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The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money Hardcover – February 3, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“I started reading this book and cannot put it down. . . . I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to raise their kids to have curiosity, patience, thrift, modesty, generosity, perseverance, and perspective. A godsend of a book.” (Jessica Seinfeld)

“In the course of profiling dozens of savvy families, Lieber gives tips on how to talk about money with kids in a calm way. . . . He makes a convincing case that the tendency to avoid the topic is a missed opportunity.” (The Wall Street Journal)

The Opposite of Spoiled is flush with practical ways to incorporate money lessons into family life. . . . Lieber’s style is conversational and frank, with a sense of humor. . . . It’s rare to find a book about finance with so much heart.” (Associated Press)

“Finally, an honest, modern, comprehensive and nuanced book about kids and money. Parents report that conversations about money fill them with so much dread and confusion that they change the subject rather than dive in. The Opposite of Spoiled comes to the rescue.” (Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee)

“Lieber’s book is intensely pragmatic, relentlessly anecdotal -- and that’s why I loved it. . . . A book that will start important conversations in lots of households.” (Claire Dederer, The New York Times Book Review)

“Ron Lieber’s tips are practical, accessible and, best of all, rooted in the desire to foster an honest dialogue with our children.” (Heather Stevens, "Balancing Act" column in The Chicago Tribune)

The Opposite of Spoiled is a thoughtful, and often inspiring, book that also delivers dozens of smart, practical tips for turning conversations about money into lessons about living. If you’ve got kids, want kids -- or heck, have been a kid -- read this book.” (Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human)

“All of us worry about how to give our kids a proper dose of perspective and gratitude. Ron Lieber’s explanation of how money conversations imprint these good values (and so much more) is just the thing parents need to read right now.” (Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege)

“We all want to raise children with good values, yet we often neglect to talk to our children about money. This engaging and important book breaks new ground by suggesting that the next generation deserves to be better at money than we are. A must-read for parents.” (Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project)

“An astute book filled with interesting anecdotes and wise lessons.” (Forbes)

New York Times columnist Lieber makes a strong argument that money is something that children notice and talk about. . . . Lieber’s easygoing style will encourage parents to raise a new generation that’s both confident and compassionate.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Lieber guides parents in conveying the value and significance of money and how to use it wisely, how to spend and save, how to give and invest. Parents will appreciate the sound advice and broad perspective Lieber offers on this important subject.” (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

We may not realize it, but children are hyperaware of money. They have scores of questions about its nuances that parents often don't answer, or know how to answer well. But for Ron Lieber, a personal finance columnist and father, good parenting means talking about money with our kids much more often. When parents avoid these conversations, they lose a tremendous opportunity—not just to model important financial behaviors, but also to imprint lessons about what their family cares about most.

Written in a warm, accessible voice, grounded in real-world stories from families with a range of incomes, The Opposite of Spoiled is a practical guidebook for parents that is rooted in timeless values. Lieber covers all the basics: the best ways to handle the tooth fairy, allowance, chores, charity, savings, birthdays, holidays, cell phones, splurging, clothing, cars, part-time jobs, and college tuition. But he also identifies a set of traits and virtues—like modesty, patience, generosity, and perspective—that parents hope their young adults will carry with them out into the world.

In The Opposite of Spoiled, Ron Lieber delivers a taboo-shattering manifesto that will help every parent embrace the connection between money and values to help them raise young adults who are grounded, unmaterialistic, and financially wise beyond their years.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; F First Edition edition (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062247018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062247018
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bassocantor TOP 50 REVIEWER on February 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
THE OPPOSITE OF SPOILED is an extensive investigation into why kids are spoiled--and more importantly, what we can do to avoid that mistake.

There are lots of practical tips, interviews, and stories from families that have tried different methods to make your kids
value work and spend their money wisely. For example, the author gives an example of one family that calculates the most fun per dollar spent on their recreation. The whole family gets together and discusses what's the best use of their money.

Ron notes that spoiled kids have four things in common. First, they don't have many chores; second they don't have any rules; thirdly they have lots of free time assistance; and fourthly, they have a lot of stuff.

Here are some other great ideas:

♦ It's important to talk to your kids about money matters; "Take out the bills and show them. Let them ask all the questions they want."

♦ Teach kids delayed gratification: "How to delay gratification is a key part of learning to handle money well... "Teaching our children the ability to wait is a big part of our overall goal, and what's most important about allowance is what will happen when they're too old to get one."

♦ It used to be that people compare themselves to others horizontally. But now it's possible to compare yourself vertically - that is against wealthy people.

♦ Studies have shown that kids who watch commercials are much more likely to want to play with a toy rather than with other kids. So the author recommends severely limiting watching of commercials.

♦ Encourage your kids to give money away: "Storing allowance money in a 'give jar' along with the 'spend' and 'save' ones will help.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The subtitle is really the key to this book: this is about everything having to do with money and raising kids to be smart about it: from being honest about how much you make (and other financial matters) to learning to save, spend wisely, and give. Raising kids who aren't spoiled isn't a main objective so much as a side result of helping them to be wise about money. Note that it really isn't about ways for lower income families to deal with lack of money so much as higher income families manage an abundant stream available to their kids.

The book breaks down into sections: Talking about finances with your kids, allowance, save/spend/give, impulse control, giving to others/charities, jobs/work ethics for teens, and more. There are some excellent points made about things we take for granted: e.g., the topic on allowances was very enlightening and challenged some long held beliefs I had about how/why/when I give an allowance. As well, a section on managing teen issues such as wants/needs (brand name jeans, video games, etc.) was also very informative.

Since the book was about money, none of the emotional issues such as overparenting/helicopter parenting/doing everything for a child instead of letting them do it/fail are not discussed. I disagree with the author a bit that managing money alone will help keep children from being spoiled. But on the single subject of finances and kids (which encompasses much more than the spoiled title), there is a lot of good information here.

Suitable for parents with toddlers through teen years (even college years, a bit), the book has a broad reach. It is an easy, if dry, read that can be finished in a few hours. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Nobody wants their kids to be spoiled. New York Times columnist Ron Lieber wants to help. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart about Money provides some principles and guidelines for parents to think about as they talk about money with their kids. And as Lieber says, talking about money is a great place to start. So many parents keep their kids financially in the dark, either out of a desire to avoid boasting and pride or to protect the kids from financial worries. But Lieber wants parents to "promise to our kids that we will make them better at money than we are."

Lieber recognizes that there's not a good word for the opposite of spoiled as we use the word to describe spoiled kids. So he starts by describing spoiled kids. They have few chores, few rules, doting parents, and lots of material possessions. As any parent of any socio-economic level will recognize, these traits are not found exclusively among children in wealthy families. In The Opposite of Spoiled he attempts to describe the "values and virtues and character traits" that "collectively add up to the kind of grounded, decent young adults that every parent hopes to send out into the world."

Of course the quality of being spoiled doesn't have only to do with financial matters, but that's where Lieber keeps his focus. As the cover illustrates, Lieber is a big fan of the three-jar, save/spend/give plan. Even at a young age, kids can learn to make choices and think in terms of budgeting. One principle I especially liked is the Fun Ratio: before we (or the kids) spend money on things we want, we can "estimate the hours of fun per dollar that any Want of theirs might provide.
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