It's book launch week! AAAAAH! 😱🥂🥳
Buddies, in normal times, this is about when I would be sending you invites to ask you to join me at a poncy book launch so we could drink wine together and celebrate the release of my new book baby. And only some of you would be able to be there, because many of you wouldn't be in the same city/free that night/into free wine and snacks, for some reason.
But one of the few upsides of 2020 is that there are no boundaries any more, so you can ALL come join me at my virtual book launch party event. It's happening right now, everywhere, and all the snacks are free (in the sense that you bought them already and they're in your own kitchen).
So here I am, toasting you (with tea, it's 11am after all), saying a huge enormous thank you, a thank you as big as the planet. Your support is why this book exists. Your support is what got me up in the morning and convinced me to write things and helped me believe that writing can actually be a job. Your support is the WIND BENEATH MY DAMN WINGS and I am so hecking grateful for it, every day.
Manage Your Money Like a Grownup, the fully "mouth-washed-out-with-soap" version of my money book, is now available at your favourite bookstore. It's aimed at 11-15 year olds but I hope some younger kids and some playful adults love it too. The brilliant Angela Briggs helped me to write it, Nanna Venter created a stack of brand new illustrations to bring it to life, and my wonderful publishers Jonathan Ball are the reason it exists. It's full of fun facts and fart jokes, because it turns out that I have the same sense of humour as a 12-year-old boy.
In the tradition of book launch Q&As, here's me chatting to Diana Granoux about why talking honestly to teens about money is so important, creating a thoughtful money culture in your home, and encouraging teens to start small businesses.
And, JUST FOR YOU, I've included the whole first chapter for you below.
One of the very weird things about launching this book from the opposite side of the world is that I have yet to actually hold a copy in my hands 😭 So if you spot a book, please please send me a snap!
Thanks for coming to my virtual book launch, buddies. I'm so glad and grateful that you're here.
Wishing you celebratory wine, tea, or your beverage of choice,
Chapter 1: This Book is For You
YOUR DREAMS MATTER
This book is about freedom. Yes, yes, I know it says on the cover that it’s about money, but that’s just a decoy to bamboozle the adults. (Did it work? In my experience, adults are EASILY BAMBOOZLED.) Really, what I want to talk to you about is how to live the life you actually want to live, not the life that the world wants to force you into.
I bet you have some big dreams for your life. Maybe something like one of these?
- Skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing your way through the wildest wild places on earth
- Making art, or music, or movies that people talk about for years
- Saving the world through work or activism that improves the fate of people, animals and the planet
- Buying a parent/guardian the house they’ve always wanted, so they can live in the comfort they deserve
- Becoming a sports star or athlete at the top of their game
- Having a huge circle of friends who go on adventures together all around the world
- Being a celebrity Twitch streamer or YouTuber who gets to share their obsessions with their fans
- Having a big family and lots of time to spend with them
- Inventing something or starting a company that solves one of the world’s big problems
- Becoming a master chef and wowing the world with your delicious creations
- Studying all sorts of different things that interest you
- Living a humble life in nature without stress or worry.
Now let me ask you a question: how many of the adults you know seem to be living the lives that they dreamt of when they were your age? Or rather, how many of them seem to hate their jobs? Have you ever thought about why that happens: why so many kids with big dreams grow up into adults who feel trapped?
The reality is, anything you want to do with your life costs money. It costs money to support the people you love. It costs money to have enough free time to practise the sport or art you love until you get good at it. It costs money to start a business or go on adventures or buy an instrument. It also costs money to do more basic things like buy food to stay alive!
If you don’t work out how to control your money, you end up spending your whole adult life just trying to make money and never actually enjoying the life you are living. Money ends up controlling you.
Have you ever started dreaming about what you want your life to look like, only to find yourself feeling a bit unsure about it all? Your dreams are just great – you start feeling yourself rise and rise like you are on a hot air balloon ride over a game park, drifting into the sunset – BUT then when you think about how to make this all happen, you’re suddenly back on Earth (with a bump)?
This book’s about how to keep the gas turned on, and the hot air balloon rising.
The better you understand how money works, the more you can use it as a tool to get the life you really want. When you’re not in control of money, any money that comes into your life leaves it very quickly, which means that you have to spend a lot of time thinking about how to earn more of it, every day. The funny thing is that the best way to NOT have to think about money a lot is to understand it very well. Understanding money means you don’t have to stress about it, so you can rather think about more fun things.
(Like, if you invented time travel and went back 200 years, how would you convince them that you ARE from the future without getting burned as a witch?)
