5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Family Finances


The “Friday Five” features five items to help you in your journey to financial freedom. They might be 5 tips, 5 tricks, or just 5 ideas. In any case it’s Friday, so here we go!


My parents never talked to my me or my Sister about our finances. To be fair, my Dad really didn’t talk to us about much of anything at all other than how terrible the Seahawks were (this was the early to mid 80s, and they were stupidly awful), his fleet of semi trucks, or the chores we still hadn’t done.

I’ll retract that statement almost immediately, because my Dad did talk to us about money. Here’s how it went:

“Hang on to that Sports Illustrated with Michael Jordan on the cover. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hang on to that Bo Jackson rookie football card. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hold on to that Coke bottle telephone. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

You know what my Dad never held on to?


I’m not bagging on my Dad at all. My Dad started a business at the age of 18, built it up and sold it in his 40s, then parlayed that into a business that grew in value in the millions before losing it all due to circumstances FAR beyond his control.

Now in his late 60s, my Dad owns several small businesses in my hometown and is a staple of his community.

That doesn’t mean he was necessarily good with money.

As a kid I never knew how we were doing financially. I saw my parents buying lots of things; spots cars, satellite dishes, pools, ATVs, etc., but I never really knew if we had money in savings, or if all of that junk was purchased on credit and we were teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

It’s understandable why they didn’t share any of this information with their kids. Their parents survived The Great Depression, and was a generation that tried to forget about finances in general, not discuss them openly. They sure as hell didn’t share with their kids during that generation, and so my parents never felt the need to be super open with us.

When our finances took a dump on our collective heads in January, my wife and I decided that we would start talking to our kids about finances. We did this not to freak them out or add stress to their lives, but because we wanted to start teaching them to be financially responsible so that they can hopefully avoid our mistakes and live a financially independent life of their own one day.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to approach kids when it comes to discussing finances, especially if you’re in a bad way. Here are some of our favorites:Read More »

Tuesday Tip Jar: Get Your Kids Excited About Investing


Welcome to another “Tuesday Tip Jar” where I will share awesome savings and financial tips as I find them. I might not have something for you every Tuesday, but when I do, you’ll find it here!

If you’ve got a financial tip you think others would benefit from, please send it to me via my contact page at the top of the blog!


My Dad spent every penny he earned.  If he earned 10 bucks, he spent 10 bucks. If he earned 1,000, he spent 1,000. If he earned 10,000…

You get the idea.

My in-laws are similar. They didn’t put any money into savings for most of their adult life, and struggled to make ends meet for many years.

So my wife and I were raised with that mindset, and thus spent many years ignoring savings, living for the moment, and in general being pretty silly with our income. The result is a mountain of debt, this blog, and a promise to ourselves that we will break this cycle with our kids.

My kids don’t get allowance. We’ve always been of the mindset that their allowance comes in the form of friends staying over and eating our food, them going to movies, us renting movies at home, vacations, and all of that sort of stuff. They do chores, but we explain to them that it’s all just part of being in this family, and working alongside mom and dad to keep things in order.

What we have done extensively however is helped them to hustle. They sell things in yard sales, on Facebook, or via side ventures, and they make a fair amount of money that way. My son just recently self-funded the purchase of a iPhone (a generation or two old), and some AirPods. Hell even I don’t have AirPods!

The agreement we have made with them however is when it comes to saving and investing. Our formula for them works like this:Read More »

Save the Children, Or At Least Teach Them To Save

You don’t have to spend every dime you make, and if you invest wisely enough you won’t have to worry later in life about making every dime that you want to spend.

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,793.15
Total Paid Off: $16,517.62
Income Going to Savings: 1%

I was probably a spoiled kid.

Both my Mother and Father grew up with next to nothing. They lived humble lives in very rural environments, and they learned to work hard and make their own way in this world.

I was born into modest settings as well. Not long after birth, my father bought a piece of dirt and put a double-wide trailer on it. He had just started a trucking business, and took out two loans to pay for a new home for his family.

