Scott Carson talks with author and money mentor, Clifton Corbin, about his book Your Kids, Their Money! Clifton shares his journey from leaving the corporate world to being a stay-at-home dad and money educator. Clifton shares some of his lessons for success and his family’s journey to where they are today and how other families can do the same thing.
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Your Kids, Their Money: Teaching Financial Literacy To Your Children With Clifton Corbin
My name is Clifton Corbin, the author of Your Kids, Their Money. I’m happy to have been on the Note Closer Show with Scott. I got a chance to talk about how you can help raise financially literate children. I’m super excited about this episode. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Take good care and we’ll talk soon.
I’m jacked up and excited to be here with you. Thank you as always for tuning in, I’m honored to have you as part of the note family out there across the world. We’ve got a very special guest. This guy is motivated and dedicated to his why. Somebody who has a huge passion for helping people and our kids take their finance and numbers to a whole different level. He is a business consultant with decades of experience and then he left his office to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.
He’s also offered his first book, Your Kids, Their Money, which focuses on providing parents with the skills and tools to teach financial literacy to their children. We all know that we live in such a financially uneducated society. We’re so excited to have the man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Clifton Corbin, MBA, joins us here on the show. What is going on, Clifton? How are you doing?
I’m doing well, Scott. Thanks for that introduction. I’m energized by your energy. Thank you for that.
We met at FinCon. It’s such a good energy conference. I know I got a lot of it and you got a lot of it. We just crossed paths a couple of times. I was like, “Tell me what you do.” We got to talk and I was like, “I got to have you on this show.” Our audiences out there are all entrepreneurs of some sort, either working in their jobs and then doing a side hustle like real estate or note investing.
The other half is also investors that are investing in real estate and other things full-time. The last time I checked, at least 50% of our audience had kids. When we talked about your book there, I was like, “We got to have you on to talk about this.” Let’s talk a little about your background before we dive into the nuts and bolts of Your Kids, Their Money book.
You outlined it a little bit there. I was a workaday guy. I had my job. I was a financial consultant. I was managing a couple of million dollars in budgets. Before all of that and getting to my adult working life, I was a student. I went to university. The weird thing about it was when I was younger, I was so curious about money. I couldn’t learn enough about money. I was that kid who had the lemonade stand and the side hustle washing cars.
My dad was a mechanic so I was the one who bought the oil wholesale for him and I sold it retail to his customers. I was all about earning money when I was young, and then I went off to university. There are too many stories you’ve heard. I know this is not a new story for you or most of your audience. I went off to university. I got those early credit cards and I made a mess of my finances. My credit scores shot. My debt is through the roof. For someone who was so curious about money, it didn’t seem right.
You probably got some cool T-shirts, though.
It wasn’t the T-shirts for me. It was music. Back in the day, I used to be a DJ. I’m going to date myself a bit, but I remember when Tribe Called Quest had their last album out, I went out and had to get it right away. I was buying stuff like that. As we know now, anyone who’s got a bit of sense in their head knows that buying consumables on a debt has no value there. It’s just a waste. I didn’t have that knowledge going into my young adulthood.
I was able to dig myself out of that debt and trust me, it took a while. That was most of my mid-20s into my 30s. Once I got out of it, I looked back and I was like, “I had so much interest in this subject. I was so hungry to know about how money works, how to make money, and all of these things, yet I got into school and I still made a mess of my money.” I was lucky to have parents who were willing to talk to me about money. A lot of young folks don’t necessarily have that.
I remember there were times that I’d say, “Mom, Dad, how much money do you make?” They would not just tell me but they’d go grab a pay stub and they would show me. I had that as an advantage and yet, I still made a mess. I went back and I was like, “How do I fix this? How do I stop this next generation from falling into the same money habits and money traps that I did?” That’s my why.
That’s why I wrote the book. That’s why I’m here talking to you. That’s why I’m working on all the projects I’m working on. It’s an effort to help the next generation avoid some of those mistakes and launch into adulthood with their feet underneath them like what I did to myself. That is my why. That’s why I do what I do.
It’s such a great thing. I’m friends with Sharon Lechter who’s the co-author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. She’s got this big initiative of starting to get financial education taught in high school. I remember going in my junior and senior years, we had a 30-minute segment in one class about balancing a checkbook. That was about it. They don’t even do that anymore. There was no talk about credit cards or investing. There’s nothing out there.
