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The 411: Youth

Teaching kids to manage money

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December 21, 2011 | 1,080 views | Post a comment

As a teenager, Trevor Bolin was a drug-abusing high school dropout who weighed in at more than 300 pounds. He supplemented his meager income pumping gas by hauling possessions to the pawnshop where he picked up just enough money for hot dogs and Kraft mac and cheese.

By 17, Bolin decided he’d had enough. He came up with a plan, and within two years, he’d quit drugs, lost more than 100 pounds, and was close to paying off $85,000 in debt. By 28, he earned his first $1 million in one year.

“My life has nothing to do with luck, good or bad,” Bolin, 32, wrote in his new book, Take Charge and Change Your Life Today. “It revolves around working hard, giving back as much as (if not more than) I get, accepting that attitude is everything, and being grateful for what I have.”

While many parents teach their children the basics of fiscal responsibility by giving them an allowance, Bolin says his experience offers less obvious but equally important lessons. Children need to have a healthy attitude toward money, not only to avoid making choices that make them unhappy, but to allow them a life path that they control. Here are some places to start:

•Avoid making negative comments about money: Sayings like “money is the root of all evil” and “a fool and his money are soon parted” are negative and therefore not helpful.

•Help children recognize the financial lessons they learn from experience: Say you warned your child he should set aside some of Grandma’s birthday money, but he spent it all on impulse. When he’s disappointed later because he can’t buy something he wants, remind him why he can’t.

•Pay yourself first: If your child receives a weekly allowance, he or she should immediately put 10 to 15 percent into a savings account that won’t be touched.

•Help your child set goals: Setting financial goals, noting progress toward achieving them, and enjoying the satisfaction of crossing them off the list are fiscally sound lessons and a good way to nurture healthy attitudes in general.

“Goals are the first step in achieving what you desire in this world,” Bolin said. “You can create success in any aspect of life -- not just money -- as long as you’re putting a plan in motion.”

Trevor Bolin owns three realty companies in British Columbia, including one in his hometown of Fort St. John, which was named the No. 1 RE/MAX small-density office in the world. He’s also chairman of Bolin & Co. International Training, which offers coaching and seminars for business people. He has served three terms on the Fort St. John City Council.

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