5 Summer Investment Goals For Your Kids

Given that the first official day of Summer was yesterday, June 21st, we thought it would be appropriate to suggest a handful of financial and investment goals for your family to explore over the next thirteen weeks. We’re all busy, so I selected these because they’re short, sweet and effective. See if you can manage to tackle all five before September 22nd.

+1 to the Summer reading list

Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd is not the most gripping beach reading for the majority of budding investors, however we have a title that is more apt to grab attention. If You Can – How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly by William Bernstein is a much smoother way to build an investment foundation. Many of the concepts will seem obvious, but smart investing is often just about the fundamentals, common sense and discipline. (Estimated time: 48 pages, so, ~1 hour)

Track all expenses for just one week

Easy to say and hard to do. I’m a firm believer that you can control only what you measure, so measuring cash outflows is a natural step to getting where you want to go financially. Equip your child with a pen and paper and the challenge of tracking all spending for the week. Only by understanding how they spend money can they improve their savings habits. I remember saving up from my summer jobs to buy a red Fender Stratocaster when I was 14. I still have it. Savings can be applied to guitars, investments or both. Warren Buffett’s first rule is, “Reinvest the profits.” It can be your family’s, too. (Estimated time: 12 minutes per day for 7 days)

Pass along an investment story

Dramatic cautionary tales are much more interesting and memorable. If you can stomach telling a story about a time you lost money on options trading, lottery tickets, real estate or Enron stock, it’s more likely to stick. Since so much of investing is about managing the downside, you’ll be passing on valuable lessons. Charlie Collier, senior philanthropic advisor at Harvard for 25 yrs, says personal family stories are the best way to pass along financial values and insights. (Estimated time: ~30 minutes over a drink or meal)

Give them a decision to analyze

Buying a new family car? Planning a new vacation? Task your kids with a cost/value analysis. They can find online True Cost of Ownership calculators for cars. Google Flights paired with Hotels.com should tell them everything they need to know about the costs for most vacations. Once they’ve calculated cost, ask them if it’s good value and why. (Estimated time: 1 hour of research followed by a discussion)

Ask them about their advice

What advice would your kids give to their friends? They might say they would tell their friends not to spend so much on fast food or at the mall on “stuff.” Or they might say their peers at work don’t invest in 401ks because they still don’t trust the market post-2008. That’s how many of my coworkers felt when I joined Bloomberg full-time in 2010. If you ask your kids, they might reveal some unexpected and interesting nuggets for discussion. Everyone benefits. (Estimated time: 10 minutes)

Max Osbon – mosbon@osboncapital.com

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