When you get to college, that first class you take is that easy A that we all have that the university charges to attend to learn how to study or learn how to time block. There’s nothing there about the minefields or pitfalls that you’re going to see as a college student. When I was on campus, they always had to get sign up for a credit card and get a T-shirt, a mug or something like that. How many Columbia House records did you buy on your credit cards?
When you get off on your own, how many times are you being offered to buy something? We’re not even including all the ads, the consumer, the pain, and buy now, pay later opportunities. If you get off on your own, especially in that college setting on campus, those credit cards are coming at you right away. When I got into university, I got student loans, credit cards, and all of these things. I also had my rent check, cell phone and internet bill. I had all of these utilities and all of these bills.
When I got into university, I had never owed anyone anything. That’s not a bad thing when you think about it. I didn’t have any debt, but I also hadn’t paid anything. I’ve never paid a bill. I had never actually experienced what it was like to pay for something on a regular basis. That’s the kind of money habit I’m trying to encourage parents to give their kids at an early age.
I’m not trying to tell parents, “Put your kids in debt.” What I am saying is here are the chances for you as an adult or someone in the child’s life to give them an opportunity to start practicing these things that we will do as an adult. If we could learn or figure these things out when we’re young, then we’re setting our young people up for more success. That’s the thing.
One of the things that also fall in line is a lot of people don’t know their options. As an ex-banker, I can’t tell you how many times people came to the bank. I would say something and they would just look at me like a deer in headlights. I’m like, “Let me explain this. Let’s take this back to doing this, setting this up, or setting that up.” Let me ask you that before we dive more into the nuts and bolts. You have adults that are elementary kids when it comes to finance. That’s why they’re not teaching their kids because they don’t know any better. That comes from a lot of things and hurdles.
I hate to say this but I think the banks are behind a lot of stuff because we buy debt in what we do here. The banks have a lot of minefields set out there that look like tasty little items that we gobble up that turn out to be very bad for us in the long run. What are some of the biggest fallacies or hurdles that you see people making that you bang your head against, Clifton?
If we’re talking about adults, it’s back to what I was talking about. It’s not using debt in a wise way. It sets you back the farthest. If you want to combine that with the other side of it, which is not focused on wealth and wealth creation early enough. You need to take advantage of the time to actually start getting some of those compounding effects. You need to focus on time so you can minimize any risk that you’re going to have.
If you combine those two together, you’re setting yourself back and you’re not building that wealth to grow forward. Those are the two big ones. If we’re just talking about the parenting side, a lot of parents avoid these conversations because maybe they themselves don’t feel like they’re equipped to have it.
What I often say is there are two things. One, you know more than your child knows. No matter where you are on that journey, you definitely do. Even if you’ve gone out and got a bank account, you’re putting my money in the bank and not doing any of the other things that you might need to be doing, you’re doing more and you know more than your child.
That gives you an opportunity. You can grow and learn with your child, which is one of the things I encourage in my book. If you’re not where you want to be, you could bring your child along on that journey with you so they can see what you’ve done, how you’re growing, how you’re building, and how you’re paying off your debt in a child-appropriate way.
You’re not trying to put any undue stress or anxiety on your child, but you can grow with them. As they see you building up your wealth, they can see what it takes. They can see some of the pitfalls that you have. That’s one. If you’re not ready or you feel like you’re not there, you know more than they do.
The other thing is you need to include your child in these conversations. If you’re not talking about money, talk about all the other things. If you’re not talking about it, then they’re not learning about it or if they’re learning about it, they’re learning about bits and pieces, misinformation, and disinformation. They’re not getting the whole picture.
I often say, “The parents in our kids’ lives, they’re the children’s best teachers.” It’s not just parents. It’s all the adults in our lives. If you’ve got a niece or a nephew, you feel like this child isn’t getting the information. I’ve seen it so many times. Let’s say you’ve got a niece or nephew out there. You’re invested in debt and you’re taking on notes.
That is something you can teach not just to your children. You can teach that to any child and say, “This is how I make my money. This is what I’m doing. This is another option for you.” I’ve seen it a lot with the early financial FIRE movement. A lot of people don’t even realize that’s an option and you could talk to children about that.
I met Dan Sheeks at FinCon. I’ve known him previous to FinCon, but I got to meet him in person and his book is spectacular. It is a phenomenal book to introduce the concept of early financial independence to teens. Teens can pick up this concept. They can understand this, but if we’re not introducing it, we’re doing these kids a disservice.
