The barefoot investor for families the only kids money guide youll ever need
No funny stuff, just money stuff The Barefoot Investor holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL no. 302081). This book outlines general advice only. It should not replace individual, independent, personal financial advice. Neither Scott Pape, the Barefoot Investor nor anyone associated with the making of this book has received any kickbacks, commissions or fees—or even so much as an invite to a corporate box at the footy—for recommending or mentioning anything contained herein. We never have, and we never will. We are fiercely independent. The bottom line: you’re reading the same advice that I’d give to my mum, God love her. Disclaimer The material in this publication is of the nature of general comment only, and does not represent professional advice. It is not intended to provide specific guidance for particular circumstances and it should not be relied on as the basis for any decision to take action or not take action on any matter which it covers. Readers should obtain professional advice where appropriate, before making any such decision. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the author and publisher disclaim all responsibility and liability to any person, arising directly or indirectly from any person taking or not taking action based on the information in this publication.
Dedication For every person who read my last book and said . . .
‘Why the hell wasn’t I taught this when I was a kid?’
Epigraph ‘Just make sure you don’t become a wanker . . . look after the battlers, son.’ —Don Pape
The Barefoot Investor Pledge For every ten copies of this book sold, one copy is donated to a parent in financial hardship.
Who is this book for? This book is written for parents (and grandparents, and anyone else who has kids in their lives). It’ll give you a proven plan to teach kids of all ages. By the time you read the last page you’ll know you have a plan that will work with your family. Whether your kid is currently listening to The Wiggles or Ed Sheeran, their life will never be the same. Let’s ROCK!
Contents Dedication Epigraph The Barefoot Investor Pledge Who is this book for? Picture this . . . Growing up Barefoot The day my life changed forever Our game plan Weekly Barefoot Money Meals
PART I: First Steps Three Jam Jars Three Jobs Three Minutes The Barefoot Money Meal
PART II: The Barefoot Ten Chapter 1: How to Protect Your Kids from Bank Robbers Chapter 2: The Family Treasure Hunt
Chapter 3: The Grandparents’ Dinner Party Chapter 4: Breaking the Brat Chapter 5: The Lazy $100 Challenge Chapter 6: Why Your Kids Need Plastic Surgery Chapter 7: The Magic of Flipping Burgers Chapter 8: Barefoot Betty Chapter 9: Uncle Scott’s $453 329 Gift Chapter 10: The Barefoot Ladder
PART III: Off and Running The Victory Dinner Your Legacy
The Final Goodbye Epilogue Will you help me? Index About the author Praise Also by Scott Pape Copyright
Picture this . . . You’ve spent the entire weekend helping your 18-year-old pack up their bedroom and box up their belongings. Finally the moment has arrived to say goodbye. You walk them to the front door and give them a hug. You’ve known this was coming for weeks, but your stomach is still in knots. It’s a pivotal moment in your lives. They jump in their car, reverse out of the driveway, give you a toot, toot, a wave, and then they’re . . . Gone. You close the door, walk into your eerily quiet lounge room, sit down and think to yourself: ‘Did I do enough to prepare them?’
Sweet Child O’ Mine Look, I don’t know you. And I don’t know how long it’ll be before you find yourself at your front door saying goodbye to your kids. But what I do know is that it’ll happen a lot quicker than you think. One moment you’re changing their nappies . . . the next they’re changing yours. So, the ultimate question is this: Will you do enough in the short time you have to prepare your kids? And will your kids leave with the financial confidence and the street smarts to seize the opportunities the world has to offer them? Well, the reality is that young people aged between 18 and 24 have the lowest levels of financial literacy of any age group, according to ASIC research. In other words—if your kid is normal, they are not prepared. Normal is $4200 in credit card debt. Normal is making only the minimum repayments, which will take them 42 years to pay off, with a whopping $21 080 in interest. Normal is accepting the bank’s offer for an increased credit card limit . . . Oh, okay, sure, and a loan for a new car. Normal is working a job they’ve outgrown so they can continue making repayments on stuff they
regret buying. The bottom line is this: as a parent, the days are long, but the years are quick . . . And you only have a very short time to influence your kids. Because once they turn 18, you have to share that influence—with their friends, with their bank, with their Instagram account, with their boss. And most of these people don’t have your kids’ best interests at heart . . . but you do.
What really makes the difference? Have you ever wondered what really makes the difference—why some kids fly and others seem to flail? Is it having wealthy, educated, upper-middle-class parents? Is it attending a $35 000-a-year private school you mortgaged your kidney to get them into? Is it receiving a big-arse cheque at their 21st for a deposit on their first home? Is it scoring top marks at school and getting into a trophy degree? I’m here to tell you that it’s none of these things. Besides, you and I both know people who’ve had all these blessings in life but have still turned out like Paris Hilton. So, what does make the difference? You do.
