Those of you outside of Chicago may not be aware of the Pritzker family. They own the Hyatt hotel chain and are one of the richest families in the United States.
The Chicago Tribune had a very interesting article about one of the Pritzker children some years ago. At the time of the article, Liesel Pritzker was a high school student who was worth $160,000,000. That is not a typo, let me repeat it: one hundred and sixty friggin’ million dollars. Whoah! This isn’t even the most amazing part of the story though. She had a job working in food service. Here is her old boss talking about her:
“She was great,” says store owner Mitch Cobey. “She did anything I asked. She was on time. She was very intelligent. Of the students who’ve worked for me, she was one of the top two.”
Asked if it surprised him that a girl with $160 million wanted a job, Cobey is, for a second, uncharacteristically silent.
“I wasn’t aware that she had $160 million,” he says.
I love that last line!!! Can you picture the look on Mr. Cobey’s face? I can!
I have two young children and raising them to be good, financially responsible people is a topic near and dear to my heart. I will not claim that I have all of the answers, but do have some thoughts.
1) Kids want your attention more than anything. I’ve seen parents shower their children with all kinds of toys and other material stuff. Kids will tell you that they want that stuff, but they really want you. Sit down at the table and ask your child what her favorite part of school was today or play a board game as a family. Take them to the park and leave the iPhone in the car.
2) As soon as kids are old enough, its time to start learning about money. Our oldest is 6 years old. She has little chores she does around the house. In return, she gets an allowance which goes into 3 piggy banks; Pig #1 is for spending, Pig #2 is for saving and Pig #3 is for charity. Like all kids, she wants stuff. The conversation will usually go like this:
- Child: I want to buy this.
- Mom: Well, you have enough to buy it, but it costs $5. Do you remember what you had to do to earn that $5 and how long it took you to save?
- Child: Hmmmm, a long time.
- Mom: With that in mind, do you still want to buy it?
- Child: I think I’ll go home and think about it.
To be honest, I’m amazed that this works. I’m telling you though, it really does.
3) No handouts. Giving kids everything they want teaches them nothing. It’s just human nature; people appreciate things more when they have had to work for them. The best example of this that I can think of is teens and cars. I grew up in the not-so-nice part of town. I saved up and bought a Ford EXP for $1600. It smelled and was ugly, but I loved it. The EXP got washed every week and I took the best care of it I could. On the other side of the tracks, a friend’s parents bought him a new Camaro Z28. He beat the crap out of it. I didn’t know what a neutral drop was until I went for a ride in his car. I would have never done such a thing with my car.
Raising frugal kids is a continuous puzzle for me to solve – a constant battle. Even at 6, our child already has peer pressure! A neighborhood girl asked her how many American Girl dolls she had. Grrrrrr. (Note, she has zero American Girl dolls. They are super expensive, and their clothes cost more than MY clothes do.)
However, I do know that if Liesel ($160,000,000) Pritzker can have a job while she is in high school, my daughters can each have jobs too.
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