You’re right. The banks might not be giving them all the information they need. Let’s be honest. The banks aren’t supposed to be our children’s educators. They’re not. That’s not their role. Their role is a profit motive. I get that. I can’t fault a bank for that. When I was little, I remember the two businesses I wanted to start the most were a bank and an insurance company. I was like, “If I can make those things happen for me, I’ll be set.” From an early age like my early teens, I was like, “Those two businesses, if I can make that happen, I’m good.”
Those companies aren’t meant to educate us. That’s a side part of what they do. Some more banks are taking it on and I appreciate that. There are banks that have started making financial literacy part of what they do. Let’s be honest. It’s not ever going to be the core of what they do. It’s going to be something maybe they add on to as a service to their customers, but it’s not their core.
Hopefully, we’re getting that at schools. As you said, we’re not yet. Some schools are taking it on. Some schools are bringing it in, but it has to be the adults in our children’s lives that bring it to them because we have their best interest in mind. I believe we do so we have to bring it to them and start giving them all the pieces.
When I grew up, I learned about earning. I told you, I could make $1. That was never a problem for me and I knew putting that in the bank, interest rates were high. That money was making money. In my mind, that was investing. It is and it isn’t. For me, at that age, it was but I didn’t have the rest of the pieces of the puzzle. That’s what I want to encourage other adults to do. Give those other pieces, learn it yourself, grow with your kids, and do what you have to.
The one thing I say especially for parents who are a little reluctant to talk about this is there are so many benefits. I can go on for hours on the benefits of talking about money with your kids. One of the things I try to tug on those heartstrings a bit and say is, “What’s the legacy you want to leave behind? What do you want your child to inherit from you?” It’s not a lack of understanding. It’s an eagerness to understand, know and grow.
It’s not just about having more money in the bank because that could be a self-serving and selfish way. When we start talking more about wealth and about being appreciative of what we have, that’s when you could start building and start saying, “It’s not that I just want to have more money. It’s not that I want to have more freedom. I want to have more flexibility and be able to do what I want to do.” Wealth is how you do what you want to do.
If you have money in the bank, then you could start saying, “This job I don’t like. Trash it. I’m going to go do this other thing that actually brings me joy.” That’s what we want to do for our kids. We want to give them those opportunities. If we’re not talking about it, then we’re kneecapping them. I didn’t mean bad terms, but we’re not giving them everything we want to give them. That’s why we need to talk about it. It needs to be part of our conversations with our kids.
I totally love that. Let’s talk about that a little bit. Not everybody quits their job to be a stay-at-home dad. Let’s talk about the steps that you took to get to that point. I think a lot of folks would love to stay at home with their kids and teach them, not be forced to because of COVID. Let’s talk about that process because as a business consultant, that’s a bit of a dramatic 180-degree turn on that, right?
It wasn’t an easy move for me. To be very honest, there were a few things. One, my wife and I always wanted to have a parent at home. We were both working and fairly successful in our careers, but we knew when we had kids, that was something we wanted. We started talking about that pretty much maybe even before we started having kids. We’d always talked about having a parent at home. Me being a bit more entrepreneurial than my wife, I always knew it would be me. I had a couple of advantages. One, I’m a project planner and financial planning is what I do.
We talked about it beforehand to figure out, “What do we need to have it in place? Where do we need to be financially? Can we make this work?” I was also able to do it stepwise that I took a leave of absence before I had to say goodbye to my job. That’s the benefit that I had. I know not a lot of people have that, but I’m very privileged and very lucky to have had that. I could do a trial run before I said, “This is the thing for sure.”
With all that said, there are sacrifices. We’re not living a lavish lifestyle over here. That’s also part of growing that wealth. If you’re spending every dollar you make, no matter how much money you’re making, whether you’re at $100,000, $200,000 or $500,000, you’re not going to build that wealth or those opportunities. You’re not setting yourself up for that financial independence that I think almost everyone wants.
When I say financial independence, however you define it. That could mean retirement early or working less. That could mean working the same amount, just feeling comfortable. Financial independence is a term that you get to define in your terms and your way. When we decided that it was what we wanted as a family, we started putting those steps in place. We made sure we were spending less than we were making, and the emergency fund was built up.
We started looking for sources of income that were not trading time for money. That’s another key. A lot of folks don’t always recognize that you don’t necessarily need to trade your time for money. There are other ways to earn money like investing, real estate or debt. There are so many different things, but you got to educate yourself on them before you could jump into them.