So, this book is for you, even if you don’t care about getting rich. This book is about how to better your chances of living the life YOU want to live, rather than just having to do any job that will pay you money. This book is for you if you’ve ever worried that there might be a bit of a gap between your future dreams and being ‘practical’. And, if you’ve decided not to think about money/growing up/ saving because it all looks a bit boring, and you’d rather be having fun, this book is for you too.
Because really, this isn’t a book about money at all. It’s a book about freedom.
Have a chat with your parents or guardians about their jobs. What did they dream of becoming when they grew up? What do they like about their jobs now? What don’t they like? How did they end up doing what they do?
But wait! How rude of me. Let me introduce myself: my name’s Sam. And this is my cat, Digby. Digby doesn’t know much about money because he pays rent in furballs. But he’s cute, anyway, so I told him he could help write this book.
When I was a kid, the thing I really wanted to do with my life was write books, because I love books more than anything (okay fine, except Digby). But there was just one problem: I had no idea how to go about actually doing that! Writing books isn’t a job that someone will give you and pay you a salary to do. And I was REALLY BAD at managing money (but very good at spending it) so I ended up spending my 20s doing a bunch of really weird jobs, including dressing up like the Easter Bunny, handing out pamphlets at robots and writing letters on behalf of Ronald McDonald (no, really). Eventually I realised that no one was going to give me the job I wanted, so I was going to have to invent it for myself – which meant figuring out how money works.
So, I went and learnt everything I could learn about money. I even got myself a job in the finance industry so that I could learn about it from the inside. And I learnt a SHOCKING SECRET . . . dun dun duuuuun . . . money is actually really easy to understand!
I was really irritated when I learnt this, because I thought, Why did no one teach me how money works when I was young, so that I could be much further ahead by now? Because it really IS simple. You’ll see.
Ever since then I’ve made it my mission to share this secret with everyone I know. My friends started avoiding me because I just wanted to tell them about money all the time. So that’s why I’m turning to you, a fresh new audience to pelt with money facts!
But also, I wrote this book because I want you to get a head start and not have to spend your 20s pretending to be a fast-food mascot like I did.
I wrote this book especially for kids up to about 14, because if you’re older than that you can probably just read the other book I wrote for adults (it has much more swearing in it, sorry! I need my mouth washed out with soap). But if you’re reading this at 18 or 48, no problem. I read kids’ books too! (John Green is pretty much my favourite writer and I will FIGHT anyone who says a bad thing about him.) Just enjoy. You’ll be able to skip some of the chapters when you DO read my other book. Or maybe you’re one of those really precocious six- year-olds like the ones from MasterChef, in which case, hello to you too!
Whoever you are, I’m really glad you’re here. And I hope we can be friends.
TOO YOUNG? SAYS WhO?!
This book gives you the nuts-and-bolts low-down on one of the things that dominates most people’s lives: money. Because believe me, it can dominate lives, no matter what kind of family you’re from.
Maybe your family seems to have a lot of it, and there’s no stress and it seems like there’s a solid plan. Maybe your family struggles a bit, but holds it together. Maybe it seems like quite a big problem, one you’d rather not know anything about. Just another one of those adult problems that seems a lifetime away.
You know you’re young. I know you’re young. But I promise you, this is stuff you want to know now. Here’s why.
a) Good habits
The ideas and habits that you pick up at this stage in your life will shape you forever. Sure, you’re probably not going to earn HUGE amounts of cash in your teen years (unless you’re a kid celebrity or something), but it’s still the best time to learn how to earn, spend and save money well. The good habits you need to manage a R100 birthday present today are the same habits that you’ll need one day to manage the R1 million you’ll earn one day. (Probably even more than R1 million, actually. We’ll get to that in a minute.) It’s like practising any sport or spending time on any passion – the hours you put in now will lay the foundation for success later.
It’s like how people who grow up to be amazing athletes or artists start training when they’re young. Serena Williams, the best tennis player in the world, started training when she was three years old. She said:
When I was a kid I trained really, really, really hard. And I think that’s so important for kids out there that want to grow up and be the best. Ask any professional player. You train really hard. You train for hours. I remember in the summer, we would train from, I think it was from like 9:00 to 11:00 and then 1:00 to 6:00. And then on Saturdays, we would train from 9:00 to 12:00. And then we would have Sundays off. So we trained a lot. We practiced hours and hours and hours. And obviously when you get older, you don’t practice as much, but you’re building a really strong foundation when you’re younger so you can have a solid foundation that doesn’t shake when you get old.
