The Joy of Financial Security a family affair

| March 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

usa-dollar-bills-1431130-sSometimes I think our girls are going to grow up thinking my favorite phrases are “Is that on sale?” or “You have one, you don’t need another one.” Sometimes I think they will say my favorite phrase is “Can’t we find that at Goodwill?” I know they are frustrated by how closely we track our money, but I also hope they are learning that we manage our money so we can go on family vacations, send them to college and still retire comfortably.

When I was asked if I wanted to read a new book called The Joy of Financial Security, I immediately said yes. The description of the book really spoke to me: “Imaging being able to manage your money in a way that not only helps you achieve financial security, but also increases your happiness. Simple changes such as focusing on gratitude, nurturing creativity, and choosing experiences with family and friends over more ‘stuff’ are encouraged” It’s really our family focus. I wanted to see if the book lived up to the description.

Author Donna Skeels Cygan, CFP, MBA, wrote a wonderful book described by Kirkus Reviews as “a thorough guide to keeping your finances — and emotions — in order.” I think keeping your emotions in check are the key to The Joy of Financial Security.  To help people understand how to pull it all together Skeels Cygan “interweaves research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience and economics with personal stories and practical strategies.” A lot of the stories are things you’ve read before. She emphasizes the importance of living within your means and not trying to keep up with the neighbors. She stresses the importance of budgets and goals and education.

What I think makes this book worth reading is her emphasis on experiences, not things. Skeels Cygan weaves stories about money as a supporting player in your happiness throughout the book. Are you happier with a new pair of earrings? Or would you be happier with a night out at the theater with your favorite date? In our house we always choose the night out. It’s something that seems radical to many people. When any of the gift giving holidays come around my husband and I buy token gifts so we have something to open with our girls. We save the big ticket items for things we can all enjoy, like a weekend away or theater tickets.

Whenever our girls ask for something new, whether it’s the latest gadget or new clothes, we ask them to choose. We’ll say that we can buy them the new thing or we can save the money to vacation. We’ll talk about the specific trip and explain how their chose can help us get their sooner. We also promise them one thing on the trip that they won’t be able to do at home. When our girls were little we’d say, “Do you want to buy that or would you rather put the money towards breakfast with the Princesses at Disney?” They didn’t always go what we wanted, but we did make them choose. From a very early age we wanted them to understand money basics.

I have often heard it said that wealthy families use money to pass down their family values. Why shouldn’t those of us who don’t have millions do the same thing? We pass down our family values every time we tell our girls that it’s important to donate money. We ask them to research charities and discuss their options at the dinner table. We talk about the importance of working for what you have rather than waiting for someone to give it to you. Our conversations are ongoing and woven though our daily lives. It’s something The Joy of Financial Security reinforces page by page.

After reading The Joy of Financial Security, I received some review books from Cloverleaf Books. The two that caught my eye were Ella Earns Her Own Money and Brody Borrows Money written by Lisa Bullard, with illustrations by Mike Moran. Designed for kids from 5 to 8 years old, the Money Basics series helps kids understand finances at their level.

The stories are simple, but relatable. Brody is on a field trip when he sees something he really wants. He doesn’t have enough money so he borrows some. The rest of the book takes the young reader through the consequences of borrowing money and what it means to owe money. Throughout the story are questions to help parents continue the conversation. Page 9 asks “Do you have money in something like a piggy bank?”

At the end of the book there’s an activity to reinforce the message. At the end of Ella Earns Her Own Money, there’s a Make a Money Chart. This activity helps kids understand how to track money. The idea is kids can track how long it takes to save for something special. In the example the child is saving for something that costs $20. Each dollar is drawn on the chart. As the child saves, he/she can mark it off dollar by dollar.

In addition, the end of each book has a glossary with a few words to help kids understand what each work means. Even though kids have a general understanding of the words, the glossary helps them put the words into money terms.

These two books are a nice complement to The Joy of Financial Security. If the next generation is going to truly understand money, it has to be a lifelong conversation. The Money Basics series is a good way to introduce children to money, while The Joy of Financial Security brings the conversation to level good for older teens and adults.

While these books are good resources, the most important part of achieving financial security is to be true to your family and its values. It doesn’t matter how much advice you read if you haven’t decided to go down that path yet.

Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Images courtesy of The Joy of Financial Security and Lerner Publishing.

Disclosure:  I received these books as part of a media review program. My words and opinions are my own.


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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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