One of the things is we made it so that we’d have some rental income coming in. We’ve got some income that doesn’t replace what I was making, but it subsidizes us. We cut back on a lot of what we’re doing so that brought the expenses down. It’s tricky. It gets the challenges. We have two kids who are getting into more extracurricular things. They wanted to do more things. They could only wear their clothes for about a week before they grow out of them.
There are challenges. It’s a lot easier to say, “I’m going to try to hit FIRE early,” when you don’t have all of these other needs. Mind you, you could still do it with kids. It’s just you’re going to have to find where you want to make the sacrifice. It needs that early sacrifice for long-term benefits. It’s worth it but it requires some planning and some diligence.
I say this with the caveat that I am not perfect. I am not exactly where I want to be. I still make financial missteps. It’s important that I acknowledge, express, and share that because the last thing I want anyone to feel is this is an easy thing, “This person is doing it and they’ve got it all figured out. Why don’t I have it all figured out?” It’s not that.
That’s not my message at all, especially when I’m talking about parents and kids. It’s all about the journey. Getting there is what you’re trying to do, but you’re always working on it. You’re always refining and iterating. There are times when I’m like, “We are going to need to dip into that emergency fund. We’re going to have to dip into it heavily because we didn’t see something coming or it happens.”
I go back and I refund it. We get back on solid ground. We keep investing and trying to build for that future. It’s a journey. It requires you to keep going back and it happens. There are going to be times when you will fall off track. That’s just life. It’s important, especially from folks like yourself and myself to make it clear that we are still working it out ourselves. We might have a path. It’s great but the idea is you build some systems and you put them in place so that you have fewer opportunities to fall off the path.
The old adage of pay yourself first still works. You make it automatic. If that money is coming out, you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to think about it, then you’re not spending it. Putting systems in place helps. No one here is perfect and no one expects anyone to be perfect. It’s about acknowledging that you need to focus on your money.
That’s how I got myself into problems back in my twenties. I ignored what I was doing. It almost seems ridiculous in hindsight. How could you have fallen so far into debt without saying enough is enough? It’s because I chose not to. I chose to close my eyes, put the blinders on, and not make my finances a priority in my life, which is a mistake that I learned from and that I don’t do now.
In my mind, that’s how you go. You learn, you grow, and you build, but you need to be focused on wealth creation because that builds that flexibility in your life. You need to manage your money in a responsible way for yourself and whatever that means. It’s knowing what your priorities are. If you know your goal is this, then that’s what you’re working towards. If you’re spending your money that takes you away from that, is it really your priority?
It’s a long answer to your short question, but that’s how we made it work. We had to prioritize, plan, set targets, and set goals. Even with all that said, there were times when I’m like, “We’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing.” I talked to my wife and I was like, “We haven’t looked at our budget in a little while.” There’s always lifestyle creep that pops in. I’m like, “How many streaming services do we have right now? Do we need all those streaming services? Probably not.” Lifestyle creep happens when you get a little bit more access to money and you spend that money without thinking about it. Ideally, you’re going back, reassessing, reevaluating, and making the changes to get yourself to where you want to be.
It totally makes sense. The first is talking about it. Secondly, cutting back on expenses. Third, coming up with a budget, and then fourth, paying yourself first is such an important aspect of things. No matter what amount you can put away, but doing it first. That way, you’ve paid yourself first. You, being the investment, first and foremost, versus waiting until the end of the month and seeing what’s left over. We know there are always more months left over after we go over the budget in a lot of cases for most folks.
That’s why pay yourself first. We’ll always seem to figure out a way to take care of other things or spread things out. A lot of people struggle with it. Let’s talk about the conversations you have with kids. Besides talking with kids about it, what are some steps you can help your kids to start taking these lessons you’re teaching them and helping them apply them in real life?
The last thing you want to do is make this an extra thing. Parents are busy. They’ve got so many competing priorities. There’s no extra time. Just like there’s no extra money at the end of the month, there’s no extra time on a parent’s day. What I am trying to say is make those conversations that we’re talking about part of your everyday life. If you’re grocery shopping or you’re buying something online or what have you, bring your child into it.
The one thing I’m trying to encourage parents to do is to give their children opportunities to practice using money and building good money habits while they’re at home with you. Giving them those opportunities to pay themselves first, do some transactions, build some savings, invest if possible, and borrow money and pay those back if at all possible, but doing those things while they’re home with you.
For example, I’m very bullish on allowances. If you can afford it or it works in your family, allowance is a great tool to help you to give your child the opportunity to do some of these practices. They need access to money to practice a transaction, savings or be able to borrow money from you and then pay you back.
