The Wisest Investment – Review and Giveaway
If you are like most Canadians, you believe that responsible money management probably needs to start early in life at home.
This makes your kids in many respects The Wisest Investment.
Why do I say that?
Well, speaking from personal experience, financial literacy is an important life skill.
Continual research shows that most parents feel it’s their responsibility to teach their kids about money management, and maybe rightly so. The problem and challenges then become, are parents well equipped to do this? Do they have the requisite time, knowledge, and tools to be successful?
For so many parents, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Even if parents have adequate time to work with their kids on money management topics, including leading by behaviour, many parents do not know how to approach various financial subjects given the rate at which the industry continues to evolve. All parents want to help their children be successful, but success is really a never-ending pursuit as a parent.
I had the great fortune of having parents that taught me a few financial basics early, but I feel equally important to me and my journey, was they encouraged me to learn on my own. And so, I did….and continue to do so.
My money management principles at a young age centred around these concepts:
- Savings (for near-term expenses)
- Investing (for the long-term gains)
Maybe your journey was similar?
When I recently got a chance to review Robin Taub’s new book The Wisest Investment, I reflected on those similar money buckets I was taught many years ago, and how it shaped my path to adulthood.
In The Wisest Investment – Teaching Your Kids to be Responsible, Independent and Money-Smart for Life, Robin Taub (CPA, CA) shares the 11 healthy habits of financial management and takes readers through a practical roadmap for teaching about earning, saving, spending, sharing and investing by various age groups. This systematic playbook provides parents a handy discussion guide for conversations to have with their children – in a way that doesn’t overwhelm nor complicate many financial matters.
Robin was kind to reach out to yours truly and offer up two (2) copies of The Wisest Investment to giveaway.
Here is our Q&A about her book and much more, including what inspires Robin about many things today.
Robin, a pleasure to have you back on the site – been some time since we collaborated on a few tax answers to some My Own Advisor reader questions, specifically, why getting a fat tax refund is really not so great! (Link for readers)
Thanks for having me back, Mark. It’s hard to believe that tax article was written almost 5 years ago! I hope you’ve been well, especially these last 18 months or so during the pandemic.
Thanks Robin. All things considered, doing very well thanks!
You know, before the saving, spending and more principles by-the-age, your book highlighted some important habits of healthy financial management that many adults could benefit from. Can you talk about some of those habits and why they are the foundation of any family money plan?
I believe that every one of the eleven healthy habits of financial management are important, but I’ll highlight three. The first healthy habit, knowing where you stand financially (e.g., calculating your net worth and monthly/annual cash flow) is where it all begins. How can you plan where you want to go without knowing where you’re starting from?
Next, I want to highlight two healthy habits that have become even more salient over the last 18 months because of the pandemic. Habit #5, setting up a financial safety net, which includes an emergency fund and adequate insurance and habit #11, having up-to-date wills and powers of attorney. Unfortunately, this pandemic took the world by surprise and not everyone was prepared financially.
Indeed. It’s been a wild ride.
Robin, I liked how this book is laid out – there is roadmap for younger children (ages 5-8), preteens, teenagers and then emerging adults, with some important discussion points for each cohort. It seems like these might be easy conversations, but I suspect they are not in some cases, some could be like “the talk”! How do you suggest parents introduce these subject if they aren’t quite ready themselves potentially? Any tips for parents to practice their skills in advance?
You’re right, Mark, some parents may be more comfortable talking to their kids about sex than money!
But I encourage parents not to make money a taboo topic at home. A recent study by PISA (the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment) found that teens who talked with their parents about finances – even just once a week – scored 33 points higher on a test of financial skills than those who didn’t.
Many parents are afraid they’re going to get uncomfortable questions like “are we rich?”, “how much money do you make?” or “how much is our mortgage?”.
Here are some tips for handling those conversations:
- Try to be honest and stress confidentiality
- You can take about general concepts rather, than getting into specific numbers, such as:
- The meaning of “rich”
- The importance of income i.e., not that it has to be a certain amount, but that it’s enough to provide a stable life
- How mortgages work
- Keep your child’s age, maturity and temperament in mind
I read Chapter 5 (Teaching Emerging Adults) with great interest since although I’m well past those young adult years (i.e., getting older Robin!), the memories of going off to university, working during the summers, spending some money (but also getting into the habit of saving for school and starting to invest as a young 20-something) remain vivid. Can you comment on where your kids “are now” in their financial journey and did anything surprise you about their decisions or paths to date?
