Getting an early start on personal finance puts kids ahead when it comes to long term financial success. The key is to make it fun and relevant for their young minds. And let’s be honest, that makes it better for parents too.
While most people invest in alternatives as a way to diversify a portfolio, they can also be a powerful way to pique the interest of kids.
Alternative assets can be an engaging way to teach kids about investing because, done thoughtfully, you can get (and keep) their attention – simply because its fun. The main thing is to focus on the things that matter to them most. Do this by 1) showing them how they can achieve a tangible reward in the end, 2) making the entire process relevant to them and 3) choosing an asset that is interesting to them.
Fortunately, those three things easily lend themselves to alternatives.
But First, the Basics
Before teaching kids about investing, you should teach them the basics of personal finances. Earning, saving, and responsible spending set the stage for investing, so cover those things first.
A few other key concepts that are easy for young minds to grasp, and are helpful to cover before investing, is the idea of risk/reward and delayed gratification. Important topics on their own yes, but necessary to apply once you get to the fun investing stuff.
Normalize Money Talk
At our house, we are always talking about money and investing. We want to normalize money conversations so that our kids are exposed to financial topics all the time and it’s never an awkward topic. So, when they started asking questions about investing and how it works, we were excited to have a true “teaching moment” about our favorite topic. BUT rather than lecture them, we wanted to get creative and make it fun for all of us.
Most importantly, we wanted to teach them using a real life, hands-on experience that included a (potential) reward, relevance, and most importantly, we had to make it interesting. This is not a small challenge when you are working with a 12 year old, 6 year old and 4 year old.
We decided to teach our kids how to invest in collectibles because the concept is simple: Buy something valuable and as time goes by and the value goes up (hopefully), you can sell it for a higher price and make a profit.
No sugar coating here. Giving a child a reward for completing a job or finishing their homework is the best way to get it done in our house.
The cool thing with investing in alternatives is that the kids can learn how to do research and make smart decisions that can result in a reward.
The idea that they can sell something and get more money for it than they spent on it was a legitimately appealing reward for them. Seeing real life examples of others that have done it made those rewards all the more real too.
And way more fun than chores and homework.
How many times have you heard “I’m never going to use this in real life” when it comes to school work? You may have even thought it yourself. I know I have.
Learning something new is more exciting and engaging when you can see a real world application.
With current research and tracking tools, you can show your kids how their potential investment is growing and progressing, making it relevant to their lives.
Real world connections, real world examples, and real world assets that they are familiar with make it clear that investing has visible and measurable results. When kids see how those results end up as more money in their account, it makes it all the more relevant for them.
It’s crucial (and fun) to choose an investment asset that your child is interested in.
Kids tend to want to learn everything they can about things they like. Not so different than adults, actually.
When a child actually wants to learn how to do something, the learning process is easier. Figure out what they like. Then run with it.
Alternatives That Our Kids Love
Our 12 year old is an analytical, math-loving, kid that loves LEGO. With such great resources on the market for investing in LEGO, this was a clear winner.
As a family, we spent a week browsing through LEGO sets and debating which would/should increase in value. We consulted reports and insights on various LEGO investing sites. We took breaks to build LEGO sets that we already had.
This gave us plenty of opportunities for discussion and debate.
Our daughter is a music lover and fashionista so we went straight to Rally to see what kind of cultural assets were listed. We browsed through designer bags and guitars owned my famous musicians like Carlos Santana.
Rally is especially fun to research because they list all kinds of things that would easily fit into cult favorite categories. The idea that we could invest in a classic car, a first edition Harry Potter book or a baseball signed by Babe Ruth all in the same day, kinda blew them away.
Gamified Investment Tracking
Researching LEGO and cult classic items was easily the most fun part of it all.
We invested in three LEGO sets that we agreed had the best risk/reward balance. We went with a classic Mickey Mouse set, a Friends sitcom set and a huge architectural set of the Taj Mahal.
Now the delayed gratification part comes in. But we want to make that part as fun as possible too!
Tracking alternatives in a kid-friendly way requires some gamification. At the end of each quarter, as a family, we look up the prices of each investment and track it in our Money Minx account. With colorful visuals and forward projections, our monthly check-ins feel more like keeping score in a game. And everyone gets a kick out of seeing the value go up! Well, so far at least.
We’ll teach our kids about stocks and mutual funds soon but for now we are working on keeping their interest, making it relevant and boosting the best chances of a reward. This way, investing becomes a life long interest – relevant and full of rewards, for years to come.