The Opposite of Spoiled

The Opposite of Spoiled

Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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In the spirit of Wendy Mogel's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's Nurture Shock, New York Times "Your Money" columnist Ron Lieber delivers a taboo-shattering manifesto that explains how talking openly to children about money can help parents raise modest, patient, grounded young adults who are financially wise beyond their years.

For Ron Lieber, a personal finance columnist and father, good parenting means talking about money with our kids. Children are hyper-aware of money, and they have scores of questions about its nuances. But when parents shy away from the topic, they lose a tremendous opportunity--not just to model the basic financial behaviors that are increasingly important for young adults but also to imprint lessons about what the family truly values.

Written in a warm, accessible voice, grounded in real-world experience and stories from families with a range of incomes, The Opposite of Spoiled is both a practical guidebook and a values-based philosophy. The foundation of the book is a detailed blueprint for the best ways to handle the basics: the tooth fairy, allowance, chores, charity, saving, birthdays, holidays, cell phones, checking accounts, clothing, cars, part-time jobs, and college tuition. It identifies a set of traits and virtues that embody the opposite of spoiled, and shares how to embrace the topic of money to help parents raise kids who are more generous and less materialistic.

But The Opposite of Spoiled is also a promise to our kids that we will make them better with money than we are. It is for all of the parents who know that honest conversations about money with their curious children can help them become more patient and prudent, but who don't know how and when to start.

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ?2015
ISBN: 9780062247018
Branch Call Number: 332.024 LIE
Characteristics: xii, 240 pages


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haklh Sep 26, 2018

I was pleased and relieved to have found this book because it sounded like it would address the exactly problem I was mulling over - how to teach children to be sensible with money, and not be too materialistic.

I did enjoy the book, which contained many anecdotes and tips from families the author had interviewed over many years. Much of the advice was enlightening; some of it challenged my current thinking (such as detaching pocket money from doing chores) but Ron Lieber's arguments are logical and persuasive.

This book is very much aimed at well-off, earnest professional families; the issues discussed here are very much "First World Problems". So while it aims to minimise any arrogance or sense of entitlement arising from living privileged lives, the earnestness can feel quite cringey at times. Or perhaps I am just feeling jealous and inadequate because I haven't thought of those great ideas myself. My only other criticism is that some of the situations/advice can appear quite geo-specific, for example, money worries surrounding college tuition, 401k, and health insurance is not such a big deal in my country (even though inequality is growing).

Overall, an enjoyable and thought-provoking read, a welcome addition to the range of topics discussed within the Parenting genre. I will be sharing this with my pre-teen children.

Jul 10, 2017

Good information and strategies to use with children to help them navigate money issues. Recommend this read to parents for ideas.

Jun 25, 2015

The central piece of advice from Ron Lieber's The Opposite of Spoiled is one I intend to try out on my own kids: Introduce an allowance early on, in incremental amounts, and then maintain it independent of routine chores. In other words, I'm not planning to use it to bribe them to do everyday household tasks. Some won't agree and that's fine. I think there's wiggle room here in order to best teach kids about money while they have limited means to earn their own. The part about allowing kids to spend their own fun money on (almost) whatever they want is one of the best ideas in the book. I'm eager to see how that principle works in reality.

The rest of the book is take-it-or-leave-it. You will notice throughout that, whether the author sees it this way or not, his target audience is the upper middle class family. Mr. Lieber is at least aware of this charge because he shares an exchange he had with a woman from a lower income family who described his plan as "a conceit of the rich." I see her point, but there's still plenty of useful information to borrow.

ksoles Mar 05, 2015

How much money do you make? Can I have an allowance? Can we buy that homeless man an apartment? At a young age, children begin to wonder about basic finances but how should parents address this subject with their kids? In his book, "The Opposite of Spoiled," Ron Lieber, author of the NYT column "Your Money," attributes parental silence about financial topics to our fear of raising spoiled children. He argues that this silence leaves youths unprepared for the realities of adult life and neglects the values of generosity and patience that responsibly handling money can teach.

Thus, Lieber offers advice for parents on the economics of the tooth fairy, charitable giving and saving for college. He consults specialists, compiles tips from families and constantly emphasizes the importance of involving children in decision-making. Don’t tie allowance to chores, he says. Don’t skip over TV ads. Don’t hesitate to give your child a $100 debit card on your weeklong trip to Disney to teach priorities amid limited resources.

This book does not reach a universal audience. To his credit, Lieber openly pegs his readership as those families with $75,000 of annual income or higher noting that, in doing so, he excludes three-quarters of American households. "The Opposite of Spoiled" does not seek to change inequality but to raise financially savvy kids within it. It may go overboard in its lesson on helping children practice making 401k contributions but his bottom lines ring true: have conversations, take an interest in your child's opinion, tell the truth and remember that family time is the most precious resource.

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