My son Justin is 26 and my daughter Natalie is 24. They graduated from Queen’s in 2017 and Western in 2018, respectively.
Accounting runs in our family: my husband, brother and father-in-law are all CPAs! So, it’s not surprising that one of our kids, Natalie, followed in our footsteps and obtained her CPA designation. She works as an associate in M&A and Capital Markets at BDO, an accounting firm. She is currently pursuing her CFA designation.
Justin did a degree in philosophy and political science. Currently, he’s bartending and serving at an event space in the Distillery district while also playing bass guitar in a local Toronto band. And he recently did some canvassing for the federal election. In the last year, Justin did the Rule1 Investing workshop run by Phil Town in order to improve his investing knowledge and skills.
Finally, Robin, I sense you wrote this book partly from a place of gratitude. You are very fortunate to have a healthy, happy family although I can appreciate every family goes through ups and downs. The last year or so has been tough on many families – financially, emotionally, and more. If you have a few pieces of advice to share with parents as they continue to navigate this challenging time of adaptation – what might that be for our post-pandemic world per se?
The last 18 months have been very challenging for parents of school-aged children who’ve had to balance, work, “Zoom school” and householder responsibilities. With most kids in Canada back in school this fall in person, hopefully this has eased a bit.
Financial literacy is now being taught in school in every province and territory. Sometimes it’s integrated into the curriculum (e.g., in math) and sometimes it’s a s module of a course like Careers. But parents still have a really important role to play.
So, as we continue to navigate the “new normal” I encourage parents not to wait too long to have the “money talk”. Ask what your kids are learning about money in school. Surveys have shown that children whose parents talk to them about money have an advantage: they feel more confident and optimistic about their financial futures and better prepared for the decisions they’ll face. Start early and lay the foundation. And let your kids make mistakes when the stakes are low.
Speaking of mistakes, we all make them. You don’t have to be perfect yourselves to teach your kids about money. It’s what we learn from our mistakes, and what we do differently as a result, that matters.
Great stuff Robin and a pleasure to chat with you again. Thanks for the books for My Own Advisor readers!
Folks, as parents and their children navigate a complex, post-pandemic world whereby everything seems to tie back to personal financial literacy as a foundation for help and guidance, I believe Robin’s book The Wisest Investment can provide another set of guiding principles to help parents support their children’s financial future.
Thanks to Robin, I’m going to be giving away two (2) copies of The Wisest Investment for you to win!
Robin will also be following the comments section on this site during the giveaway, answering any reader questions as they come in….
If you want to get in touch with Robin directly about any financial topic or see when she might be available for any speaking engagements, I encourage you to contact her at robintaub.com. You can also follow Robin on the Twitter machine regularly like I do at @robintaub.
Thanks everyone and good luck with this new giveaway! Winners will get their copies via postal mail in time for the holidays 🙂
Hi Mark & Robin
Thank you for your responses.
@Robin – I heard your interview on the Rational Reminder podcast. If I recall correctly, you mentioned allowance should be a choice based on family values and I agree with this. In our household, the value is an emphasis on intrinsic over extrinsic motivation. The kids still do “work” that is appropriate for their role within the household, but we’re not tying a dollar value to it. Chores are a part of their responsibilities as a member of the household. We get mixed results, but money doesn’t necessarily change results (as any employer can attest). I will consider the idea of cash for extra chores beyond their normal responsibilities.
So you understand our rationale, the reason we give allowance is to open a conversation on money management. With our oldest child she learned spending lessons quickly, moved to savings, and now she’s keen to invest for the long term. When the time was right I opened an investment account for her under my name (she’s still too young to have one) with $1K she had saved. We parked it in some index funds last year, which are now up 50% (fortunate timing). Seeing the difference in savings versus index fund investing has made her keen to continue the process. Our youngest child has just started receiving allowance and is clearly in her spending phase. Time will tell how the money management lessons go for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if some adjustments are required to ensure she gets the concepts. Kids are individuals, so flexibility is required ensure they internalize the message their way.
