We're posing this very question to many people...finance types, entrepreneurs, journalists, politicians, academics, and many others, including a debt collector.
First up is Bikash Mathur
Born in India, educated in the US and working in London. He has two teenage children.
I have friends whose kids have always travelled first class, and have never turned right from the door of an airplane....in fact, once when one of them accidentally walked into coach, he came running back and asked me "Bikash, why are the televisions so small in the seats back there?"
Kids take things for granted, when they grow up with or without money, the one thing they never ask is where it came from, how much of it's there and when will it run out?
So, imagine telling them that it's earned and not inherited, imagine for a moment that you have to tell them, that in reality, they are unlikely to create more assets than their parents or their grandparents did.....in all likelihood, they will lead a better lifestyle but end up with more liabilities than assets. This will happen as a direct result of starting life after college with a lifestyle beyond their reach and with a sincere hope that they will quickly climb the career and wealth ladder and in the misplaced confidence that any early credit pileups will be comfortably offset and they will generate a huge surplus by their mid forties.
The one thing we fail to tell them is that, if you start at a scorching pace of spending, buying and investing....that no amount of salary will ever compensate for the principal and interest on that outflow. Fact of the matter is, that kids don't understand compound interest until it's too late, and by then it's too late for them to start a business and create genuine wealth.
So, the one thing you can teach them is value. You can remind them every so often that money begets money and bullshit walks, other than that, leave them some kind of inheritance from their grandparents as a nice starter kit...and please don't tell them how much you have and once in a while let them know that flying first class at 75 with their mother and dying broke is what you've worked so hard for. I maybe conservative, but, I still believe you can't teach them to be hungry for success, but you can show them!