After you get your own finances in order, teaching your children basic financial skills is one of the most important things you can do. I agree with Andrew Tobias, who stated the following in his book The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need:
“I’m keenly aware that they are your kids, not mine, so I offer these suggestions with humility. But they have 70 years of financial security ahead if they get this right – perhaps the greatest gift you can give them – or else 70 years of money-worry if they get it wrong…so let’s try. Not least because if they’re financially secure when they’re grown, you’ll feel more secure.”
In other words, teaching your children basic money skills will end up helping you at least as much as them. Tobias then adds, “The overall ideas are so simple that any child can easily grasp them. Spend less than you have. Save the difference. Watch it grow. How complex is that?”
While the ideas of money management are simple, as any parent can attest getting your children to pay attention to you is not. Therefore, parents need all the help they can get in teaching these simple concepts to children, and I can’t imagine a more qualified ally than Warren Buffet.
Buffett is not only one of the world’s most successful investors and richest people, he is also a master teacher of financial principles. Buffett’s letters to shareholders’ are required reading in many business schools and people travel from all over the world for his question and answer sessions during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meetings.
Buffett’s homespun wisdom, memorable analogies, and unforgettable quotes make learning about business and investing natural and fun. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Andy Heyward, one of the creators of the popular animated TV Series Inspector Gadget, Buffett has turned himself into a cartoon to make his financial wisdom accessible to children.
The result is The Secret Millionaires Club (SMC), a web-based cartoon series starring Buffett. Each short episode teaches children a single concept about running a business, managing money, or living a good life. Children will love the cartoon format and parents will put up with the annoying theme song and corny jokes due to the great financial and life lessons Buffett teaches.
Studies show that any learning children do during the summer months puts them ahead of the game when school starts again in the Fall. Since schools generally do a poor job of teaching financial literacy this is a great summertime topic to study, and SMC is a fun way to do it.
After several weeks of summer I am sure parents are already tired of hearing the common hot-weather refrain of, “I’m bored.” While The Secret Millionaires Club won’t completely solve this problem it will provide a fun daily activity kids and parents can do together.
There are currently 26 episodes posted on the website, and each episode has an accompanying “Activity Guide” giving parents ideas of questions to ask and additional activities to do to reinforce the lessons. Each episode lasts about 4 minutes. You can also download a comic book to go along with each episode. Many of the episodes contain simple lessons about running a business, so don’t be surprised if watching SMC motivates your child to start a lemonade stand, car washing, lawn mowing, babysitting, or dog walking business.
I like The Secret Millionaires Club because it keeps kids interested and provides a structure for parents to teach their kids financial principles. Watching the episodes and using the “Activity Guides” should lead to some great conversations about important topics. SMC is geared towards elementary and middle-school aged children.
Each episode ends with Buffett saying: “The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.” Even if they get nothing else out of watching, having your kids hear that message 26 times during the summer would make The Secret Millionaires Club worthwhile. I highly recommend it.