Tag Archives: 5 year olds

The Kid You Left Behind

I simply love having money conversations.  They inspire me with even more learning about how our money stuff works.  During a podcast recording session with Michael Knouse of www.thestartupsessions.com I realized there was a piece of the idea of us all having five year olds running our money that I hadn’t actually blogged about…yet!  So here goes:

Let’s start off remembering about how you learned aboutkid money.  Oops, you didn’t actually learn about money, did you?  You learned about how people felt about money and most of them didn’t feel good about it.  You learned that it was taboo, verboten, simply not discussed.  And you learned that, well, even before you learned to talk. You noticed that this money thing was important.  Your folks dealt with it every day.   So you watched and came to conclusions, conclusions that never got revised or improved upon because nobody talked about it…nobody.

In many ways the story of money stalls out right there.  It’s why I say we all have 5 year olds running our money.  Only 1 person in 40 knows how much their parents actually made in dollars when they were young.  That translates to at most 2.5% of people talking to kids about money.  That’s a very small group.

So here you are, grownups with money knots.  Big gnarly ones.   You might have debt, you might have trouble asking for it, you may even feel like everyone else knows this stuff except you.  Most of all you are likely to have a sense of shame and failure.  Wow, what a mess.

Well, here’s the truth.  You left your 5 year old self hidden away handling your money.   You didn’t know you did that.  It never occurred to you.

For just a moment, picture yourself as a 5 year old.  Really bring that cute kid to mind.   Imagine yourself in your play clothes, with dirty hands and junk in your pockets.  Got it?  Well, that’s who has been handling your money.  Now notice the look on that little kid’s face as the subject of money comes up.

Wide eyed and bewildered? Scared? Serious? What do you see?

This is truly one of those things that we just never realize until we do.  You had no idea you were leaving your little kid self in charge of this big person issue – money.  It was taboo to talk about, even with yourself.

Want proof that you left this part of you in charge?  Just look at what you do with money. And look also at what you don’t do.  Do you avoid looking at it like the plague?  Do you spend with wild abandon?  Do you get angry with money?  Do you obsess about money?  Do you hoard money?  Do you waste money?  All those things, along with some other similar choices, are what little kids do when they are up against it.  Think about it.

Here’s the remarkable thing.  Your 5 year old self has been running your money all this time and for a 5 year old they’ve done a pretty good job!  You left them holding the bag, in charge of the money, and never really came back to help.  I think all our 5 year old selves deserve medals for selfless devotion to a task they weren’t trained or prepared for.

And you deserve a break for not even knowing it was going on.  How could you?  No one talked about it.

So now it’s time for you to make a couple of changes:

1.     Give your 5 year old a fun, easy job.  Playing with your dog, helping make cookies, etc.  No more money management for that part of you!

2.     Find a different part of you to take over this job.  Someone who is willing to exercise strategies like getting expert help, paying attention, and learning how it works.

You wouldn’t actually pick your 5 year old self to run your money, would you?  I also suggest you don’t pick your teenage self for the job, and I know there is a great you in there that would really benefit from getting clear on this money stuff.

Look at it this way: If your 5 year old did as well as they did, imagine what you could do now?

Maybe a first step is to listen to the podcast of Michael Knouse and myself chatting this?  He’ll be publishing our call this coming Monday, July 13th.  I’m actually Episode #81.  He’s been busy with all sorts of fascinating people.   Check it out! But not until the Monday!  http://www.thestartupsessions.com/81

Ka-ching

Shell