So what have I learned? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter if you earn allowance through chores. The same lessons can be learned by giving kids some cash and using this as the starting point for talks on money management. Now I don’t think allowance would be as valuable a teaching tool without the money talks, but the same applies with or without chores. Handing kids cash with or without work attached doesn’t show them how to manage money. In general our culture models consumption, so with no other guidance many kids will follow this default and my goal is to help my kids avoid this pitfall.
Interesting dialogue and conversation Greg and Robin.
Makes me think back to the days when I was younger – work around the house was largely tied to my contributions to the family – it wasn’t a given I would get an allowance just because I helped around the house. It wasn’t a 1:1 relationship.
That means money was not the sole driver nor expectation from work.
I really need to work on their money skills(11,9,7) because before you know it they will be in post secondary. That’s where big money troubles can begin, especially with the credit cards that are available to them. I know they will make mistakes along the way but I would like to limit the damage. This book sounds like a perfect start. Thank you Robin for your help with such a difficult and overwhelming parenting task.
Great stuff Mike. Good luck to you!
You’re most welcome and I’m happy to hear you’re already thinking of preparing your three kids for the post-secondary years, including all of those credit card offers they’ll see on campus!
By starting early, your kids can make the inevitable mistakes when the stakes are low – and learn from them.
This can feel like an overwhelming task but the book will help you tackle it – good luck with the giveaway!
Sounds like a fantastic book that covers a wide range of ages. Just getting the conversation started about money is hopefully how we can break down the stigma of a “taboo” topic. Looking forward to reading and sharing this book! Thanks for the giveaway.
Great stuff Sabrina. Thanks for your readership and good luck!
You got it, Sabrina! I’m that money will no longer be a taboo topic at home, once parents are equipped with the information to share at every age and stage. Good luck with the giveaway!
Couldn’t agree more about the importance of this! I’ve tried to ensure our kids understand the importance of saving and keeping debt down. Fortunately, through RESPs and kids working during summers, they were all able to graduate debt-free from university (an important goal we had). Now, we’re trying to help them in this crazing housing market. But our financial assistance has always been offered as a “match” program (even for school). You save X$ and we’ll match up to a certain amount. I feel this is really important so that they have “skin in the game”. In fact, that helped my one son purchase his first condo (and avoid CMHC fees). It has also encouraged my other two kids to save for theirs now. Thanks again for sharing.
Oh I remember working summers MikeyP!
Now I just work year-round 🙂
I think if you can afford to help your kids, in this housing market, go for it. However, that’s only if you can afford it. I know as GenX here, I got $0 downpayment help and $0 money for investing in my RRSP 20+ years ago. Times have changed for sure…
I don’t see renting as any waste of money these days whatsoever. Housing is also an expense – taxes, insurance, utilities, up-keep. Home ownership is first and foremost and expense and lifestyle choice. Just me? 🙂
Thanks for your readership.
I hear you Mark re: the rent vs buy decision. I’ve also explained that to my kids – ie. that renting should not be considered “throwing away your money”. However, buying – if you can manage a 20% down payment + another 10-15K or so for expenses – can also be a great investment. We do the math however to ensure they don’t feel “house-poor” – you definitely need to make sure you have enough left over every month to continue saving + live your life the way you want to.
Well put Mikey. That downpayment makes a huge difference in house-poor vs. affordability.
The rent vs. own and the budgeting that goes around that decision is a huge topic for adult kids (including my own).
No doubt. Not an easy decision. Very much a lifestyle choice as well!
Congratulations on reaching that impressive goal of your kids graduating debt-free from university – amazing! You are an excellent financial role model and teacher!
I agree that matching their savings, whether for a toy or video game when they’re younger, to paying for uni or college up to saving for a home, really motivates your kids to save and is a very effective strategy. They have to have skin in the game.