My promise to you Being a parent is a tough and sometimes thankless job. It often feels like you’re making it up as you go along. Like you should be doing more. Well, here’s my promise to you: By the end of this book you’ll have a simple, no fuss plan that will guarantee that your kids will be confident and smart with money . . . in as little as three minutes a week. Someday—many years from now, long after you’ve forgotten this book—my hope is your kids will come to you. Maybe they’ll have kids of their own. Maybe they’ll finally understand some of what you’re going through now. Yet no matter where they are, or what life’s thrown at them, ultimately they’ll be doing okay.
And they’ll thank you for what you did for them today. Just like I did with my dad. It wasn’t big or flashy. There was no background music playing, no tears welling up. I simply sat down, looked him in the eye, and said: ‘Thanks mate.’
Growing up Barefoot My father quit school when he was 16 and began working at a service station in Ouyen, a tiny wheatbelt town in the Mallee. (Claim to fame? It’s the hottest place in Victoria. And it has the best vanilla slices. Think about that combo.) One fateful day the bell on the servo door chimed, and in walked the most beautiful girl Dad had ever seen. Her name was Joan. The way my father tells the story, he instantly knew she was ‘the one’. My mother, the more conservative of the two, was more circumspect, and with good reason. Looking back at the polaroids of my parents when they were dating, I see a young man with mutton-chop sideburns, flares and a look in his eyes that I know only too well. It said: ‘I’m batting above my weight with this girl, so I need to give this everything I’ve got.’ And for the next 40 years, he did (and continues to). He worked day and night at that servo. In fact, he was there so much that he lived in the caravan out the back for a while, saving his shekels. And it worked. Years later he bought that servo. When my parents got hitched they built our family home, a functional fibro joint located at the top of what the locals called ‘Tickle Belly Hill’. True dinks, we’d actually have mail addressed and delivered to ‘Tickle Belly Hill’. I came into the world at Ouyen Hospital, but, unfortunately for my mother, I was born dangerously close to the VFL Grand Final. So after she checked herself out of hospital(!), she arrived home and was greeted by Dad and his mates—including the doctor who’d delivered me—downing frothies in the living room, watching the footy. Yes, I grew up in another era. An era before helicopter parenting, tiger mumming and free-range fathering. Flipping through our family photo albums one day, I found this gem: Is this a potential petrohazard . . . or a photo opportunity?
The author, aged 18 months, in Ouyen
Yes, I’m in a (red) jumpsuit. Yes, my itsy-bitsy fingers are poking around a live, hot, rusty old petrol pump. Yes, the barrels of petrol—stacked three high—appear to be held only by a single plank of wood. ‘Say cheese, Scotty!’ (Contrast this to my kids, who aren’t allowed outside unless they’re wearing a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeve shirt, protective sunglasses and SPF-100 lathered head to toe. Because the sun is DANGEROUS.) That’s basically the story of my childhood. When I was in primary school, Dad and I loved doing jobs in his old ute. Every now and again, when we were up a bush road, he’d pull over and let me sit on his lap and steer, while he simultaneously controlled the pedals, changed the three-on-the-tree gears and smoked a ciggie. ‘Just don’t tell your mother.’ (About the driving, not the smoking in a confined space with his young son.) My parents haven’t changed. My old man affectionately teases my sons, calling them ‘fatty’ and ribbing them about liking the colour pink, which is ‘for girls’. This is quite confronting for my wife, who grew up in hipsterville North Fitzroy with academic parents and who spends her spare time reading books on positive childhood psychology and genderneutral parenting. Still, I turned out alright . . . right? See, for all the things my parents may have got wrong . . . they got some big ones right, too.
The day my life changed forever I was 10 years old. It was the school holidays and, unlike my mates, who were probably kicking a footy or playing on the Atari 2600, I was working with my dad. At the end of the day he sat me down on his knee and made an announcement: Dad: ‘Instead of giving you pocket money today, I’ve decided I’m going to give you one of my shares in BHP.’ Me: Blink. Blink. Dad: ‘That means you’re now a part-owner of one of the biggest companies in the world . . . and they’ll share their profits with you.’ I didn’t have a clue what he was on about. Yet this was my dad, and he was my hero, so if he was excited I figured I should be too. I’m guessing my old man didn’t have a grand plan when he gave me that share. In fact, it may well have been something he did on the spur of the moment because he didn’t have any shrapnel in his pocket. But it doesn’t matter how it came about; what matters is that in one moment my life was changed. That day kicked off what has become a lifelong interest in money . . . and here I am today, writing this book. That’s the power we have as parents.
