New York Times  |  May 4, 2012

Ron Lieber of the New York Times reports that when it comes to teaching kids about money, it’s more about what you do than what you say. Lead by example. That’s what my parents did for me.

From the article:

THE NOTEBOOK The Rev. Keith Oglesby, Ms. Lyons Cole’s father, paid his way through Georgia State University in part by running a by-the-pound business called the Coffee Bean Barn in Atlanta.

And he did it by tracking every cent he spent. “I was able to make a dollar last,” he said. “And when I sold the business, that money seeded some of the life my wife and I made together.”

When Lauren, his eldest child, went off to college, he handed her a small spiral notebook to track her own spending, not really thinking she would do it.

Ms. Lyons Cole, who is now 30, still has that notebook tucked in her apartment in East Harlem, along with all the others she filled out from the first day of college until she started tracking her expenses on in 2007. The early entries from her freshman year at the University of Florida include $1 given to a homeless man and multiple entries for fast food at Chick-fil-A.

“This will make me sound like a money anorexic or something, but it was about having a sense of control, of knowing what was happening,” she said. “There was something about that routine that gave me a foundation at a time when everything was changing around me.”

Ms. Lyons Cole said she realized that financial planning was the right career choice after years of being the person at the party who meets new people and finds out their salary, rent and student loan payment in the first conversation. And part of the reason she has succeeded may be because her clients want to mimic the way she manages to afford to travel for at least a couple of months each year.

“I don’t believe in budgeting and don’t put limits on myself, but I do have awareness around my spending,” she said. “Like someone who eats healthily, it’s just a consciousness.”


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