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“The Opposite of Spoiled”: Starting the Money Conversation With Your Kids


“Kids these days are so spoiled”

How often do you hear those words, or say them yourself? For me, it’s quite often. I know that my own kids don’t hurt or want for anything, and neither do their friends. It seems we parents have extended ourselves and our budgets to the uppermost limits, just so our kids can “have it better than we did”. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your kids, the problem comes along when kids begin to expect–and even demand–the best of everything. 

This is what we’ve been experiencing in our home for a while now. I don’t really know how or when it happened, honestly it has probably been happening all along. My kids ask for something–a new pair of sneakers, cello lessons, a laptop, an after school Starbucks–and they pretty much get it. And lately I’ve been trying to reign that in a bit, but the damage seems to be done. I don’t really know where to start. 

How timely, then, that I was offered an advance copy of The Opposite of Spoiled by New York Times’ financial guru, Ron Lieber. 

In the book, Lieber explores a lot of the psychology behind why we indulge our kids–even when we can’t really afford it–as well as why the discussion of money is so taboo in many families. 

Lieber’s view that parents should disclose how much money they make has stirred up some controversy on social media lately. I can understand why many parents feel that is too much info to give a child, but Lieber makes a good case for full disclosure. He explains that kids need to see how expenses add up in comparison to income, and from that framework of candid honesty, we parents can grow resourceful, responsible, and grounded kids. 

The book touches on parenting issues such as chores and allowance, needs vs. wants, funding higher education, giving to others, and being thrifty. Rather than a step-by-step guide or a bunch of authoritative tips, Lieber draws on personal narratives from his friends’ and his own lives, which makes for a friendly and relateable read. 

What I really appreciated about this book is that it addressed some of the exact challenges my husband and I have with talking to our kids about money. This book has given me some great ideas for what to say when they ask the hard-hitting questions like, “are we rich?” “are we poor?” and “why can’t we have ____?” 

Also helpful was an outline of one way to handle allowances. Lieber admits that it’s not the only way, or the best way for every family, but it is an innovative idea that has a lot of validity. Since we’ve never done allowances, and my daughters are now at the age where they actually need “walking around money”, this chapter has come in particularly handy and we’re going to give Lieber’s idea a try.  

The premise of the book is “Raising kids who are grounded, generous, and smart about money”, and I think the author’s suggestions are spot-on. I definitely don’t want my kids to grow up spoiled and have a weird relationship with money when they are out there in the world! My husband is reading the book as I type this, so when he’s finished we will be creating a game plan together for our kids! 

I’d recommend this book as a great primer for any parent who is unsure how to begin the conversation about money with their kids. If you’re already pretty financially savvy and confident about money, you might still find some good insights though! 

The Opposite of Spoiled is available 2/3/2015 from the author’s website,


I was provided with an advance copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was made, and all text/opinions are my own.



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