As the founder of a money management site for families, I’ve been studying and implementing strategies for teaching kids good money habits full time since 2006 (and as a father of 5, I’ve been dabbling in the area long before then). Suffice it to say, I’ve read just about everything written on the topic of kids and money. After reading Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze, I can confidently say it’s now among the top two on my recommended reading list for parents (the other being The First National Bank of Dad by David Owen).
Smart Money Smart Kids is wonderfully practical and thoughtful. Its concepts are conveyed through real stories that keep the text engaging and memorable. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Dave Ramsey devotee (I’ll admit that a few of his stances drive me crazy) or you aren’t coming at this from a Christian perspective, you’ll get a lot of value out of 99% of this book. At minimum, reading the book will force you to systematically think through how you are teaching (or plan to teach) your own kids about money at each stage in their development. I guarantee you’ll find the book helpful if you’re interested in teaching your kids good money habits.
Some of my favorite themes from the book include:
- being explicit and intentional about teaching your kids sound money habits,
- allowing your kids learn by doing/trial/error,
- coaching without controlling,
- making the explicit connection between work and money early,
- encouraging entrepreneurship in kids,
- delaying gratification,
- discouraging debt,
- putting teens in charge of their own accounts and budgets,
- teaching kids about investing and wealth building sooner rather than later,
- teaching kids the notion of financial stewardship,
- maintaining firm boundaries while exhibiting balance and grace, and
- placing an emphasis on philanthropy and contentment.
My favorite concrete tips from the book include:
- the 401DAVE Plan for teens buying their first car,
- the Emergency Fund for teens,
- Dave’s wedding budget approach (really brilliant!),
- the debt-free college plan,
- the Family Constitution, and
- the Legacy Box.
If you’d like to read more detailed commentary on specific chapters to get a deeper sense for the book, check out these earlier posts:
- Teaching Kids Good Money Habits the Ramsey Way: Introduction
- Setting a Good Money Example for Your Kids: Sufficient? Necessary?
- Connecting the Dots Between Money and Work for Your Kids
- Striking a Balance with Kids and Money
- 4 Big Things Your Teen Can Save For
The bottom line: Smart Money Smart Kids is an outstanding book for any parent who is serious about teaching kids good money habits.