Money Success Dreams Do Not Have to Be Scary

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Money Success Dreams Do Not Have to Be Scary

You know what my REAL dream of personal finance is?

It’s that my children grow up to avoid all the emotional trips and traps around money that ensnared their mother.

This came to me when I read sister dreamer Remy’s comment on my post about leaving a personal finance legacy.

She said, in part: “The Emotion called money is a very tricky and challenging thing to teach, because all decisions are made emotionally, and backed up by “logic” — so my job is to teach my son the right ‘emotions’ to have about money, even if that means trying to have no emotions at ALL.”

Amen to that, and, conveniently my son, O Psychic One strikes again. The other day he accompanied me to the grocery store and we went through self check-out. As we walked out with our purchases, he said, “Money is scary.”

“Why do you say so?” I asked.

“Because you think you’re going to buy just a few things and it shouldn’t be too expensive, and then it is. I thought we had about $20 of groceries here, but you just paid $48 for that. It’s scary.”

Amen to that, too.

I had to think carefully before responding. What did I want to teach in this moment?

I decided that I wanted to teach that recognizing the connection between money and emotion is an important task of growing self-awareness.

That calling the emotion by name and talking about it rather than bottling it up is either a mark of sweet innocence or a sign of preternatural maturity, and maybe a little of both.

That as long as we can talk about money and emotions, we are a little better armed against making bad decisions.

So, good on you, O Psychic One. We had a great conversation about needs vs. wants, and immediate gratification vs. delayed gratification, and experiencing the joy of life now but still planning for the future.

We resolved, with some haggling, that soda is a want and water is a need.

We resolved that if you worked really hard one summer and earned $5000, you could put away $3500 and still have $1500 – a HUGE amount of money – for fun.

We even resolved that $1500 was probably too much fun to leave to chance, and if you’re going to have that much to spend you better have a plan.

For my part, what I learned is that I can actually start talking to my children about money. As I said in my last post, this is not something my parents did with me, at least not directly. They talked to each other, loudly, and I overheard. But I’m not sure I really learned anything useful from it.

So I don’t really have a model for how to do it. Or at least I didn’t until this conversation with O Psychic One. He showed me that talking about it is pretty much a matter of dropping the filters, opening your mouth, and saying what’s on your mind.

The icing on the cake is that if I’m going to use my own behavior as a teaching model, it will probably shore up my best intentions in my moments of weakness. To have to talk to my children about the choices I’ve made…now THAT’s motivation.

I’m wondering, World of Dreamers…what’s your real dream of personal finance mastery? Leave a comment below.



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  • Nice posts! great content! will read more soon!

  • I love this, “I decided that I wanted to teach that recognizing the connection between money and emotion is an important task of growing self-awareness.” Wow.

    If you get that into a course sign me up!


  • My son is working for the first time this year and will have over 1000 in the bank by the time he starts school. He’s already purchased a few things that he ‘wanted’ and now wonders what will do with the rest. it will be a great conversation! thanks! Rem

  • The need vs. want conversation has evolved over the years with my now 161/2 year old. His own venture brings a percentage of sales. The trick is to have him hang onto it to place the next order!

    My own personal finance mastery has been achieved from a budget standpoint. It was really painful getting there but our personal finances were reduced by over 40% over the last 2 years.

    Thanks for the insight – H