I think one of the most challenging things for me when I started building my own businesses was that I didn't actually know anything about finance. I was always interested in English and drama, and I was more interested in the art classes at school. I can tell from my diary that I studied economics, but I have no memory of the course. I used to keep a journal, a teenage diary, and there was some stuff in there about when I was at an economics course, and I don't even remember doing it. I guess that mathematical stuff, I failed maths in school, the economic stuff just went straight over my head. I wasn't particularly interested in it. And then when I got out into the world and started making a living, I figured out how to save my money by just putting some aside and spending the minimum that I needed to live, and that way I would have saved.
But it became apparent to me when I was working and my mom actually sat me down one day and started showing me how to balance my checkbook that my parents had never taught me how to manage money, and I certainly hadn't learned it in school. I think as parents we need to start thinking about, what exposure are we giving our kids to creating wealth? Because, honestly, it's hard for us as adults to completely readjust all our behavior and learn how to go from being consumers, which frankly, we've all been raised to be consumers. Any of us that has grown up in the industry of the TV, since TV became mainstream in every household, we've been groomed from a young age to go out and spend more than we earn. So we actually have a responsibility to retrain our kids so that they understand the concept of delayed gratification, saving for the future, learning how to invest.
So to give you some examples of how this can be applied and I wish I'd done it better is when your kids are young, a really big one that I started early on because my husband and I had already become quite wealthy when my kids were young, we had to start figuring out how to say no to the kids because what happens is it becomes a conundrum. They want to buy everything, and if you keep saying yes, then it's like a bottomless pit and they become spoiled, unfortunately. You can't just give kids everything they want all the time. They have to learn how to manage their expectations. So what I did with my kids early on was I started giving them an allowance, which actually just went straight into their bank account. I actually went through a period with my kids when they were young where there was a company that was putting racks of cheap toys everywhere, at the pharmacy, at the post office, the supermarket. Everywhere, you took your kids, there were these racks of toys.
My kids would say, "I want one, I want one," and I started saying, "Well, do you want it enough to pay for it out of your own money?" And they would say, "Oh no." So right away, they actually started to learn how to make choices about what was important in life. Would they rather have their own money so they could buy something better? My son was saving up because he wanted to buy one of those three-wheel ATV things. My daughter was saving up because she wanted to buy, I don't know, some fancy dollhouse. I would say, "Well, do you want to take the money out of your savings account to buy this thing?" And they would weigh it up and usually say no. And then when my son was about eight, I decided I wanted to do an options trading course. I wanted to do this thing over the weekend and learn how to trade the stock market using options trading, and I didn't have a babysitter for him. By then, I was divorced and my husband couldn't take him.
I took him along with me to the options training course, and he really picked it up fast. He was at this sponge stage of his life where he was really open to learning new things. He picked it up much faster than I did and really enjoyed it. Now, unfortunately, he doesn't have any interest in that now that he's in his 20s, but I think he'd be really awesome at it, and I'm hoping to get him back into it because he just had a natural aptitude for investing in the stock market. He's very bright and I would love to see him applying that skill towards something like investing. But I find that if you leave it until they're in their 20s and they have other interests, it's a lot harder to engage them. You need to get kids learning about financial stuff when they still think you're the bee's knees before they're 12 to 14 when they think their parents are really smart and have a lot of good things to teach them.
Unfortunately, what happens is once they get into their teen years, they just naturally want to break away and be different from their parents. And so then they start wanting to do something else. I was very lucky with my daughter in that she was just naturally driven. And when she chose to go to boarding school, she was separated from me at age 12, she lived nearby so I still would go and visit her and have her on the weekends and all her friends, but she's always had a very strong sense of herself and she decided that she wanted to start working when she was about 14. And I said, "Well, you can't, you don't have a car, you don't drive, and you're at boarding school." Instead she started volunteering for charitable work so that she could start building up her, what we call, a CV, or what do they call that in the States? See, I haven't had to go for a job so long, I can't remember what they're called.
She then wanted to become a lawyer so she started working in law firms and now she's doing her master's in law and she's very, very responsible with her money and is interested in investing now because she's earning money and paying taxes, and so now she's wanting me to teach her about crypto and she wants to learn about investing. So I think the earlier you can get them through interested when they're open to it then the better off you'll be with your kids.
Cydney O'Sullivan, Founder of Millionaires Training