Thanks Robin! And yes – I’ve always been a big believer of “skin in the game”. I hear too many horror stories of parents who keep footing the bill whatever their kid wants to do – eg. for a kid who changes university multiple times and has no end goal in sight. Kids can’t assume an endless money supply from the Bank of Mom and Pops!
Good stuff MikeyP!
Yes, I hear these stories too.
The goal is money-smart kids with a sense of purpose, not a sense of entitlement.
Well said 🙂
This book has perfect timing. My oldest (11) recently started asking some tough questions so I can use all the help I can get! 😀
Great stuff Ivan – good luck!
Thanks Ivan, you’ll find lots of ideas for talking to your 11 year old and your younger kids.
This book will be really useful now I am trying to pass the lessons I have learned financially to our children. As first-generation immigrates, we never learn these from our parents and we didn’t pay enough attention early on. If we did, we should have been ready to retire much earlier. Hopefully our kids can avoid some mistakes we have made.
No doubt you’ve already shared a great deal of knowledge May, but the messages that Robin shared in her book are good and important too!
Hi May, that’s it exactly – trying to help our kids avoid some of the mistakes we made. Not everything has to be learned the hard way.
Having an effective communication with kids can be tough – I look forward to pick up some tips from the author to have a smooth experience on this front.
Great stuff Ye – thanks for entering another giveaway 🙂
Thanks Ye, the book contains lots of ideas and topics to discuss with kids of all ages.
As a Financial Literacy teacher to Grade 12 students, this book would be so helpful to me in helping prepare my students for financial decisions about planning, saving, giving, investing and spending.
Nice to hear Neil. I’m sure Robin will appreciate that!
I do appreciate that Neil (and Mark!) and I agree that the ideas in the book can be easily turned into classroom lessons. Focus on chapters 4 and 5. Thanks!
There is a roadmap for younger children, that is great! The more that I’m starting to work, the more I realize that I wish I started saving and investing since kindergarten or something like that. The money talk is more important than the the Talk.
Nice to hear from you David, yes, Robin might agree with you on The Talk.
Haha both are important talks to have with your kids (money and sex) and it’s not one and done. Keep talking about it. And yes, one of the best things to teach our kids is to invest early and often!
Thank you Mark and Robin for this great interview.
My kids are now 20 and 18 and both in universities and we always had an open conversation about everything and money and finance was one of them , I had my fair share of financial mistakes when I was young but also I had my first mortgage at 19 which it turned out to be a success later in life now that we own three properties , so I always stressed the importance of education in order to get a well paid job later in life as well as to manage your money well and I do believe try to balance your budget as a young person is very important since i don’t excpect every 19 yo to take a mortgage but I sure hope that part of their earning they’ll put toward saving/investing.
I opened a questrade account for both kids about 4 years ago and I matched their saved money from birthdays and side jobs etc…and put it all in index funds for them and it paid off handsomely , now my son have his own tfsa with his own investment and also have some crypto investment that did incredilby well but he couldn’t convince me to join 🙂
so yeah i feel like parents have a very important role even sometime more then schools and universities.
It was a pleasure to have Robin back on the site Gus. Been many years since we talked in person but I’ve reached out over the years for Robin to share her expertise on this site and she is always willing to do so. It was only natural to do a giveaway with her.
Good luck on the giveaway Gus!
I’m delighted to be back on the blog, thx Mark!
Congratulations on doing so many great things financially for your kids, Gus! Mine are in their twenties and we did many of the things you described like index fund portfolios, TFSAs and now, crypto! Keep up the great work and continue learning from each other.
Wish we saw more of this knowledge being shared in our high schools – students often feel that the only way to be successful in life is to be an “A student” and thus feel like failures if this is not the case. Learning about financial literacy, and different ways to amass wealth would go a long way in re-engaging students. Thank you for sharing this great resource.
Like you Karen, had zero financial education in my high school – there was math – but nothing on the personal finance nature. All largely self-taught here hence the blog name. Alas, even if some students get Robin’s book or similar teachings I feel they will be far better off. Knowing the basics is critical, early on.
I loved learning the origins of the blog name – very clever!
Ha. Thanks. 🙂
You raise such a good point. In some ways, schools emphasize the wrong things. “Hitting the marking key” is no guarantee of success in life. Many college drop-outs are famously hugely successful entrepreneurs.
