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Want your teens to understand the value of money? Then read this book!

Happy Ever After: Financial Freedom Isn’t A Fairy Tale by The Seven Dollar Millionaire

Originally written for his teenage daughter as a parting gift before she went to university, The Seven Dollar Millionaire focuses on understanding money, saving and investing, making it the perfect book to buy for children to help build financial literacy.

Although the original Seven Dollar Millionaire had worked in finance for more than 20 years, selling billion-dollar deals and managing the assets of some of the world’s smartest investors, the concept was born when his teenage daughter asked him a question he didn’t know the answer to: “What’s the smallest amount of money you can save and invest every day to become a millionaire in your lifetime?”

  • Only 41% of 16 to 17-year-olds could read a payslip correctly and 18% could not identify the correct balance from a bank statement – Fincap.
  • There is evidence that 16 to 17-year-olds are not necessarily financially prepared for adulthood – Fincap.
  • While parents recognise the importance of teaching children about money, many are not confident in doing so and have low financial capability scores themselves – Fincap.

Perfect for anyone who hopes to make their future financially brighter than their present, and to help their own children avoid mistakes they made, Happy Ever After has a playful tone, featuring a spoiled princess and talking frog, hand-illustrated to help explain some of the trickier ideas that can be life-changing.

The Seven Dollar Millionaire explains the background to the book:

“There’s a wonderful but frightening statistic about the amount of time parents spend with their children. I first discovered it on the website waitbutwhy.com, but as is the way with spreadsheet geeks, I went away and recalculated it myself.

If you have a child when you’re 30 years old (I did) and you expect to live to 70 years old (fingers crossed), when they leave home at around 20, you will likely have spent 93% of the time you are ever going to spend with them. It’s a brutal realisation: you may only have 7% of your time left together.

Now if you have kids younger and expect to live longer, it could be a little better, but the assumptions above are already pretty generous: that somehow or other, after college and through the rest of your lives, you see your kids for a whole month of every year. If it’s less, maybe a couple of weeks, then you’ll have less time left – maybe 5%.

I discovered this when my oldest daughter was 17-years-old, and a year away from heading to college, overseas, so there would be no weekend visits to use the washing machine, raid the fridge etc. She may choose to stay overseas, work, marry… I didn’t know, but this might be it.

It gave me two different feelings, both urgent. One, obviously, drink in every minute. Make the most of any occasion she hasn’t chosen to go out and meet friends, or needs to study. Feel blessed that she’s making fun of me being old to my face rather than not being there.

Two, make sure I teach her everything I can that she needs to know before embarking on the rest of her life – and the most obvious gap was money. Superficially,  this was easy. She knew nothing about money, and I have been a finance professional for more 20 years.

Less superficially, this was hard. Do I want to spend the last few months, maybe a year, drawing up spreadsheets, talking about return rates, watching her yawn out of the corner of my eye and not know whether to give up or keep plodding on, wasting these last few moments by boring her stupid?

‘I wrote her a financial fairytale, something that could be a little bit knowing, a little bit sarcastic to fit her late-teens attitude’

I had to find a way to do it, though. If I didn’t, I felt as though I might be worrying about typical empty-nesting, while never having given her the benefit of even a cursory flying lesson.

So instead of spreadsheets, I wrote her a book, getting up early every morning to think about all the stuff I wanted to tell her. More precisely, I wrote her a financial fairytale, something that could be a little bit knowing, a little bit sarcastic to fit her late-teens attitude.

It allowed it to start where all fairytales should begin, right at the very beginning, with the basics: what money really is, and how to think about it. We were then able to get into meatier topics, like saving and investing, how to control spending – and even how you can build up assets so that you never need to work again. “Happy Ever After” we called that – the concept and the book.

She even came up with the killer question that led to my pseudonym: “What’s the smallest amount of money I need to save every day to become a millionaire?” I didn’t know. I googled it, and google didn’t know. So I got out the spreadsheet again, and calculated it. Seven dollars (or pounds, or euros) a day, saved and invested to get 7% returns, and she would be a millionaire by 70. It would also become my nickname, and the name I write under.”

Main pic: @gachisvision

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Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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