For many parents of Millenials, there were two topics which were simply verboten subject material for discussion with their progeny: money and sex.
This was certainly the case for both my husband and myself and the families in which we grew up. On the latter, none of our four parents spoke much at all, all the way up through our wedding day. We knew our parents expected abstinence until marriage; but that was about it (though we both heard and made decisions based being taught within a “purity culture” that existed within our churches, camps, and schools). Similarly, we were left in the dark on our parents’ finances; other than knowing that 1) you work hard to earn money and 2) usually, debt is bad. The specifics, though, were private matters, not open for parent-child discussion.
While we can hardly blame our parents for being a product of their time, lack of knowledge in both areas left us making poor choices, and it has taken us years to understand aspects and principles that could have allowed us to make much healthier choices as we entered adulthood and began our family.
During his years giving advice as a personal finance radio host, coach, and author, Dave Ramsey recounts that one of the most frequent comments he heard was, “I wish we’d heard this advice years ago!” Together with his daughter, Rachel Cruze, Ramsey had a vision to ensure that the next generation doesn’t have to say the same thing.
Dave Ramsey will leave it to others to tell parents how to talk to their kids about sex, but Smart Money, Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money is all about helping parents raise their children with knowledge and wisdom to handle money well. But it’s not just financial advice for children; many adults will find this to be a helpful survey of personal finance that will contribute to their own motivation and change, as well.
Like many others, I have definite concerns over Dave Ramsey’s often caustic tone, as well as his push that certain of his opinions are universal principles. Still, I am also aware that he has helped many people (generally those outside of genuine poverty) who need and information advice in the area of personal finance.
While I worked my way through the book and as Cruze and Ramsey presented examples and scenarios, I frequently found myself making mental note that certain solutions would not work for a number of different complex situations. I was glad to find that at the end of the book, Ramsey goes through multiple examples of applying his advice within alternative family dynamics (e.g., grandparents raising grandchildren, single parents, etc…) and complex situations where the authors also emphasize extending grace and avoiding legalism. (Their definitions of grace and legalism are certainly not theological definitions, though!)
Regardless of how you choose to teach or apply the advice the Ramsey and Cruze give here, I think this book is a strong motivator toward at least being more proactive in intentionally teaching children about managing their money. It’s important to note that he frequently sets an adversarially tone toward a parent-child relationship; but once those are noted, the advice can still be helpful.