I competed in Odyssey of the Mind in middle school, but I don’t remember much about it. I just remember loving it, traveling with the team, and working as fast as possible to solve interesting, complicated problems.
My parents were always active in our schools. Someone was always there at the meetings, performances, games, and seminars. There was nothing worse than being idle, they said, and they were happy to keep me engaged, focused, and busy.
I liked to save the money I earned to buy books at Half Price. Whenever they’d let me, I’d buy CDs and cassettes too.
A few months before Christmas we had a competition at another campus. Our coaches thought we’d look more uniform if we all wore our Odyssey of the Mind t-shirts, so we did. Everyone except me.
I hadn’t bought one because they were burnt orange and big. I was much too stylish.
My teammates, many who’d become close friends, felt sorry for me.
They all pitched in to buy me that big, ugly t-shirt. I still remember the big smiles on their faces as they presented it to me, like a Christmas present. Presented it with sincere consideration and embarrassment—for me, on behalf of my poor parents.
I smiled politely but tried to mask my anger. We weren’t poor. I’d used my money for what I’d wanted, and I just hadn’t wanted that shirt.
We need to have a conversation about money.
We need to talk about debt and credit, student loans, and interest rates. We need to talk about Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Dave Ramsey, and philanthropy. We need to talk about wealth inequality, welfare, the projects, and fundraising.
We need to talk about the 1%.
We need to talk about refinancing, consolidation, and Credit Karma. We need to talk about good debt and bad debt, compound interest, and unsubsidized loans.
We need to talk about Roth IRAs, 401Ks, and emergency savings accounts.
We need to talk about getting credit cards in your children’s names and ruining their credit.
We need to talk about investing, trading, mutual funds, and income-based repayment plans. We need to talk about Sallie Mae, Navient, for-profit colleges, and wage garnishment.
We need to talk about inflation, minimum wage, and the gender pay gap.
We need to talk about the sex industry, drug cartels, and the legalization of marijuana.
We need to have a conversation about money.
At lunch today, I stumbled across two articles.
THE FIRST: “Kylie Jenner Says She Plans to Pass Down $900 Million Cosmetics Company to Stormi.” On the Forbes cover, the text under her name reads: “At 21, she’s set to be the youngest-ever self-made billionaire.”
THE SECOND: The other article focused on the birth of Cardi B’s daughter, Kulture Kiari. It talked briefly about Cardi’s husband, her career journey, her upbringing, and her work as a stripper in her late teens.
*There’s more that I’d like to say here about fame, social media, privacy, wealth, financial literacy, privilege, and status. I’ll save that for another day.
Should you talk to your children about Kylie Jenner, wealth, and Cardi B?
I don’t have children of my own.
I like to ask these questions (of myself) because I work with children.
I like to ask these questions (of you) because I care about how your children view (and will eventually change) the world.
I’m curious about how we’d engage with each other if we knew each other’s perspectives.
- Should billionaires (or millionaires) exist? Why or why not?
- Is it right (morally, ethically, etc.) to be a billionaire?
- Is it right to aspire to be a billionaire (i.e. rich)?
- What does it mean to be self-made?
- Is it fair to say that Kylie Jenner is a self-made woman?
- Should the sex industry exist?
- How do you feel about the sex industry as a viable means of earning a living wage?
- Cardi B has mentioned that she turned to stripping because she felt limited by the lack of employment options. At the same time, she feels that this experience shaped her life in positive ways and set her on a better path. How do you feel about stripping?
- To what extent should fame, popularity, or status determine our economic opportunities or financial success?
- To what extent should ability or disability affect our financial success?
- To what extent should intellect?
- To what extent should talent?
- Should STEM graduates earn more than non-STEM graduates?
- How do you feel about money?
- How do you feel about wealth?
- Do you feel the same way about money as you do about wealth? If so, why? If not, why not?
- What do you wish you knew about money when you were younger?
- What do you want to know about money now?
- What will you teach your children about wealth and money?
- What were you taught about wealth and money when you were younger?
Should you talk to your children about Kylie Jenner and Cardi B?
I hope you’ll stay. I hope you’ll join me.