‘If I only knew then what I know now . . .’ How often do you hear people say: ‘If I only knew then what I know now . . . my life would be so different today.’ That’s probably true for you. And if you don’t have a plan, it’ll end up being true for your kids too. See, as you read this, Grade 3 children across Australia are being taught about credit cards by the Commonwealth Bank. Facebook is studying your kids’ every like, share and photo, and selling to advertisers who, in turn, sell them to someone else. Google is covertly building up a highly detailed profile of what your kids are searching for, to use later. These companies have a plan for your kids. It’s time you do too. You need to fight for their future.
And yet when I say this to parents, they often reply with things like: ‘But I can’t teach my kids about money—I don’t know anything about it myself!’ Look, you don’t need any special financial knowledge to raise financially fit kids; that’s what I’m here for. Besides, my parents didn’t have any knowledge. My father quit school when he was 16. However, for the first decade of my life I sat around the family dinner table each night and listened to Mum and Dad talk about their ‘dream home’ . . . a brick veneer four-bedder in Bendigo. For years my sister and I watched them scrimp and save and strategise. And when we finally moved into that home (with sheets for curtains), to us it may as well have been the Taj Mahal! My parents showed us what patience, persistence and acting like grown-ups looked like. Hopefully you’ve been helped along by my last book, but maybe not. Regardless, this book has been written with the assumption that you have zero financial knowledge. ‘But I’m a single parent.’ I’ve written this book with single parents in mind. My sister is a single parent, and I know how many balls you have in the air. In fact, I’ve not only had single parents review the book, they’ve helped me develop the plan (hence being able to do it in just three minutes a week!). I’m going to show you how powerful you really are. ‘But I’m a grandparent. Can I use this book to help influence my grandkids?’ Yes, you can. I actually see it all the time: a wise grandparent takes on the duty of teaching their grandkids the value of a buck. It’s a very special role . . . a bond . . . something that connects them at a deeper level to their grandkids. And it often becomes the grandparents’ legacy, the thing the kids remember well into adulthood. If that sounds like you, well, think of this as your road map to teaching your grandkids the oldfashioned values of hard work, and saving. ‘But I don’t want my kids to become obsessed with money.’ Having a plan for teaching your kids about money isn’t about corrupting them, or making them obsessed with money, or turning them into snooty, spoilt money-grubbers. It’s the opposite.
For me, money is about values: It taught me about working hard and doing a good job. It taught me about setting a goal, saving for it, and spending wisely. It taught me about the life-changing power of giving . . . the amazing buzz I get from helping people. And it’ll do the same for your kids, too. ‘But I’ve left it too late.’ No you haven’t. And I’m not just saying that as an eager author at the start of a book; it’s backed up by hard scientific data. Later we’ll meet Professor Tim Kasser, a psychologist from Illinois who conducted a fascinating study called the ‘Materialism Intervention’. The study took a bunch of upper-middle-class materialistic brats and, using similar techniques to those I’m going to teach you, created compelling, long-lasting change in their lives. It’s never too late. Look, the entire thesis of this book can be boiled down to one line: ‘As parents it’s okay if we get most things wrong . . . as long as we get a few big things right.’ And in this book, I’m going to show you exactly what you need to get right. Together, we’re going to put in place a plan that makes sure your kids don’t have any financial regrets. I’m going to lay out an incredibly simple plan that will allow your kids to thrive . . . Regardless of their current age. Regardless of your current income. And regardless of your current knowledge of money. If you’ve always wanted to prepare your child for whatever life throws at them—crazy high house prices, an increasingly automated workforce, or any other financial landmine that might be lying in wait for them—then this book is for you.