Hold up for a second…

There is the making of a really good country song in that paragraph. You’ve got trucks, a double-wide, and dirt. If I can figure out a way to retroactively add a rodeo in there, Garth Brooks has his new smash hit!


In my early years, we didn’t have much. However by the time I hit around 11 or 12 years of age, my Dad was making a pretty good living, and our quality of life improved dramatically. I had more junk than the average kid, and if there was something I asked my parents for, I usually had it in a relatively short amount of time.

You can call that spoiled for sure, but I truly believe that because both of my parents had very little growing up, they decided that their kids would never know that feeling of wanting something you couldn’t have. This is a totally understandable frame of mind given their childhoods and while it’s an incredibly wonderful position to be in when you’re a kid, what they didn’t realize by giving us everything they wanted is that they weren’t ever allowing us to get a taste of the struggle that they went through.

If I wanted a new toy (I was a big Transformers nerd), my parents didn’t say, “Well then save your money up and go buy your little Optavius Prime Rib then!” Instead they just bought it for me. As a teenager I didn’t have to save for my own car, instead they just bought me one. I didn’t have to pay insurance for it either. Hell, I didn’t even have to pay for my own gas!

Now let’s just record scratch this blog post for one second and make something very clear: I’m not for one moment blaming my current financial situation on the fact that my parents treated me awesome as a kid! I had it really well, and I totally get that.

My point is that I spent a good portion of my young life being trained that if I wanted a thing, I got that thing… and usually right away.

So now I move out on my own, and I get married, and guess what? It turns out all of those things cost money when you don’t have parents to give them to you!

Not only did I have to pay for all of the fun things, but I actually had to pay for really lame stuff too like electricity and food. OH AND GET THIS… I had to actually pay for the GAS IN MY CAR!

The reality of this set in, and I couldn’t cope. I still wanted to have fun stuff and I wanted to have it now. So I started taking out credit cards, and lots of them. I didn’t actually save for anything, but instead just took out high-interest loans and bought the stuff I wanted instantly. It was really easy!

We know that old Garth Brooks smash hit. I won’t sing it again… for now.

So as part of this journey out of debt, my wife and I have decided to help educate our children on what we’re learning as well. This means that my kids will be opening savings accounts, and that we’re actually going to ask them to save for things they want.

As an example, my son recently decided that he “needs” a cell phone. With our cell plan, we get a third line for free and can get a heavy discount on a phone. So we told him that if he saves for the phone, he can use the third line. He’s now putting money aside and meticulously tracking it so that he can purchase the phone.

I’ve also told him that a portion of the money he saves must go into a separate savings account or he can use it (with my help) to purchase some shares in companies when he saves enough. The point is that this percentage doesn’t get used for things like phones or other “necessities.”

My daughter is a bit younger and isn’t on the hunt for anything quite as extravagant as a cell phone, but she’s saving money too and will also be buying some shares of her own.

I want to slowly but surely engrain in my children the importance of saving money. You don’t have to spend every dime you make, and if you invest wisely enough you won’t have to worry later in life about making every dime that you want to spend.

Fellow parents, please keep this in mind as you raise your kids. Just because you can buy them lots of stuff doesn’t mean you should.

The Happiest Place on Earth

My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because, “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.”

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,303.52
Total Paid Off: $17,007.25
Income Going to Savings: 1%

Do you want to know what the absolute worst part about being in this financial situation is?

Let me rephrase…

Do you want to know the worst part about being a parent in this financial situation is?

Before I tell you, let me give you some backstory.

My wife and I got married at a very young age. I was 20, and she was 21. Of course that didn’t stop my grandma from asking my wife at our wedding, “Why’d you wait so long to get married?”

It also didn’t stop my Dad and his friends from sharing a jug of moonshine in the reception parking lot but that’s a story for a very different time.

As is the case with small towns, people in my hometown got married very young and had children almost immediately. My wife and I had lots of friends who either already had children or were expecting their first. We had a lot of catching up to do.

I don’t have to go into any graphic details since I’m pretty sure we all know how this whole baby thing works, but needless to say we got started right away. A month went by and we weren’t pregnant. (Lame!) Then another. (Oh come on!) And another. (Uh oh…) Months eventually turned into years. We saw several doctors and specialists, but my wife had some medical complications that resulted in a very low chance that we would ever (to borrow a friend’s phrase) “slip one past the goalie.”

