Monday, October 3, 2016

Ditch Directives And Tell Kids Real Money Stories

Woman telling kids a real money story.

Don’t let your ego or your emotions dictate what you buy! Always do your research before making a big purchase!”

“Yeah, Dad, whatever...”

Money directives hurled at your kids — “Don’t do this! Always do that!” — have a way of going in one ear and right out the other.

Try a real money story featuring yourself instead.

Like this one:

When your mom and I were first married in the mid ‘80s, the second generation Jeep Cherokee was all the rage. In fact, it was the pioneer of the modern SUV and the object of desire of hip young couples everywhere. You know, like your mom and I. So, naturally, I thought we had to have one.

I took your mom down to the car lot one weekend where we found a fire engine red Cherokee. The salesman assured me it was an ‘amazing’ deal and how lucky we were to snag it. The other salesmen all gave us big smiles and big thumbs up as we closed the deal.

I remember glancing in the rear view mirror to see them chuckling with one another as we drove it off the lot. It gave me a sinking feeling. The first of many.

The first time I drove it up a moderate grade, I got another sinking feeling. The 4 cylinder engine was completely gutless. Known problem. Should have got the 6.

When we drove from LA to my parent’s house near SF, we got another nice little surprise. Unbeknownst to me, that model was notorious for its shoddy radiator. Sure enough, we wound up stranded late at night on the side of Highway 5 in the middle of nowhere. We were halfway through our 400 mile trek with steam spewing out of our radiator. I cursed a blue streak as tried to flag down trucks barreling by. My frantic efforts were in vain. I probably looked slightly on the edge of sanity.

Your mom popped out of the car to replace my unsuccessful efforts. Not ten seconds later, a trucker was screeching to a halt to assist. Hmm. Let’s just say that your mom was a much more compelling reason to stop than I was...

Anyhow, after a little trucker-savvy jury rigging of the radiator, we were back on our way. I now had a nice 200 mile stretch to think about how quickly I could unload that piece of junk Cherokee.

So kids, the next time you’re considering a big purchase, just think of me and my crappy Cherokee. Ask yourself whether your ego or your emotions are driving your purchase. And, by all means, do your research before you pull the trigger.

Pro tip: the more of a money moron you are in the story, the more memorable and effective it will be.

Got a good money story for your kids?

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  1. I am living an example right now. We just bought a 10 year old Toyota Sienna. BTW, I am huge fan of Toyotas for reliability, dependability, etc. We got a great price on a 10 year old van with only 51K miles on it. It was and is near new condition. And... it has the XLE package with all of the bells and whistles. Well, after buying it I thought to myself 'I hope I don't regret buying something with all of these power options.' They break periodically and when they do it usually isn't cheap to fix.

    Sure enough, 3 months into ownership the motor / cable that drives the sliding door failed. The dealer wants $2400 to repair it. I think I can save a bit of $$, and we can afford that, but it is certainly $$ I would rather not put out.

    I will share this lesson with my boys today, pointing out that manual doors probably never fail and could have saved me $2400. Ugh. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Ouch! You definitely get frugal modeling points for buying used in the first place though. Kinda tough to anticipate when the power equipment is going to give out. Dealers always seem on the pricey side - might be able to save some with a local mechanic - the trick is finding one you like/trust. I've been fortunate to find one in my home town and it has saved us a bundle (as per Henry's #3 in this post: Thank you for sharing the story Doug. :-)