I first heard about Sam Beckbessinger when we did a roundup of money books last year. Her best selling book Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup became a favourite with her blunt, smart and easy to understand advice and tips on a range of financial topics. The topics covered understanding money to tracking spending and choosing investments and savings. Soon after reading her book, I signed up for her newsletter (subscribe here), which is packed with her entertaining anecdotes, honesty and good advice like this article which I think everyone needs to read (and then action).
Earlier this year she released a teen edition to Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup, titled Manage Your Money Like a Grownup. It’s a toned-down version of the original (read: no swearing) that provides practical money advice to teens in a fun (and often times funny) way. The book is divided into three sections: understanding money, making money and managing money. She deftly explains different families money cultures and financial status, compound interest, side hustles, careers and learning to manage your own money. It’s the type of book I wish I had read when I was a teen and teaches kids the value of money in way that gives them ownership over money whether that comes in the form of an allowance or a side hustle.
Recently I asked Sam 8 questions on her latest book and financial advice…
What financial advice do you wish you received when you were a teen?
The earlier you start saving, the less you have to save overall, because of the magic of compound interest. When you’re young, saving is a superpower.
What is the best financial advice you’ve received?
It’s far more important to insure your own ability to earn an income, than to insure your phone or your car or anything else you own. Get an income protection policy!
You speak about teens getting side hustles to make money and learn about business– what was your side hustle growing up and what did you learn from it.
I had a few! My silliest one was that I used to make “magic potions” (they were various combinations of juice) and sold them at school. For the labels, I wrote silly little poems explaining what each potion would do, so I guess it was my first writing job, too.
You speak about family culture and how it impacts the way families speak/treat money. What would your advice be to a teen who reads your book and wants to move away from the way their family looks at money. How do they make their own money decisions while still respecting their parents?
It can be really hard for many families to have honest, non-anxious conversations about money. I encourage teens to imagine they’re aliens and they’re studying humans for the first time, like an explorer. Trying to understand their family’s money culture, but not to judge it. I suggest some practical questions for teens to ask their folks, to understand what it was like for them growing up, how they got the job they have now, what their parents taught them about money. If you listen with curiosity, you’ll understand why your family money culture is what it is. But it helps to then read some books on your own, and expose yourself to alternative ways of thinking about money, so that one day you can make up your own mind and develop a relationship with finances that works for you. That’s why I chose to write a book that talks to teens directly.
You speak of how money was never discussed when you were growing up and that it took you years to unlearn those money beliefs. When did you start discovering better money beliefs and how did you begin unlearning past messages and learn new ones?
I had a job that I really hated, but I couldn’t figure out how to quit, because I’d allowed my monthly expenses to balloon bigger than my paycheque. I realised that the less I was in charge of my finances, the less freedom I had to make decisions that weren’t about money! Understanding how money works has allowed me to build a career that makes me much happier.
At what age should parents start discussing money with children and how?
Money isn’t just about rands and cents, it’s about how we make choices. Your children learn by watching you, so it’s important to model good decision-making and delayed gratification for your child from the very beginning. Research shows that kids can understand basic economic ideas like value and exchange from as young as three! No matter how old your child is, there are age-appropriate ways you can start to teach them good money habits.
You’ve gone from never talking about money to always talking about money. How do you get comfortable talking about topics that aren’t comfortable?
It gets easier with practice! The more you talk about money, the more other people will open up about money to you, and you’ll see that everyone else is confused and overwhelmed as you are. Shame doesn’t help anybody, and your net worth doesn’t determine YOUR worth.
What are your top financial learning resources (aside from your two books)?
The Fat Wallet Show by Kristia van Heerden and Simon Brown is absolutely essential listening for South Africans who care about financial wellbeing. Warren Ingram’s book “Be Your Own Financial Advisor” is great, and Mapalo Makhu and Maya Fisher-French are both superb columnists and you should read every single thing they write.
You can find Manage Your Money Like a Grownup at most local booksellers now or online here.
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