It was difficult for me because I love kids, but it was absolutely soul crushing for my wife. At the top of her list of life goals was to be a mom. When we were in serious doubt that it would ever happen she used to say, “I’m not even going to be greedy and ask for 6 like I used to want. I just want 1. Can we please just have 1?”

This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to say, “AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED.”

It wasn’t really a miracle though. It was just that I got hired for a really great job, and they had really great insurance, and we were able to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

So that was great. What wasn’t great was seeing what my wife had to go through. If you’ve never been a part of the process or don’t know someone who has, let me just tell you that if I had so much as a shred of doubt that my wife wanted to be a mom more than anything else in the entire world, that shred was wiped clean the moment I saw the needles.

Sweet maple syrup there was a sh*tload of needles.

She had to poke needles in her stomach several times a day, she had to poke needles in her back hip (or I did) several times a day. Once she was at her sister’s wedding in Maui trying to give herself the shot in the stomach when she dropped the needle and stuck it in her foot! Fun Fact: The foot wound up having a health 7 pound baby toe, and they named him Randy. Everyone is very happy.

The point is that she went through so much for so long…


We got pregnant! 16 years of trying, and we finally did it! We had a healthy baby boy, Sebastian, who is now 11 years old.


I’m sitting in my office at work a year or so after my son’s birth, and my wife calls to say she doesn’t think we’ll do IVF again. I said, “Because of the needles?” and she replied, “Because I’m pregnant!” That was our awesome daughter, Lily, who is 8 years old now.

So to say we went through a tough go of it to get our two amazing kids is an understatement. As a result of our journey to being parents, we quietly committed to making sure we never took our blessings for granted and did everything we could to make sure our kids knew just how much we love them. We tell them several times a day, every single day.

So aside from lots of hugs, and tons of smooches, reading books to them every night, coaching their sports, volunteering at their school, attending every recital and science fair, and everything else we could think to do, we also took them to Disneyland.

My wife and I LOVE Disneyland. It’s really mostly me, but she likes it a great deal as well. I’m an animation nerd, and a massive Disney fan. My office walls are lined with Disney figurines and Pixar figurines and movie posters for animated films, and all sorts off awesome things I have accumulated over the years.

For our honeymoon and 1st anniversary we even went to Disneyland. Yes of course you could make a case that we should have used that money to invest, and I get that. That’s not the point right now. The point right now is that you need to know how much we (I) love Disneyland.

So we took our kids on the most amazing trip ever. In the days leading up, I was almost jealous to know what they were about to get to experience for the very first time. My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.” He of course totally changed his tune after being in Disneyland for around 11 seconds.

They had a blast, but more importantly we as a family had a blast. My wife and I took every moment we could to enjoy that trip and consciously remind ourselves of all of those times we truly believed we would never have children, and here we were watching our two kids enjoy our favorite place on earth.

I’m wiping tears as I type this just thinking about that trip. Real talk.

So to go back to my original question: You want to know what the thing that makes me feel the absolute worst as a parent in this financial situation is?

Not being able to take my family back to Disneyland.

I fully comprehend that there are families out there that never get to go to Disneyland. There are families out there struggling to feed there kids. I get that. I feel fortunate that I have the memories that I do.

But Disneyland represented something very unique for me — It represented every moment of pain I saw my wife experience during the process with our son, it represented those 16 years of trying to conceive a child, and the 16 years of constant heartbreak that went along with it. It represented how much we hated not being able to make my Mom a Grandma for the first time, and the look on her face the day we told he she finally was one. It represented just how fortunate we felt to have those two amazing kids in our lives.

It’s selfish to feel this way, but hey… you asked the question!

Oh wait. I asked the question. My bad.

We will get back to Disneyland one day, and we won’t do it on a credit card. Even if we don’t make it back, we will hold those memories dearly and continue to be the absolute best parents we can be, because we know how close we came to never taking a trip like that.