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The First National Bank of Dad: A Foolproof Method for Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money Paperback – April 24, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a terrific little book that could completely change the way many parents think about children and money. Owen, a staff writer for the New Yorker, entertainingly details ways to "raise children who aren't overwhelmed by the financial side of life." He convincingly argues that the purpose of most parental savings plans for children "is not to promote saving but to prevent consumption." His book sets forth a very clever idea: by setting up a checking account for his children using a Quicken program with a high interest rate-5% per month-Owen shows how he was able to teach them that "the more you save, and the longer you hold it, the more you will be able to spend." In each case, he deftly proves his main idea: that "they became savers because I created a system that rewarded them for spending less than they earned." Most important for parents beleaguered by kids demands to "buy them something," Owen shows how a savings program such as his can help take the emotion out of buying, so that the question kids have to answer "is not `How can I talk Dad into paying for this?' but `Is this something I really want?'" His savings plan (along with his equally interesting "Dad Stock Exchange" idea) is rooted in a clear-headed view of economics as well as a good-faith desire to help parents help kids to become responsible, not greedy, adults.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Lively and entertaining, filled with self-deprecating humor, anecdotes, insights, and clear explanations." -- USA Today

"Saving money . . . should be the child's choice. For an idea that might get your kids to a nest egg voluntarily, take a look at David Owen's book The First National Bank of Dad." -- Jane Bryant Quin, Newsweek

"When your children grow up, few things will affect their lives as much as the presence or absence of money. Unfortunately, most teachers and parents devote little systematic attention to teaching them how to live their economic lives. Start with this enjoyable book for some excellent suggestions." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"This is a terrific little book that could completely change the way many parents think about children and money." -- Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416534253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416534259
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Owen is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a contributing editor of Golf Digest, and he is the author of a dozen books. He lives in northwest Connecticut with his wife, the writer Ann Hodgman. Learn more at www.davidowen.net or (if you're a golfer) at www.myusualgame.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Owen's book should be must reading for all parents with children under age 12. In the first part of the book he describes the success he has had with his own children in establishing a "bank" for them that is both understandable and lucrative. Later he gives excellent advice on providing allowances for youngsters and what they might do with some of the cash including the risks of getting caught up in bubbles nearly as scary as the great internet dot.bomb or dot.con fiasco of 2000: namely, beanie babies. Valuable lessons for children.
Also, the simple language used to describe stocks and bonds could be very useful for young, inquiring minds. Almost surprisingly at the end he segues into the benefits of reading aloud for impressionable minds, and again makes good solid sense. In sum a great book for parents to own and read and even for grandparents to buy for them.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I saw it recommended on a finance website. I was hoping for different ideas dealing with how to teach kids about money.

The first half of this book was great and talked about the author's experience teaching his kids and how he was able to motivate them to save because they wanted to (not because he thought it was the "right thing to do"). He also talks about giving them a safe environment where they can have good and bad experiences with money while they are young and the consequences are still limited. I like his philosophy and his explanations. The first half did a great job offering a new perspective on teaching kids.

The second half was simply too basic for what I wanted. Very basic explanations on "what is a stock" and "what is a mutual fund". This would be helpful if you didn't know anything about these and had to explain it to kids but the explanations were extremely basic.

I couldn't put the book down during the first half but then I couldn't stay awake during the second half.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author's most illuminating insight is this: Children's perception of time is radically different from adults', and thus, their "time preference" is different. When you're eight years old, a year represents 1/8 of your life. Holding on to $20 to earn $0.60 in interest (if you're lucky) is completely undesirable, and parents who force their children to do so are imparting bad money values. In doing this, what they're teaching is that money received should be spent as quickly as possible, before parents can expropriate the cash and put it into "savings" -- a black hole in the eyes of youngsters.

What the author did was create savings accounts for his children that conformed to their perceptions of time. Instead of offering 2-3% a year in interest, he offered 5% PER MONTH interest. This made saving more attractive and taught spending restraint. Additionally, the author and his wife gradually gave more and more financial responsibility to their children as they grew older. One example stands out: While on vacation, the author watched another child beg and plead and throw a fit until his father agreed to buy a $5 tomahawk at a souvenir shop -- the cheap tomahawk was broken before the pair even made it to their car. The author's child, by contrast, since he was spending his own money, and since he had an incentive to save rather than consume, bought a $0.30 item (after negotiating with the shopkeeper). People, including children, make much wiser decisions when they're spending their OWN money.

Additionally, the author talks about how he established a virtual stock exchange (using real money) when his children were interested in stocks.
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Format: Paperback
David Owen's Book meshes well with my philosophy on allowance (partially influenced by Alyson Schafer's books). Let the kids have some money and make them responsible for how they spend it. Not that is easy seeing them blow it on stuff that they'll lose interest in a few days later - but I guess I wasn't any different as a 6 year old. The idea is that it's better if they figure it out when it's only small amounts...

[...] to the rescue:

When my daughter got old enough to actually start a virtual bank for her allowance, I was dreading setting up a spreadsheet and conscientiously keeping up with deposits, withdrawals and interest. Luckily I discovered First Kid Bank ([...]) which is a virtual online allowance bank and does everything needed to follow David's approach. You can set up multiple accounts (Allowance, Savings, Charity, etc.), pay interest on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (with different rates for each account) and even cap the interest paid. You can transfer money between account and do most other transactions you'd expect. And it even has a nice mobile interface so that you can easily withdraw money using your smart phone. And it's free (at least for now)!
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Format: Hardcover
Agree. David Owen is money in the bank. The book is well-written, funny, and has some great principles. Some main points he makes:

* Kids will make good (financial) decisions with the proper incentives.
* Kids need the ability to make mistakes which means you have to let them buy whatever they want (within the house rules), even if it seems like a waste of money.
* Giving them control improves your parent/child relationship.
* Parents shouldn't use money to control their kids. It's bad for everyone.

I've been doing this for a few months now and it has produced great results. My kids are entirely responsible for the money they spend and it's that ownership produces thoughtful spending generally. Sure, I have to bite my tongue at the dollar store sometimes, but when the toy breaks, it's their decision, and they learn. My kids are 6 and 8 and they already understand the concept of compound interest.

Thanks David!
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