No overwhelm, no guilt and no homework And this is where we do a u-bolt from every other finance or parenting book you’ve ever read. I’m going to make a promise to you right now: in the pages that follow, there will be no overwhelm, no guilt and definitely no homework. As a parent myself, I know that each of us (to varying degrees) lives with the guilt that we’re not
doing enough to prepare our kids—and I sure as hell am not going to add to it. Let’s face it . . . parenting is hard enough. Let me give you an example: one morning I was walking along Collins Street, Melbourne, with my then two-year-old, who was, as always, straggling behind. ‘Hurry up!’ I yelled over my shoulder. No response. My eyes darted around trying to find him. He was . . . gone. Then a guy walked past, smiled, and nodded to a point 10 metres up the footpath. Through a crowd of people I spotted my son . . . with his pants around his ankles, peeing on a tree. In the middle of Melbourne’s financial mecca. At 8.45 am on a Wednesday. On a crowded footpath. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ I screamed, rushing towards him. ‘Bush wee,’ he replied matter-of-factly. ‘Look, we aren’t on the farm today. You can’t just down your dacks and wee on a tree in the middle of the city!’ Finally, I came to my senses and scooped him up around his waist. However, he responded like every two-year-old does when they’re in trouble: He went limp. So, I’ve now got him under my arm—with his pants around his ankles—and he’s still weeing. Kind of like a pop-up sprinkler. There I stood—in the peak morning shuffle, with office workers awkwardly rushing past us, avoiding eye contact—negotiating with a tinkling two-year-old. Again . . . parenting is hard enough, and I’m not going to ‘should’ all over you. Other finance books for kids might assign you huge lists of things to do: check off 91 chores each week. Follow a nightly 11-step plan. Have a detailed remuneration plan (pocket money) that calculates payments based on the square metres of bedroom vacuumed. Bugger that! If it feels like homework, you’re not going to do it . . . and your kids definitely won’t do it. Instead, I have a much simpler way for you.
Our game plan This book is in three parts, and each of them has some of the ‘big things’ that you should get right as a parent.
Part I: First Steps The first part is about the fundamentals . . . getting your kids to take their first financial steps. I’ve boiled down the basics of teaching your kids about money to a dead-simple strategy: Three jam jars . . . to put their pocket money in. Three jobs . . . so they can earn that pocket money. Three minutes a week . . . where you’ll ‘lock in’ life-changing money lessons with a simple weekly ritual over dinner. That’s it. And yes, it does take you three minutes (I know because I’ve tested it in the field with lots of families). Your kids will pitch in and help get dinner on the table, work hard and do some jobs. Then they’ll get paid, and make decisions on how to spend, save and give that money.
Part II: The Barefoot Ten The second part of the book will arm your kids with the life-changing money skills that most people don’t learn till they’re in their 40s (if ever!). Remember, as a parent you can afford to get a lot of things wrong, as long as you get a few big things right. Well, I’ve stepped out exactly what these big things are, and I’ve put them into a simple checklist that you’ll be able to go through with your kids. But let me be clear: this is NOT just a list of topics, or a table of contents, or a lesson plan. In their bestseller The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chip and Dan Heath researched the building blocks of life-changing moments: ‘We spend weekend after weekend together with our kids, but in our memories all those times blend together. What’s needed is to rise above the routine. A few minutes can change a life. And the moments that stick with us years later are ones that involve praise, and create an emotionally elevated experience.’
That’s why for each of these ‘big things’, I’ve created custom-made, real-life experiences that you can do together over the family dinner table. If you check these experiences off with your kids before they leave home, they’re virtually guaranteed to be financially safe and secure for the rest of their lives. I call them the Barefoot Ten . . .
Hold your alpacas for a moment. Think about the headstart a kid would have if they’d checked off all these things at the start of their life. Think about the headstart you would have had if you’d checked them off when you were still in
school. I’ve worked through the Barefoot Ten with kids of all ages, and I can tell you it boosts their confidence—often dramatically. Instead of internalising what the bullies at school say about them, or what the bullies online say about them, or what the bully who looks at them in the mirror each morning says about them . . . the Barefoot Ten changes their identity, and lifts their vision for what they can go out and achieve. They’re prepared, and in control. That’s what the Barefoot Ten will give your kid.
Part III: Off and Running By the time you get to this part, you’ll have already scored the big wins that will ensure your kids never have to worry about money. That’s a feat worth celebrating, and that’s exactly what we’ll do— in fact, I’ve organised a very unusual celebration for you. Plus, I’ll show you how to keep your family safe and secure, with a strategy I call the ‘Fearless Folder’. That’s the game plan. So how the hell are we actually going to achieve all this? With food.
Weekly Barefoot Money Meals I based my book, The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need , around the concept of ‘Barefoot Date Nights’—where couples (and singles) go out to dinner and sort their money over garlic bread and wine. I came up with the idea years ago when I was trying to get my wife, Liz, interested in how we’d manage our money as a couple. At the time, the idea of sitting down and chatting about money was as sexy to her as me breaking out a spreadsheet after dinner and saying, ‘Let’s you and I fill in some spending cells . . . baby.’ Anyway, I saw how powerful these nights were for us, so I wrote about them. Turns out they were helpful to other people too. That book went on to become one of the bestselling Australian books of all time, and a big reason for its success was the practicality of the Barefoot Date Nights in getting ‘non-interested parties’ interested in money.