An allowance alone isn’t the only way you can do it. There are other ways of doing it. I encourage people with older children, allowance is great but a budget is better. Let’s say you have someone in high school, middle school or what have you, and you’ve already allotted X amount of money for lunch for them. Let them manage it and say, “This is how much money we’re going to spend for you on lunch this week or this month. You take it. You figured this out. See how this goes?”
Now they’re managing a budget. That’s an experience that a lot of kids don’t have until they’re off on their own. If they want to go and spend all of that on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and use the rest to buy some designer jeans, let them have at it. There’s so much that you can learn from that experience, but you have to give them that experience, autonomy, and agency to experience what it’s like to manage some money.
You might have to bail them out or maybe not, depending on how you want to run things, but giving them access to a budget to say, “Here’s your clothing budget. This is what we’re going to spend for you going back to school. You know what you need. You need these items.” It has to be in concert with conversations and discussions because you’re still there to coach and help them. By doing that, you’re giving them opportunities to practice. You’re giving them chances to use the money that they’ll have at one point.
At some point, they’re going to be off on their own. They’re going to have to figure this out anyways, so do it when they’re home. When a misstep won’t mean that they’re going to be homeless or their credit score has gone to the dogs, do it while they’re younger so they have you there as their financial coach and advisor, and they could figure this out.
That’s what I’m encouraging parents to do. As far as nuts and bolts, that’s one of the biggest pieces. I get into a lot of the different ways that you can do this in my book, but specifically, if you can give your child an opportunity to practice using money, whether it’s an allowance, a budget, or their first job, those are the chances to give your child practical experience and habit forms that will help them when they get older. That’s one of the things. Practice.
From our previous conversation, didn’t you create a game of some sort with your kids?
I’m working on it.
Talk about that.
I’m working on a tabletop game. When the kids were younger, there were some games out there right now like Monopoly and Game of Life. I’m still good with those. I think they’re still great. Playing games and telling stories are great ways. We’re all building a little restaurant or a grocery store in your bedroom. These are great ways to teach money. I’m sure almost everyone here has played Monopoly, especially someone who’s into buying and dealing with debt and buying notes.
We’re doing real-world Monopoly over here.
The difference between what you’re doing and the game Monopoly is to win in Monopoly, it’s a zero-sum game. For me to win, you need to lose. That’s not how I approach life. For me to win, you need to win. That’s how I feel it. I’m trying to make a game. While it might not necessarily be a cooperative game, it doesn’t have to have you lose for me to win. It’s still involving money and building good money habits.
I’m in the play-testing phase right now so I’m still working out some of the kinks. You’ll be one of the first to know when it’s all done. I’m trying to build a game that will give those money habits some real-world experience where you’re trying to grow your wealth, forming those habits, and being aware of what happens. The other thing is, as a child, you’re not always aware of all the different perspectives.
As we mentioned before, if your parents show you how they’ve earned income, it doesn’t give you the perspective of how everyone or how many different ways there are to earn an income. I’m trying to give your children some ways of seeing that but in a fun game way. I’m working on that right now. It’s a project I’m super excited about, but it’s still in the development phase.
Let’s talk about the book, Your Kids, Their Money. Obviously, we got some real-world lessons talking about our past and all the mistakes that we’ve made growing into the adults that we are now, and not being so hard on ourselves for making mistakes because everybody makes mistakes. That’s one of the most difficult things.
Many folks make a money mistake and they hold it over themselves for so long versus, “How do we fix it and how do we move on?” A lot of people listen to Clark Howard and then Dave Ramsey. Dave has got some good ideas and some philosophies. I don’t necessarily always agree with it. Talk about the book. What led you to it and what did you hope to accomplish with the book, Your Kids, Their Money?
I like how you mentioned the shame and anxiety that some folks can feel. I try to address that. It’s even in the intro of my book. I have multiple goals, but one of the goals that I set it out pretty early is I want people to let go of any shame and anxiety. Holding onto that gets you nowhere. It doesn’t help move you ahead. It helps to hold you in place and keep you down. I know when I was going through my money troubles, those were some of the darkest days of my life.
I felt like there was no sunshine. It felt terrible. Luckily for me, I’m a forever optimist. I knew that that was a point in my life and I was working hard to get out of it. I worked and paid, knowing that at some point, the pain of the debt would end and I would be able to grow. It’s so critical that we let go of those things and we use knowledge and wisdom. We met at FinCon. There are so many amazing creators out there now focused on helping people get their finances in order, whether it’s a financial coach, financial advisor, podcaster or Instagram. There are so many people out there.