b) The best time to make mistakes
In Chapter 6 we’ll be looking at how developing your entrepreneurial skills (aka your side-hustle) can bring you in some extra cash. One of the key things entrepreneurs say about starting a business as a kid is that it gives you the chance to make lots of mistakes while you still have the safety net of your home and family looking after you and supporting you (and you don’t have to worry about buying food for your idiot cat). It’s an idea you can apply to all of this money information – that the best time to start learning is now – because the best learning often happens when you make mistakes. And NOW is the time to make mistakes, my friends!
c) Your chance to prove everyone wrong
Some people say kids are pretty bad at understanding the value of delayed gratification. In other words, put a marshmallow in front of a child (or a 33-year-old woman named Sam), and tell them that, if they can resist eating the marshmallow for ten minutes, they can have two marshmallows. The general consensus is: many of those children or Sams would eat the marshmallow now, because one marshmallow now is worth twice as much as a hypothetical future marsh- mallow (you can watch videos of this experiment on YouTube, if you like watching kids give in to temptation).
This is where you need to prove everyone wrong. ‘Delaying gratification’ is something you’re going to have to learn to do. But it’s going to be easy for you. Because you’re going to LOVE saving those marshmallows, and watching them grow into more marshmallow babies. Promise.
d) Money loves time
Warren Buffet is the fourth richest person in the world (he has about $88 billion, and he’s working on giving 99% of it away to charity). He didn’t get rich by inventing something or robbing a bank, but because he was really good at investing money. Warren Buffet tells everyone that the most important trick to investing is patience, because of a magical thing called compound interest (which you’ll learn about in Chapter 3), so the best way to invest is to start as early as possible. He should know: he started investing when he was 11 years old.
MONEY IS A RESPONSIBILITY
The other reason that it’s really important to learn how to manage money is that you’re probably going to have to manage a LOT of it over your lifetime.
We think of millionaires as being people who’ve really made it. But most of us will earn a lot more than a million rand over our lifetimes. If you start working at age 20 and you work until you’re 65, that means you’ll be working for 45 years. That’s nearly half a century! This means that, even if you don’t earn a very big salary, you’re still earning a lot of money over your whole lifetime.
Looking after all that money is a lot of responsibility! There’s so much you could do with it. You could use it to make life better for yourself, the people you love and the world around you. That money could be happiness fuel. But if you don’t learn how to manage it well, that money won’t make ANYONE happy, and wouldn’t that be a waste?
WHAT THIS BOOK WILL COVER
This book is broken up into three parts: understanding money, making money and managing money.
The sooner you start to figure out how money and you fit together in this world, the sooner you’ll be able to feel comfortable about a whole lot of things that go along with money. So, Part 1 is a crash course about how money works. We’ll cover:
- In Chapter 2: Why different families have such different experiences with money, and why your folks might have more or less money to spend on you than your friends’ folks.
- In Chapter 3: How people get wealthy. We’ll spend a lot of time in this chapter talking about the weirdest and most magical thing money does (compound interest).
- In Chapter 4: Understanding the systems that make some people poor, and thinking about where you fit into the bigger picture.
You can’t practise managing money until you’ve got some, so Part 2 is all about making that dough. We’ll talk about:
- In Chapter 5: The pros and cons of getting an allowance, and how to understand your folks’ reasons for giving you the amount of money that they do.
- In Chapter 6: What you can do to make yourself more money, including learning how to be a CRIMINAL MASTERMIND/genius kid entrepreneur.
- In Chapter 7: How to start thinking about the type of career you want to have one day.
In Part 3, we get practical and talk about the basics of spending and saving. We’ll cover:
- In Chapter 8: Setting up a system that directs your money to where you want it to go.
- In Chapter 9: Saving for the things you REALLY want (maybe a Switch? iPad? Robot giraffe?) and how to start investing.
- In Chapter 10: Outwitting advertisers and being a savvier spender. How to avoid that feeling you get after spending your allowance on the perfect pair of jeans (the jeans that don’t seem so perfect any more once you get home).
- In Chapter 11: Using your money as a force for good in the world, including giving to charity and being an ethical consumer.
There’s a website that goes along with this book, at manageyourmoneylikeagrownup.com. On it, you’ll find tools, tips and useful things to download (plus, you can see what Digby looks like in real life).
- Understanding how money works is one of the best ways you can make sure you live the life YOU really want to live.
- We all pick up beliefs about money from our families and friends. But sometimes these beliefs aren’t true, or aren’t helpful for us.
- It’s not too young to start earning, saving and investing your money. In fact, now’s the best time to learn good habits and take big risks.
You ready? Let’s go!