By Nury Vittachi
The beginning of the financial year in most international businesses is April, and senior executives get together and talk about money.
But the beginning of the calendar year for most people is January, and I sit down with my children and we talk about pocket money.
My experience is that the two confabs are almost IDENTICAL, right down to the fighting over snacks and the sneaking of toys into the room.
Yet there's one big difference, which is particularly clear this year. Adults make wildly wrong decisions about money. Kids get things right by instinct. Indeed, I would go so far as to say:
Everything you need to know about money you can learn from your kids.
1. Girls eventually stop buying toys, but boys never do.
2. If you have a tiny, completely useless bit of money and you put it in a savings account and wait for a year, you find that at the end of the year it is still a tiny, completely useless bit of money.
3. Some people will pay a premium for stuff that is shiny, but the smart ones don't.
4. Spending money feels good, but coming out of shop without having spent any feels even better.
5. They say that "money talks", but it doesn’t. It just kind of lies there.
6. The amount of pocket money you lend to someone is never the amount you get back. Whether you get more, less, or none of it back depends on how well you chose the kid you lent it to.
7. Girls spend their money on small, cheap, completely useless things, while boys spend their money on big, expensive, completely useless things.
8. People who get loads of pocket money and people who get hardly any still waste the same proportion of it on silly things.
9. Wasting some of your money on silly things is really important.
10. It is impossible for a girl to have too many bags or shoes.
11. It is impossible for a boy to have too many gadgets or transport-related items.
12. Goodie-goodie kids who save all their money are never as fun to be friends with as naughty kids who spend all their money.
13. But when you need to borrow some money, the goodie-goodie kids suddenly start to seem to be really fun people to be friends with.
14. If you go on holiday, your pocket money changes into several thousand yen, dong or lire which sounds like a lot but is only enough for like one can of 7-Up.
15. If you want a rise in pocket money, wait until Dad has had dinner and is on his second Scotch.
16. Folding all your money into a thick bundle and carrying it in your pocket doesn't make it worth any more but feels really good.
17. When you go on a trip, you always take some money to spend, and some as an emergency back-up supply, but by the end of the trip you always end up re-classifying all of it as money to spend.
One of my kids is a spender, one is a saver, and the third is half-half. With luck, they'll learn from each other and end up with a healthy, balanced attitude.
The real challenge is to make sure The Bank of Dad stays solvent.