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443: Teaching Personal Finance to Your Kids

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My dad is a wise man. Like many teenagers, I didn’t always think he was. Growing up, he didn’t say much. He wasn’t the kind of dad who was keen to talk to me much about life. But when he did, I realized decades later, that he was usually right.

I remember my dad buying a lot of real estate when I was a kid. Most of the houses and small multifamily units he bought looked pretty ugly to me. So I asked him how he chose his buildings. “Cash flow”, he told me. 

I didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t really care but years later the words “cash flow” became serious buzzwords as Robert Kiyosaki released Rich Dad Poor Dad. And, as it turns out, cash flow is indeed the most important element when it comes to buying real estate.

Another time, I remember him asking me why I wanted to go to medical school. He said if I wanted to make money I should be doing real estate, not medicine. I was appalled that he would dissuade his own son from becoming a doctor. But in hindsight, I would also probably warn my kids against medical school as a path to financial prosperity in the future.

Finally, I remember during the late 90s, when I was in medical school in Chicago, Alan Greenspan raised interest rates rapidly. My dad had a lot of floating debt and ended up losing a lot of money. He told me to beware of floating debt. And of course, he couldn’t be more right about that one considering what has happened to the real estate markets throughout the country over the past two years. 

Looking back, I wish he had taught me more. But those were different times and parental relationships in immigrant families were quite different than the kind of relationship I have with my children today.

However, I think that it is still the case that most parents undervalue teaching their children about personal finance. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know much about it themselves. Maybe it’s just not that much fun to talk about.

Nevertheless, it is something that I think all of us parents should take a step back and consider what kind of financial education our children are getting at home and what we can do to help them be better equipped for the future.

My guest today took that message seriously enough that he wrote a book on personal finance with his own daughters. Make sure to tune in to this week’s Wealth Formula Podcast as Alpesh Parmar takes us down his own journey of educating his own children on money matters.