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Posted on Sep 24, 2011

If I Only Knew Then

If I Only Knew Then

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As a Skype family therapist, my parenting clients stutter when I ask them “what will your chicks have under their wing when they fly from the nest? What tools will you have given them to lead meaningful, joyful, productive lives?” And when I ask myself those questions too, I stutter. I want to teach them so much, but there’s always soooo much to do. “One day’ I’ll get around to that, too. And if I don’t get around to it as I travel the world, when the hell will I?
I want to teach my kids lots of great things; but, you know, we’re developing an online business, creating this remarkable Clean Your Soul course, and….oh yeah, traveling the world. I also had really good excuses back home.

So, what wisdom will we bequeath unto our offspring? It was largely inspired by 72 hours of non-stop begging and whining in the streets of  New York. These were our very first exhausting moments of nomadic family life, and we knew we had a problem. Solution: “Here is your money for the week. Go buy whatever you want and leave me alone.”

Money Management.

Dear God, if someone would have given me any (any at all!) money management skills back then. If only I knew about money back then, what I know now. Maybe I would have understood that ‘a day at the mall’ is not high-quality entertainment; maybe I would have known that I don’t have to enthusiastically participate in every ‘sale’ that I happen upon; maybe I would have saved for the things that were really important in my life and not wasted it on jeans, restaurants, and closets jammed with crap I never needed in the first place. Maybe.

But, here we are, traveling the world; and here are our three children, wanting everything their eyes fall upon. We gave them $7 a week until we freaked out on them somewhere in the middle of Arizona while living in the RV. They were demanding their money and refusing to lift a finger to help with chores. We shot them down to $4 and realized we were raising self-centered brats who thought we owed them something. To make a long story short, we’ve joyfully been at $2 a week for months now. (Always give your kids a third of what you think you should. You can always go up later.)

We have a few requirements for weekly allowance, including accountability (log all transactions), maturity (don’t do it with a lot of whining over the math), and appreciation (minimal respect for your family and the gift of money you do receive). They’ve done all sorts of wonderful things along the way, which have pleased, surprised, and sometimes saddened us.

There was that time Solai gave Dahnya $12 for the bus fees on a journey she really wanted to join Kobi on. Or that time Solai’s $30 got sucked out of the hole in the RV floor and Dahnya rallied for everyone to pitch in to help her regain from her losses. And those harder times (for us parents) when a sibling really needed some financial help and the others turned away.

But what of all the times when the kids have treated the whole family for ice cream, bought gifts for each other, or have impressively saved for something that was important to them? When Orazi spent half of his money to buying Ever and his sister tickets to an event they could not afford to attend? And all those times they had the nerve to sell their art work around the globe?

In Israel, they sold crystals that they had dug out of the mountains near our home and went to the local market to sell their toys. On the road, Orazi took the acyclic paints my mom gave them and made art for sale. Once he came back with $22 from his first day of sales, the girls followed suit.

This has been a colorful, sometimes painful, yet marvelous journey into money management. As the world continues to teach our children (and us) about money; we’ll let you know. And if things get too sticky around here, we personally know the teacher of the Clean Your Soul class. We hear the course also helps with money matters!

Below are some pictures of some of their entrepreneurial endeavors.

In Israel

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In Houston

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In Boquete, Panama

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