Don't Be a Snowplow Parent

There is a new term we are hyper-focused on this month at Hill Investment Group – “snowplow parent.” The phrase refers to a parent who clears every obstacle out of their child’s way, preventing the youngster from developing the skills they will need later in life.

In episode 7 of the Take the Long View with Matt Hall podcastexperienced wealth counselor and financial therapist, Marilyn Wechter says “If you think about spoiled, what you’re talking about is kids who haven’t had the opportunity to figure out how to solve problems on their own and haven’t had the opportunity to figure out how to get something that they really want other than passively being given to.”

Marilyn and Matt Hall discussed the 4 primary things spoiled kids have in common.

  1. Few chores or responsibilities

  2. Not many rules to govern behavior or schedules

  3. Parents and others lavish them with time and assistance

  4. A plethora of material possessions

So, if we know what not to do, what’s the solution? Marilyn suggests we should nurture curiosity, patience, thrift, generosity, perseverance, modesty, and perspective.

That’s a lot to tackle, especially because today you can buy just about anything from your phone and POOF, it shows up at your door the next day.  How do you teach kids the value of money when your kids rarely see you hand a physical dollar to a live human in exchange for a good or service? Are the days of stashing wrinkled dollars and loose change in a piggy bank over?

In our house, once you turn 8, which is the age of my oldest son Jack, you begin to earn an allowance on a weekly basis. It has been interesting to see how Jack chooses to spend or save his allowance. At first, he bought a few Pokémon cards on Amazon with our help.  In an effort to get him to realize everything does not come in a cardboard box a few days after you order it online, we went to a physical store.  We chose to visit one of his favorite spots, the store where everything is a dollar – I mean everything!  Jack chose his items and when he had to hand over his 4 hard-earned dollars to the cashier in exchange for a few cheap toys, he began to learn the value of money.  Shortly after that trip to The Dollar Store and some careful thought, Jack realized that the toys he bought would likely break or become less interesting within just a few days, so he’s now committed to saving his allowance.  He is learning if he puts his money in a bank, the bank actually pays HIM (very, very little these days) to keep his cash with them. That concept was mind-blowing for an 8-year-old. He asks me each week how much money he has in the bank and is thrilled to watch it grow. I can’t wait to show him the power of investing and the valuable work we do at Hill Investment Group!

Talking how to take the long view (not snowplowing) is vital at an early age, but as we hear in the podcast, it is never too late to start!

PJ McDaniel