As I watched the Cardinals go 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and hand game 5 of the World Series to the Rangers last night (not that I’m mad about it or anything!), I saw a pretty awesome commercial. It showed how a father created a Gmail account for his daughter and sent emails to this account as a way to chronicle her childhood.

The idea is that one day he will give her the account and she’ll have years full of memories. Here’s the commercial if you haven’t seen it:

It got me thinking; what would I send to my theoretical future child? Sure there would be pictures and home movies, but what else? Here’s what I’d do:

Financial Advice for My Future Kids

cute baby

photo credit: flickr.com/paparutzi/

Make More than You Spend - It’s pretty simple. Make more money than you’re spending and you’re gonna be alright. Maybe we are talking about getting a $5 weekly allowance and spending just $4 on baseball cards and bubble gum. Or maybe we’re talking about making $100k a year and spending $90k as an adult. The principle doesn’t change.

Always Pay Your Bets and Debts – My mother taught me early in life that I need to pay up when I lose a bet. It was so hard to give Joseph Carmichael $1 back then, but that moment ingrained a fundamental principle into my soul — people deserve what they earn. Whether you lose a bet or take out a loan, you made a promise to pay and need to live up to your word.

Losing Money isn’t the End of the World - When I was a kid, I know I physically lost a few dollars (I misplaced a lot of things as a kid). It SUCKED! But when it happened, my mom didn’t reimburse me for my carelessness. I had to deal with the consequences, and I learned that life goes on. That lesson has helped me accept investment losses as an adult and not get so emotionally attached to money.

Make Saving Money a Habit – I will strongly encourage my kids to put a portion of whatever money they get (allowance, birthdays, babysitting, etc) into a savings account. I’ll also let them use that account when they really want to buy something. They should understand early that saving up for something and paying cash is the best way to buy anything.

Dad’s Money is not Your Money – I can’t stand when children expect things (aside from food and shelter) from their parents. It can create an entitlement mentality that can be very hard to overcome as an adult. My kids will know that they get what they earn; not what they want.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Working With Your Hands – I will not even pretend to know what the higher education landscape will be in the next 18+ years, so I have no idea what will change between now and then. I do know that I will NOT raise my children to think they must go to college to be successful. If my kid wants to be a carpenter, then he can be a damn good one and make a damn good living. I’d be just as proud of my kid the plumber as I would be of my kid the lawyer. Contrary to what most kids are told, not everyone is made for college.

Do You Have Advice For My Future Kids?

I’d like to think I have all the answers, but I’m smart enough to know I don’t. Whether it be financial advice or anything else: what would you tell my kids?