It’s become a tradition in sports that when players accomplish something notable, they give a shout-out to their mothers. And when it comes to financial wisdom, more than half of children 8 to 14 go to their mothers first when they have a question about money, according to T. Rowe Price’s annual survey about parents, kids, and money.
For me, it was my grandmother, Big Mama, who was my go-to adviser. Nonetheless, I know there are many fathers taking the lead in teaching their children about using money. Dads may not get as much public recognition or as many gifts on Father’s Day, but many are modeling the financial behavior that will help their children become good money managers.
But let’s say you’re a father who can’t quite articulate the financial advice your children need. I have just the papa to help mentor you. For this month’s Color of Money Book Club, I’ve selected “No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Letters to My Grandchildren” by John D. Spooner (Business Plus, $25.99), a Boston-based investment adviser.
“This book is not just for my grandchildren about to emerge into a challenging adult world,” Spooner writes. “It’s for all of you children and grandchildren, with too few practical mentors, who can all use some advice from someone with lots of bruises, someone still standing and still up for the game.”
Spooner has written 59 letters to his four grandchildren that cover topics such as getting a job to owning real estate. His advice is common sense and amusing.
On getting a job, he writes: “Never call a busy person first thing on Monday morning. Busy people are getting into their business routines for the week. . . . Call Tuesday afternoon, after lunch.”
After landing that job: “When you run meetings eventually, hammer away at the important points in simple language. And if you schedule a meeting to last an hour, finish it fifteen minutes early. Everyone who works for you will appreciate it.”
Tell your children to have a plan in place should they lose their jobs. Update the contingency plan every year. And I love this tip Spooner received from a client: Have a list of the first five people to call who either can help you network or might offer you employment.
Face your problems, Spooner writes in one of his letters. I wish more people would follow this sage advice. I get so frustrated when people ask for help after avoiding a financial problem for a long time. By the time they come to you, their options are limited. “It took years for me to learn to deal with mistakes quickly,” he says. “Be decisive even if in hurts for a bit to admit you’re not quite perfect.”
You won’t be making a mistake reading his book or passing it on to your children.