Fin lit in schools has been evolving and is now being taught across Canada in various ways and in different grades (each province and territory is different.) Check out this post and infographic we created on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/robin-taub-cpa-ca-1a516528/detail/recent-activity/shares/.
Good luck with the giveaway!
Thanks for sharing this engaging interview. Looking forward to reading the book.
I’m a dad of a young family 4,2 and one more on the way.
How young is too young to start teaching kids about saving / small allowance (1 loonier per week etc) to put in their piggy bank or even perhaps open a savings account at our credit union?
Great questions and exactly the subjects that Robin shares in her book. She actually has some money talks by the age to consider. I hope you win! Thanks for reading Joel!
If they’re going to put the money in their mouth, they’re probably too young haha!
Most kids are ready at around age 5. Take your cues from your kids: if they’re asking questions or expressing curiosity at age 4, then it’s time to start. Your bank or credit union can tell you at what age you can open their first youth account.
Your kids may enjoy the multi-slotted piggy bank. You can find a link to it on my website under other valuable resources (money savvy pig) https://robintaub.com/resources/
I second Greg’s question.
Was about to post a similar question but will let his speak for both of us…
Sounds good Kevin – getting through my comments now 🙂
I hope I answered your question too, with my comments to Joel above.
Hi Robin & Mark,
Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions on this topic! I’ve been attempting to educate my kids in financial matters for a number of years now. One of my tactics has been allowance. I use this as starting point for conversation around money matters. At age 12, I give each of them a set amount every month and raise it every year. This will go until they reach post secondary at which point RESP draw-downs will kick in and provide more “allowance” than I’m willing to give each month.
My question is how do you feel about allowance in general, and also allowance without a connection to choirs? I do not attach work to allowance, but I know others think differently. If you feel strongly one way or the other, please provide the evidence you use to support your recommendation. I think we all have some biases, but I have more interest in empirical evidence over intuition.
Greg, I’ll speak from experience without kids, from parents that gave me an allowance as a youngster – only to a certain age 🙂
I know Robin will likely respond to this in the coming days too and could have a totally different take!
From me: I think allowances are fine, but they are given as a tradeoff for any chore, work, obligation, other. Free money is not a good idea. I was taught I needed some work for income at a younger age. I didn’t have a blog in the early 80s, so I delivered newspapers. Those old things. At age 12 no less – when my parents told me I needed to get my SIN # and maybe “get some money to do some things”. So, from age 12 onwards, I have worked. Up until age 12, I also got paid $2 per week for doing some chores around the house a few times per week. However, after my paperwork route started, the allowance disappeared.
Looking back, 35 years ago now, the lesson to work to earn some income, the responsibility for a 12-year-old to collect and monitor that income, acquring the skills to save some of that income (for gifting, other) but also to spend it on 12-year-old things that I enjoyed were teachable moments that I took into adulthood. Food for thought!
Thanks for your response Mark. I’ll wait for Robin’s thoughts before I comment.
Recently, I met two 12-year-old girls who started an Etsy boutique selling beaded bracelets and donating half of their proceeds to Sick Kids Hospital. Those lessons you learned at their age are still relevant today. I posted about them on Instagram!
That’s impressive stuff by them!!
Allowance is an important teaching tool as you point out. It gives our kids hands-on experience managing money, choosing how to save, spend, share or invest it. It allows them to make mistakes and learn from them. And it prepares them to manage money and budget when they’re older and on their own. Lots on that in the book.
In terms of connecting allowance to chores, all of the research I’ve done on this topic suggests that it’s a personal family decision. Some parents expect chores to be done out of a sense of family responsibility while others want their kids to “earn” their allowance.
My suggestion to families is a hybrid approach: a small but reasonable allowance to experience managing money and then an opportunity to earn by doing things around the house that go beyond basic responsibility (e.g. washing your parent’s car or working in the family business).
Older kids can get part-time jobs to supplement or replace allowance.
More research here: https://blog.aicpa.org/2019/10/how-a-kids-allowance-can-teach-money-management-skills.html#sthash.Md2eleJ3.dpbs