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Book Review: The Opposite of Spoiled

The Opposite of Spoiled is written by author Ron Lieber, who is a columnist for the New York Times, and previously wrote a personal finance column for The Wall Street Journal.

Many of his recent articles discuss how to teach our kids to manage their money – which is exactly what his book is all about.

Book Rating

If you are interested in learning tips and ideas on how to teach your kids about finance, this book is a pretty good resource. I’d give it a 3.8 out of 5.

The Highlights

I love how realistic Lieber gets about kids capabilities and understanding.

From his perspective, there’s no coddling kids and “protecting” them from the concept of money or work. Avoiding the topic of money is not doing them any favors, and it certainly isn’t prolonging the innocence of childhood.

Quite the opposite.

Lieber focuses on how to open the dialogue with our kids about money, increasing their understanding of value.

He also provides specific examples on how to respond to the tough questions that naturally arise when you start talking with your kids about money.

Things like class structure, why some people are more fortunate than others, what we can and can’t afford.

Or perhaps one of the toughest areas parents seem to have these days, why even though we can afford something we are not going to buy it for our kids.

Lieber also proposes teaching our kids to regularly perform dollar per hour of fun assessments on the purchases they are making.

The assessment essentially mirrors the cost per wear, or cost per use analysis that I firmly believe all of us adults should be applying to our own purchases.

The assessment is simple enough for kids of a wide age range to understand, but helps them evaluate what is a good use of money in terms of return on investment, and what is not.

Even if your kids aren’t making purchases regularly, you could just as effectively have them use this assessment when they are thinking about what gifts they want on their “wish list” for birthdays or Christmas.

Helping our kids learn and apply this assessment when making purchase decisions, or even choosing activities, is an excellent way to start building the habit of critical analysis when it comes to spending.

I also found the section of the book on involving our kids in making decisions about charitable donations really insightful.

Lieber suggests that an appropriate age, involving our kids in deciding where and how we can give back as a way to develop their understanding of money and the importance of helping those less fortunate, while also having them take a hard look at where exactly that money is going.

Asking kids to identify what charity would they like to support, and allowing then to assess which charity is going to use their donation most effectively is a phenomenal way to get them presents yet another opportunity for kids to employ their critical analysis, but from a much different, more compassionate perspective.

I also love that Lieber encourages parents to help their kids find work at a young age.

I couldn’t agree with this concept more. Never has society treated kids as more useless than we do today.

It’s an absolute shame. We are robbing our kids of essential life lessons, tools, and the opportunity to make and learn from their mistakes early on.

Kids don’t help out around the house nearly the way they used to, and the age at which they obtain jobs is steadily rising.

Lieber questions why we are depriving our kids of the ability to learn a strong work ethic, and experience the responsibility and social development that comes when working for someone other than their parents.

Overall this book provides on point suggestions and strategies to open a financial dialogue with kids of all ages, as well as highlighting areas in which parents are commonly falling short when it comes to communicating with our kids about money.

I definitely recommend it as a great resource for any parent looking to initiate or improve their child’s financial literacy.

If you want to check out the book, try your local library (that’s where I found my copy) or alternatively you can find it here on Amazon.

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