We were both fortunate — our parents instilled in us the importance of personal financial management. Our moms and dads taught us a lot of things that have been invaluable throughout our lives, and among those things were sound principles for earning, spending, and saving money. Our parents had to know how to do these things, because they were raising large families on (usually) one modest income. They knew the importance of making the most of what you have and of passing that vital skill on to your kids. In many families, money is a taboo subject — parents don’t level with their kids about the limitations, realities, and details of their budgets. Some parents we talk with believe that dealing with money is an adult issue and that children should be insulated from it so they can enjoy being kids. In many families, kids hear about money only when disagreements and financial crises bubble to the surface. Thus begins the harmful cycle of children having negative associations with money and financial management. In other cases, parents with the best of intentions pass on their bad money-management habits. You may have learned from a parent, for example, to buy things to cheer yourself up. Or you may have witnessed a family member maniacally chasing get-rich-quick business and investment ideas. Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your parents. But in the area of personal finance, as in any other area, poor family advice and modeling can be problematic. Think about where your parents learned about money management and then consider whether they had the time, energy, or inclination to research choices before making their decisions. For example, if they didn’t do enough research or had faulty information, your parents may mistakenly have thought that banks were the best places for investing money or that buying stocks was like going to Las Vegas. (You can find the best places to invest your money in Part 3 of this book.) In still other cases, the parents have the right approach, but the kids do the opposite out of rebellion. For example, if your parents spent money carefully and thoughtfully and often made you feel denied, you may tend to do the opposite, buying yourself gifts the moment any extra money comes your way. Although you can’t change what the educational system and your parents did or didn’t teach you about personal finances, you now have the ability to find out what you need to know to manage your finances. If you have children of your own, don’t underestimate their potential or send them out into the world without the skills they need to be productive and happy adults. Buy them some good financial books when they head off to university or begin their first job.