This book follows the same approach, but this time over the family dinner table. Instead of Barefoot Date Nights, we’re going to have a weekly ‘Barefoot Money Meal’. And given we’re already in the business of feeding our kids each night, this is going to be simple. All you have to do is have dinner, once a week, and I’ll take care of the rest. Sound good? Good. Now, take a deep breath and kick off your shoes—we’re about to take our First Steps.
‘I swore I’d make things different for my daughter . . .’ Amanda Screen, Ballina, NSW
I remember the exact moment I told my husband that our daughter had a brain tumour. He was looking after our four-month-old son. He just went into shock and couldn’t speak. To be told your child is going to die is the worst thing imaginable. The doctors said she had 12 months to live. She was only six at the time. I thought that moment was the lowest point in my life . . . but that was to come. My husband just couldn’t cope, so he left. All of a sudden, I was a single mum caring for a baby and a sick child—and in debt over my head. Our local community helped us fundraise to cover the medical expenses, which totalled over $100k. But my personal debts were spinning completely out of control. And I was at risk of losing our home. I borrowed The Barefoot Investor from the library and read it in one night. It changed everything. Within a day I had our family’s first financial plan. And within 12 months, I had paid off my debts and had Mojo in the bank—I was in control! I want the same for my kids. My daughter Talaya beat the odds—she is now 15 and tumour-free, but has an acquired brain injury that affects her vision and other areas of her life. Sometimes she gets worried and anxious about her future. And that’s why the Money Meals have been a godsend; it’s a really simple way for me to teach her all the financial knowledge I wish I’d known when I was her age. With the Barefoot Ten, I now have a simple plan to teach her, so she’ll always be able to feel in control. In fact, as we’ve worked through them together, amazing things have started to happen . . .
PART I First Steps
You’re probably keen as mustard to get the jump on the Barefoot Ten, and the ripper Barefoot Money Meals I have planned for you. But before we do that, there’s something even more important we need to sort out. Pocket money. Believe it or not, paying pocket money is one of the most powerful tools you have to teach your kids about money. Yet for most parents, it’s a source of shame . . . because last time they tried it ‘it didn’t really work
with our kids’, and their efforts just fizzled out. Even then, most parents who pay their kids pocket money are only doing it half right. Getting them to do a few chores and paying them a few bucks is only the first step. The main money lesson comes in what they do with their pocket money: the spending . . . the saving . . . and the giving. That’s where the life-changing lessons really happen. You want to take that pocket money and use it to teach your kids things like goal-setting, delayed gratification, kindness and empathy. That’s why we’re going to sort it out first, in Part I: First Steps—and then the rest of this book (and the Barefoot Ten) will build upon those foundations. Thankfully, I’ve made it unbelievably easy for you. Because what I’m about to lay out for you is the simplest (yet most powerful) pocket money plan you’ve ever seen: Three jars. Three jobs. Done and dusted in three minutes a week. Honestly, if this plan is all you take away from this book, your kids will be so far ahead of everyone else it’s scary. Let’s begin.
Three Jam Jars Roughly once a week, a marketing guru contacts me with their ideas on how I can make a lot of cashola. Their pitch is almost always the same: I should ‘capitalise on the success of the Barefoot Investor book by diversifying the product offering’. And their solution is almost always the same: I should create an app that I can charge people $2.50 a month for. Or sell Barefoot-branded piggy banks. Or do a deal with a bank on a Barefoot-approved account. And my answer is always the same: No. No. And are you freaking kidding me? No! I much prefer a no-technology method that I call ‘three jam jars’. So, please put this book down right now, head to the pantry, and get some Tim Tams. While you’re there, check and see if you have three jam jars. (Actually, any three glass jars will do. We had the same big-arse jar of pickled onions in our pantry for my entire childhood. I guess Mum bought them thinking she’d try that fancy Peter Russell-Clarke recipe, but never got around to it.) Also check and see if you have stickers to get your kids to label their jars—the more sparkly the better. If you don’t, make a note to buy some jam and stickers next time you’re doing the shopping. Go on, do it. Done? Good. Okay, now as you munch on Tim Tams, let’s jam . . . jars (and that is my first, and last, dad joke of the book).
Jam jars are the new buckets If the whole idea of dividing your money into three sounds familiar, you’d be right . . . If you read The Barefoot Investor, you’ll know that I have the simplest money management system going round. In fact, it’s so simple I sketched it out on a serviette on my very first Date Night with my wife. Which is why I call it the ‘Serviette Strategy’.