts about money at any given point. People's emotions have a huge impact on their financial decisions. Parenting, of course, has its own emotional charges and mixing these all together can be the perfect storm toward avoidance.

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money offers many practical talking points that parents can use with their children at any age. Ron Lieber, a personal finance columnist for The New York Times, has included his own years of research on the topic along with advice from psychologists and financial experts. His examples include families of different Socio-economic status using money dialogue with their kids that is focused on family values.

Kids are naturally curious and ask a lot of questions. "Are we rich?" "Are we poor?" One way to encourage kids to ask good questions is to praise them when they do and hope it becomes a habit. When it comes to questions regarding money, our answers as parents really matter. One example given by the author is how an encouraging "Why do you ask?" when answering the most common money questions asked by kids will expand the conversation a lot more than "We can't afford it".

So what exactly does it mean to be spoiled and what would the opposite of that look like? Spoiled is defined as children who embody a life of:

1.Few chores
2.Not many rules that govern their behavior
3.Parents and others lavish them with time and assistance
4.Have a lot of material possessions

All of the qualities and virtues that are the opposite of spoiled can be taught using money. This book is a blueprint for the best ways to handle many financial basics such as chores, tooth fairy, college, allowance, charity, savings, clothing, and part time jobs.

A theme throughout a lot of the conversations discussed in the book is to own our choices and not talk about or judge the choices made by others. These conversations are an opportunity to show our children what our family's goals and values are and ways in which we make choices for what will make us happy in an authentic way.

The Opposite of Spoiled explores the most integral question we can ask ourselves in relation to how we spend our money. How much is enough?

We need to remind our kids often that we can't have or do everything we want - life is all about trade-offs. What I liked most about this book was the humor and the sense of empowerment it provides for parents. These money conversations do not need to be a burden, but rather a way of enriching our relationship with our children and teaching them about delaying gratification.

My favorite quote from the book: "'Won't" requires much more conviction than 'Can't''".

If you polled parents about what they want their children to become later in life, my guess is that most would say Happy. Studies have shown that impulse control is one of the key skills to learn in order to have a satisfying life. What better way to teach about impulse control than with money?!

Some of the recommendations in the book are unconventional, like not tying household chores to allowance, but backed by good data that had me examining the way in which we were running things in my own household.

This is an informative and entertaining read for anyone who would like some advice on the topic of educating their kids about money while instilling an understanding that making it requires effort and time. The bottom line is that, talking about how much a family spends, saves and gives away is an important legacy to our children.

Refusing to let money remain a taboo subject in our culture moves us all forward in a positive way and this book is a great tool to help you and your family along the way.

 

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