‘My mom clipped coupons every week’

Growing up in a single-parent home, I was always taught to have a frugal mindset. My mom clipped coupons every week, and her money concerns often became mine.

I thought that going to college and getting a high-paying job would solve all my financial problems. But even as my wife and I advanced in our careers, the majority of our earnings went into basic living expenses and paying off student debt.

But last year, at age 37, I achieved a net worth of $1 million. We took charge of our finances by saving more, starting side hustles and investing in real estate.

We also wanted to be financially responsible role models for our two young children. In 2020, my wife and I launched Parent Portfolio to help families learn to build generational wealth and raise financially literate kids.

Here are the five top money rules I teach my kids:

1. Always rethink one-time purchases.

2. Budgeting gives you more freedom.

Many people see budgets as being restrictive, but I actually see it as a tool to create more financial freedom; it saves you money by preventing you from overspending.

When my son wanted money for his school’s book fair, we gave him a budget of $40. To him, it became a game of how many books he could get under $40 that had value to him.

Another important lesson: Budgeting isn’t a “set it and forget it” practice. We revisit our budgets every month to make changes based on our current situation.

3. Don’t let social media influence your spending.

It’s easy to forget that social media is often just a highlight reel. When people post photos of lavish vacations or fancy new cars, that’s only part of the story.

We handle this kind of peer pressure by limiting our kids’ technology usage. We only allow them to be on their tablets on weekends, and for no longer than two hours a day.

We strive to set good examples, too. We never take out our phones when we eat together, and we use social media disabling apps to limit our daily activity to one hour a day.

4. Know where money comes in, and where it goes out.

We use age-appropriate language, tools and real world examples to teach our kids about more complex money topics.

To give them a tangible sense of what we do with our real estate business, for example, and where the money we earn comes from, we take them to project sites and introduce them to the contractors we work with.

We also use a lot of visuals. To illustrate how transactions work between banks, borrowers, tenants and landlords, I drew up a simple sketch with arrows pointing to each group.

5. Start saving early, and don’t expect to get rich overnight.

I talked to 70 parents of highly successful adults: 4 phrases they never used while raising them


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