We discuss money often in our family. Until recently, I thought this was an unqualified positive.
When we returned from our summer travel to Washington, D.C. and Spain, the entire family reviewed the costs of all three weeks, pinpointing the areas of greatest expense (spoiler alert: the U.S. travel was much more pricey!).
When we went out for ice cream last night, we reviewed how having two of us share a 4 scoop sampler saves money relative to each of us ordering individual double scoops.
I felt good about how the lessons were landing - my son and daughter now both suggest we buy a large and ask for an extra empty cup on our hot chocolate daddy dates.
All seemed good and proper until a few days ago, as my son and I were playing one of the what if games he enjoys so much.
I posed the following question while hiking down from an overlook: "Would you rather be gifted $1 million that you could only spend on yourself or $1 million that you could only spend on those in need?"
He really struggled with it, looking for loopholes that I quickly closed. Finally, he admitted (a little embarrassed, but with characteristic honesty) that he'd prefer to spend it on himself.
He turned the question back to me, and seemed genuinely shocked when I replied that I'd prefer to spend it on others.
He tried to reason with me: "But you could spend all day with our family!" "But we could travel more!" It left him a little confused, since we talk openly how money creates the ability to buy freedom and here I seemed to be rejecting an opportunity.
There's no sitcom-perfect resolution to this misunderstanding - apparently my emphasis on earning and saving towards FI has unwittingly overshadowed the role of charitable contributions as an important component of our family's value system.
I need to lead by example so my son understands we espouse give as you go, not give once you get there.
It's a process I'll be working on for a long time to come: how to raise a couple of Gracious Givers instead of breeding the next generation's Gordon Gekkos.