Even though the education system has made tremendous strides when it comes to teaching children certain skills in various arenas in recent years, learning how to become and stay financially independent is rarely emphasized in schools, especially for girls.
So it’s even more incumbent you these days, if you’re a parent, to teach your children valuable financial and money management skills by leading by example and demonstrating first-hand the importance of earning, saving, and spending money wisely.
I have met and heard about far too many women that flounder financially once they enter into the “real world” as a result of having very little experience or guidance about how to handle their money. In order to be able to manage money and become financially independent, you have to be able to make money in the first place—and that is done by cultivating marketable skills.
We discussed in one of the previous blogs, Money Management Lessons from My Mother and Me how my mother helped me learn the ropes of money management by encouraging me to deal with merchants at the market from a young age. She also made sure that I learned skills that made me a more attractive candidate for jobs—and thus taught me how to start making money with those skills.
When I was a child, girls rarely rode bikes in my village since the practice was socially frowned upon. However, my mother wanted me to be free, so she felt that I should ride a bicycle.
Since my family couldn’t afford a bike, my mother arranged to rent one so that I could learn to ride one. I fell quite a bit in the beginning because my mother (with her nine-yard sari) couldn’t run alongside me to help me balance lest she accidentally reveal her legs while running—a big social taboo.
After several days of tumbles and falls, I finally mastered riding a bike. This learning process served as a practical lesson that sparked a desire in me to learn as many skills as I possibly could. And my mother had single-handedly opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. It also taught me to not give up in the face of failure and that the reward of satisfaction is greater than the struggle to get there.
Years later, when I was a student at the University of Pune in India, my ability to ride a bike allowed me to earn money. With the third-hand bicycle I had purchased, I was able to get from one end of the town to the other, which meant I was able to accept a job while simultaneously working as an assistant in the university’s women’s dorm. It also meant that I had plenty of time to devote to my studies, and my good grades eventually paved the way for acceptance in a prestigious graduate school and a lucrative career towards a financially independent life.
Like my mother, I strove to teach my children the necessary skills to succeed in life and in the job market, though it was on a somewhat different level. In the US, my children grew up in a high-tech market, so I tried to teach my kids the ropes of the high-tech world. In 1984, when my son Tushar was 15 and my daughter Nisha was 11, I bought each of them a portable personal computer so they could take ownership of their work.
During their high school years, my kids worked for my computer technology company, Atre International Consultants, Inc., doing anything and everything. Part of my kids’ jobs included accompanying me at conferences to provide administrative support. After one of these conferences, my husband asked Tushar, “How was the conference?” His response was one of the best compliments I have ever received: “Mom knows her sh*t.”
The skills my children learned working at my office made them aware of what it takes to keep a successful business running in the real world. And while I introduced Tushar to some of his initial future customers when he started his own software company, he did a good job keeping those customers for a long time (and later acquiring plenty of customers on his own) by practicing the skills he had learned.
Nisha’s Harvard education and work experience helped her to move on to Columbia University for her MBA. Working professionally taught her how to make and manage money. She is now a partner at a boutique financial company in New York City.
Heritage is not only money or properties or jewelry—it also includes transferring the skills your parents taught you (or that you wish they had taught you) to the next generation. I have tried my best to pass the baton from my mother to my children and have observed my daughter teaching her children money management skills. I suggest you to read – 11 ways to teach financial independence to children of every age.
My goal is to help you start thinking like a world woman warrior, to become financially independent and raise financially independent kids.
The first step is to make a list of all the skills that you have today. Every single one. Then evaluate whether or not/how you can leverage or utilize this particular skill to make money. This exercise will leave you with a list of valuable money-making skills that YOU ALREADY HAVE.
Please share your stories, insights, or questions in the comments section. Let’s help and inspire one another to become and stay financially independent.
Other valuable resources –