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Wealth Virtues Journal: December 29, 2010

Want Financially Independent Children? Just Set an Example Using Virtue

Filed under: Virtues in Practice — Tags: , , , — James Ward @ 10:58 am
© 2009 Poor Richard Web Press, LLC

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In my book, Wealth Virtues, I provide a path to wealth to anyone regardless of age or income by redefining the perception of wealth, and describe how the use of Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues keeps you on that path. I wrote this book with my children in mind, to allow me to make three things come true:

  1. Create a debt-free, stress-free life for my family.
  2. Avoid being a financial burden on my children in my elder years.
  3. To provide my children with the same financial knowledge to make them financially independent, and to repeat these same goals for themselves.

In the book, I mentioned a brother-in-law who begins to save for an automobile right after he buys a new one.  Each vehicle he buys is paid in full without a loan.  He and my sister live a debt-free, comfortable life. The story here is their son, my nephew, who just bought his first car.

A few years back, my then 14 year-old nephew decided he wanted to have money to spend on something expensive, but with the approval of his parents.  He is different from most teens his age who, like their parents, feel they deserve certain things.  For example, many children want expensive items like a cell phone, but they don’t really need one. Most parents don’t have the guts to say no to their kids in regards to having unnecessary items like this by trying to justify them as some kind of safety device rather than an expensive novelty.  I have no issue with keeping a spare phone you provide to your children on an as needed basis, but neither I nor my siblings hand over expensive gear with reoccurring costs to our kids.  When the children are responsible enough and can pay for the “wants” themselves, then have at it.  I still don’t understand parents who allow, and pay the added cost for children as young as nine to have a cell phone. What – you can’t find a way for your children to love you without always giving them things they don’t need?

On my nephew’s quest for cash, he decided to start his own local business.  In an example of the use of Franklin’s virtues of Industry and Resolution, he went around to the neighbors and asked if they would like to have their lawns cut and trimmed for a fixed number of times per month at a flat monthly fee.  Ten people hired him.  After two summers, he had saved enough money to buy a late model convertible with leather seats, as well as funds left over for the insurance for a year. He did all of this before even turning the legal age to drive. So what is the difference between him and other teens who are given an automobile?

Some parents buy or give cars to their children who may have received good grades, or simply for the fact that they turned sixteen.  Where is the value in that?  What did the child really learn, except on how to be dependent on others? Rewarding someone for grades only lessens the value of learning upon children. Hey, if someone is going to give you something without you actually working for it, isn’t that great?  If you think so, maybe you will be one of those who opt for the unemployment check because it pays slightly better than an available job you actually have to work at. Not only have you lost your pride, you have become a parasite. I believe a great society takes care of those that are truly in need, not those that choose sloth over the virtue of Industry.

My nephew has more than a car. He, through the guidance of his parents, has built a foundation for future wealth.  He earned his car. He has run, for all intents, his own landscaping business. He has acquired customers. He learned about customer service, He learned to save for his wants.  He paid taxes on the car. He paid for the fuel to run the business and his car.  He has learned to be wealthy – all before the age of sixteen.

If it weren’t for his age (still being a minor) I’d give out his name. However, due to the recent government effort to regulate bake sales (a child nutrition bill signed President Obama gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers), I would be putting him in danger of having government nanny agents or OSHA come and regulate the lawn cutting business, and having him sued by advocates of illegal alien worker rights decrying him for taking work away from non-Americans.

American greatness wasn’t built by giving our children everything they wanted, but rather by teaching them how to get it using entrepreneurship as a tool. If you need to know how to get started, just look at the example set by our founding fathers. Start with practicing virtue. Find out how in Wealth Virtues.

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