I don’t care if you get it from me, from you, or from my book. Go out and find the person that resonates with you, and use what they’re teaching and what they’re telling you to let go of any of that shame and anxiety, and then start to grow. To answer your question more specifically, my book is written as a resource book. Also, you don’t have to read it from end to end. It’s written so you can jump in at any section. If your child is asking you about debt, insurance or taxes, you could jump into any one of those points.
I also try to include a lot of my stories. I tried to almost mirror the story of what I already talked about. I started off being very money hungry, going into debt. I’m at a point now where I’m very grateful for where I am, what I have, and who’s in my life. That’s one of the financial habits that I want you to instill in your children. It is acknowledging and being appreciative of what they have because there are always opportunities to want and get more. It’s only in having that practice of appreciation and being very grateful for what you already have that you can put a hedge on some of that consumer demand that needs to buy and have more.
The book is written as a resource guide. It’s written as a means of giving a parent the skills, the tools, and the language. Hopefully, it will also give them empathy so that they can let go of some of the things that they’re holding onto. I could talk for hours just about all the benefits that you will get from focusing on this with your child.
You get the benefits of building a stronger relationship with your child. You will gain the benefit of being more comfortable with your finances. The book is meant to be a resource for parents, but also for any adult who wants to have a better understanding of money or who wants to be able to talk about money with children, and who wants to know different ways of going about it.
I have the dos and don’ts of allowances in there. I even tell you how you might want to start an allowance practice. I talked about some of the other pieces that a lot of folks don’t talk about in financial literacy, especially with children. I talk about taxes, insurance, acquiring, protecting, and wealth. I talk about it all because I had a piece of the puzzle growing up. Had I had a little bit more of that puzzle, I might have been able to better hedge against some of the mistakes I made.
The book is an attempt to give you a chance to get that full puzzle and full piece of what it is that you should be thinking about with regard to your money, whether it be budgeting, saving or investing. When is a good time to borrow versus when might not be a good time to use some of that debt? It’s giving you some of the nuances there. I try to make it very practical.
At the end of every chapter, I talk about, “Here are some extra things you could do. Here are some things you can actually do with your child that could be fun and cement some of this learning.” It’s meant to be a resource guide. It’s written with a nice little story arc in there. There are all these little narratives. I’m a bit biased, but I love it. You nailed it at the beginning. My why is very much to help folks let go of some of that shame and anxiety, and use knowledge to guide them, not the shame or anxiety.
What are some of your best suggestions or tips for parents in helping their kids start investing or building those seeds? Are there things that they can do besides a lounge or other things that they can do to skip that ball rolling and start planting those seeds to change their mindset? Many kids come from a point of, “We’re guilty of it with all the mass media buy, the newest game, the newest gaming system, and the newest cell phone.” What are some things that parents can help change that perspective and get them on the right path to investing for the future?
There are two things. One, you need to talk to your kids about wealth. What it is and what it means. I’m not sure if you’ve read The Psychology of Money, but that is another spectacular book. He puts it best when he talks about how wealth is hidden. It’s not something you see on the outside. Especially if you’re not having these conversations with the children in your life, you may perceive fancy clothing, jewelry or a new car as wealth. That’s not wealth. That’s money spent. Money spent is not wealth. Money not spent is the creation of wealth.
It’s critical that parents talk about that and show that. What could happen too is because wealth is hidden, you might be doing a spectacular job building up your nest egg, but your child won’t see that. Your child can’t see that unless you bring them into the inner circle of your finances. They won’t know that, and then they may start to proceed that wealth is on the outside. I was talking to a financial planner and she was saying how she had a client who left a huge nest egg for their child. They blew through it so quickly because they didn’t understand, “This is something that you could live off of if you understand wealth, how it works, how interest can compound, etc.”
Talking about wealth is so important. You need to be doing that. The second piece, and it goes back to the paying yourself first comments that we had earlier, is that’s a challenge for a child. Let’s be honest. Telling a kid to save up money, saving up for something makes sense. Saving up for saving’s sake makes less sense. It’s critical that we give kids a reason to save beyond just for saving’s sake. It’s going to build that habit.
I spoke with another financial planner. Her words and her concept were as spectacular. I loved it. She encourages them to build an opportunity fund. An opportunity fund is when you’ve saved up your money for your big ticket item, but you don’t spend all of it. You keep saving a little bit more so that there’s money there. There’s an opportunity fund. Let’s say your friends come and say, “I want to go to the amusement park. Do you want to come with us?” If you spend all your money on that big ticket item, there’s no money to go to the amusement park or the movies or to do all these fun opportunities that are going to come your way.
