I had the sudden urge to know if, at 8, she knows what money is all about.
So I called my daughter, who was busy playing, and asked her: C, what is money? Eyebrows going up, eyes slightly questioning (as if saying, now where is mom going with this), she says, tongue in cheek, voice bored, “It has a lot of numbers and signs on it.” Okay (sounds about right). I made a follow up question: C, do you know how you can make lots of money? Grinning, she answered, her voice lilting and confident, “I can draw it.”
Obviously, I have to teach her about money. And soon.
Interestingly, when Robert Kiyosaki was 9, he had the same idea.
The year was 1950. Robert Kiyosaki sat down his Poor Dad for a heart to heart talk. “Dad, I finally figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life and what I want to be… I want to be rich.” Poor Dad said, “Okay…” Robert asked, “Dad, how do I become rich?” In my mind I could see Poor Dad shuffling his feet. He said, “What the rich know how to do is they know how to make money.” Robert said, “Good.”
So Robert persuaded a childhood friend, Michael (Rich Dad’s son), to go with him to collect empty Crest toothpaste tubes from their neighbors. In those days, the Crest tubes had lead. Their idea was to melt the lead tubes, take some plaster of Paris and put US coins in it to make exact replicas of the coins, the lead giving it a shiny silver look.
Poor Dad saw him and what he was doing and he had his first brush with the word “counterfeit”. After “the talk”, they had a good laugh but he knew, more than ever, that he wanted to make money but that he had to make it another way.
But the experience, the decision, lit up something inside of Kiyosaki, a hunger for money and hunger to understand money.
I look at this story and I tell myself: Now, how does one kindle that hunger in a kid? That is, an 8-year old, smart-aleck girl with rays of sunshine?
By chance, I stumbled upon one way.
I love the game Monopoly, the game of choice of Kiyosaki himself. When I found out that the iPhone has the Monopoly World application (higher stakes but same game), I downloaded all $4.99 of it without hesitation.
Now, my daughter loves my iPhone. I downloaded for her Diner Dash (buy this) and Buckingham Palace Hidden Mysteries (do not buy this). When she saw I had Monopoly, she challenged me to a game (yes, she has guts). Of course, I forced her to bankruptcy that first time (you see, I take my Monopoly very seriously). She has not forgotten (I hope she has forgiven).
I would see her – every single day, weeks after that defeat – playing the game. I happened to look over her shoulder one time and I was appalled to see that she has hesitated to buy a property. Worse, after I scoured over her inventory, I found out that she has not built houses when she should have! Mother being mother, I made some quiet suggestions. “But mom, I don’t want to lose my money. I want to have $20 Million!!!” Impressed at the goal setting but unsure about the logic behind it, I told her that being rich is not about who has the most money (or the most liquidity), but it is about the player who has the most assets – because his assets are where the rest of the players would land and pay rent. This player, the one with the most money machines (as Bo Sanchez calls them), will be one who will be the richest of them all. If she does not buy the properties, or hesitate on building on it, the other players would beat her to the punch and then her liquidity will not be of any help to her then.
All ears were now on mommy.
I told her that she had to buy the most expensive properties at all cost because he who has those properties (the ones to the right of “Go”) has the power to end the game. That people trade because they want something and she must be aware of that something so that she can use that knowledge to see if there is a win-win situation there (or if she has another proposal that would be more advantageous to both). That she can mortgage her properties if necessary; that she can initiate trades; that she has to keep moving; that she cannot be afraid.
I wondered, now unsure: Can she take it all in?
She played it again. This time, she forced her other playmates (all AIs – read: artificial intelligence) to submission, had her $20 Million, and in her delighted eyes danced something else – an understanding, a joy at that understanding, and hunger.
She still gets beaten from time to time, makes the wrong decisions, is subjected to the roll of the dice, suffers from panic attacks (during these times she would hand me the iPhone and will not want to have anything to do with it or with me), but I see that she learns, forms her own ideas about the game and how to play it, develops a passion, and forges a basic understanding between herself and money.
Next: testing those theories in real life.
Come to think of it, that painting of the fields above, that was hers. Maybe she was on to something when she said that she can “draw” money. Like her father, maybe she actually can.