I talk to kids about the opportunity fund. Instead of saving all your money and then blowing all your money on that big ticket item, which is easy for kids to do. It’s easy for me to do. The critical piece is to make sure that you’re keeping some of it behind in case of an emergency. For us, it might be in case of an emergency, but for a child, it’s in case of an opportunity. If they’re able to keep some behind, hopefully, at some point, you can make the switch from an opportunity to maybe an emergency fund to a retirement fund.
If you’re talking about wealth and saving, and you can combine the two, now we’re talking about investing. Now we know that earning a loan may not be enough for some families or some people to reach those financial independent goals. It’s only with the combination of investing, but it’s critical that you’re having these conversations with your kids.
If your kids have the wherewithal to have enough money, see if you can buy an investment with them. That could be anything. You could open up a brokerage account on your phone, buy the investment for them, and then that’s theirs when they turn 19, 21, or however old you want to do it. Also, you can open up a 529 and show them what you’re doing there.
One of the things we did for my nieces and nephew a while back was I got tired of giving them all of the Christmas gifts and birthday gifts that they forgot about after a week. It was broken, plastic, and ended up in landfills. My wife and I stopped giving them birthday and Christmas gifts, which was a bit of a push. I’ll have to admit. She wasn’t keen on that from the get-go. Eventually, I was able to convince my wife, “Let’s stop buying these gifts. Anytime we would’ve bought them a gift, we’re putting money into their 529.
Instead of giving them a gift for their birthday or Christmas, we’ll give them the investment statement so they can see what’s coming their way. I had a niece and a nephew who’s gone off to college now. We’re able to pay for a whole semester of college for my one nephew, plus a little bit and some of his books. I think he was able to buy a computer with some of that money. That felt so much better than those moments of fleeting joy that happened on Christmas Day.
That was another opportunity to show them. Over the course of time, we contributed to it regularly. It wasn’t a large sum of money, but it has built itself into a larger sum of money that can now be used for this big goal of yours, which is going off to college. There are different ways to do it. On the individual level, talking about it or showing them that they need to keep some of their money back. Show them what you’re doing. Showing them that you’ve got an investment account or an emergency account.
It’s critical that we bring them into that inner circle. A lot of parents are afraid to bring their kids into that because they’re worried that their business is going to be out on the street. By bringing them into those conversations and showing them that you trust them to share this information with them, that you’re building trust with them, you’re showing them that, “I’m willing to show you this.”
You can give them the caveats and say, “This is a conversation within our four walls here. This isn’t something I want you to talk about on the playground, but I want to show you this because this is something you need to know. You need to know what’s happening in my bank account because that affects you and me. This is something you’ll need to do one day too.” When it comes to investing, do it with them and show them what you’re doing. If you can, have them do it too.
One of the best things I think you can do is start an educational savings account, whether it’s to cover a 529 or an educational IRA that you can put up to $2,000 a year. They can be used for any of your kids. That’s $88 a month on average. I totally agree with some of the toys and stuff like that. I’ve got a nephew who loves to get cash because he wants to go buy stuff. His mom says, “You got all this cash. Here’s half and the other half, we’re putting into an account for you.”
He’s gotten to the point where he understands that because he sees the stuff. It’s a great way for everybody to do it. If the kid doesn’t end up doing stuff, you can use it for computers and other things that are associated with that as well. That’s a great way.
It’s a little bit each week or each day. $20 a week is $80 a month. That’s an almost maxed amount that you can save. You had the trial period where you took a leave from your job as a trial run for it. What’s the biggest thing you miss about being a stay-at-home dad? I know it’s a little different but I’m going to ask you the opposite in a second here.
What do I miss? I don’t know what I missed. That’s a great question. Give me the question again. I missed that.
What do you miss from being a stay-at-home dad? Did you have a little bit more time to yourself at the job or things like that? Did you miss the camaraderie? Are you like, “I don’t miss anything. I love where I’m at.” I’m just asking.
You got it.
How old are your kids again, Clifton?
Right now in 2022, my oldest is ten. My youngest is eight.
When you were that age, you said you had an interest in insurance, investing, and stuff like that. Who was your idol or who was your financial hero as a young kid? Was it Michael J. Fox? Back in the day when he played Alex Keaton. If you think about that, I know maybe not. Is there somebody that has been a financial hero for you besides your parents that helped maybe plant those seeds that you liked?
My parents for sure. My dad was one, but then it’s some of these authors. I’m trying to remember the name of this author. He wrote a financial literacy book that was spectacular. The name of the book is The Wealthy Barber. I’m a Canadian guy, so it is one of my favorites. I actually met the author, Dave Chilton. He’s a great guy. I called him up and he gave me a little congratulations on publishing my book.
When did you read that? Were you young, at 10 or 11?
I read that when I was younger. I read The Wealthy Barber and then also the one we were mentioning earlier, The Richest Man in Babylon. I picked up both of those books pretty early. I can’t say other than maybe pay yourself first. I don’t think I was heeding their wisdom as much as I should have. It was good. Their books are great. They’re still great books, but I know at that time, I would listen to them. I liked them, but I don’t think I took advantage of the wisdom that they were providing me.
Let’s talk about The Richest Man in Babylon. It’s a great book to read. You are doing something with it. Share a little bit about what you got in the plans with that book.
The Richest Man In Babylon is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a classic. It came out in 1926 which means it’s a great book that came out, but it’s a little bit dated. I was trying to read the book to my son in 2021. He’s about ten years old. The book doesn’t make sense to him anymore. The language of the author who wrote something in 1926 just doesn’t work anymore, but the story itself is still spectacular.
With my son, I decided I was going to try to rewrite it. I’m working on a revision of that book that has a lot more plain language. That’s part of it. It has a much better story that’s easier for someone to read, and also has a little bit more inclusivity. One of the things is that the original version was all men. One of the things I wanted to do is I wanted to make this book a lot more inclusive and I wanted the book to read a lot easier. That’s another spectacular book. The stories are great and I’m super excited about that.
When that comes out, we’re going to have you back on and talk a little bit about that.
I’d be excited too for sure.
What’s the best way for our audience out there to connect with you or follow up on what you’re doing, Clifton? How can our audience be of service to you out there?
I’d love to connect with anyone out there. You could reach me at CliftonCorbin.com. That’s the easiest way to find me. You could find me on Instagram as well. I’m @YourKidsTheirMoney on Instagram. You could find me on LinkedIn. I’m everywhere. If you’re looking for me, my website is usually the easiest one, but I’m happy to email you or connect with you if you’re curious.
Guys, go check it out. CliftonCorbin.com is the website, but go grab a copy of the book, Your Kids, Their Money. As we’re rolling into the fourth quarter here of 2022, it could be a great stocking stuffer. It could be a great gift to somebody who’s got a kid’s, birthday present. It’s one of the most important things to think about. If you are financially educated, you understand it, and you’ve got family members who aren’t, I believe it’s up to you to help maybe start those conversations.
Finance money talks can be intimidating, but if you approach it from this aspect, “I’m here to help. Let’s start off on the right path and share some good habits with you,” this is a great book to make it an easy transition and conversation for the family and people that you love in your life that you want to see come out more financially fit. Clifton, thank you so much for coming to the show. It’s been insightful. We look forward to having you on our future episode.
Scott, thanks so much for having me. I wanted to take a quick moment to thank you for what you’re doing. I told you my why. I could tell your why is very similar to mine. You’re educating. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re spending the time to make sure that people are getting themselves to where they want to be. That’s no small deed that you’re doing and I wanted to make sure I thank you for that. Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. It’s been great.
Thanks for coming on. We’ll be in contact some more. We’ve got some synergy going together. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for you.
I appreciate it.
Thank you. That’s going to be a wrap-up for this episode. The book is Your Kids, Their Money. You can get it at Amazon or check out and connect with Clifton directly at CliftonCorbin.com. Go out, take some action, and we’ll see you at the top.
- Your Kids, Their Money
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Dan Sheeks
- The Psychology of Money
- The Wealthy Barber
- The Richest Man in Babylon
- @YourKidsTheirMoney – Instagram
- LinkedIn – Clifton Corbin
About Clifton D. Corbin
Clifton D. Corbin, MBA, PMP, was a business consultant with over two decades of experience when he left the office to become a full-time stay-at-home dad. He has also authored his first book, Your Kids, Their Money, which focuses on providing parents with the skills and tools to teach financial literacy to their children.
Your Kids, Their Money is the clear and simple guide you need to help teach financial literacy to your children. Applicable for kids of all ages, this guide is an investment you will want to make in building a solid foundation for your children’s future.
Want to talk to Scott? Book a call with him HERE
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