Don’t fall into the cash parent trap

Bruce Brammall, The West Australian, 27 August, 2018

credit card in phone


My understanding was that I should have been obscenely rich – an heir to an unearned fortune worth squillions. Piles of gold bigger than Scrooge McDuck’s.

The Brammalls (or Bramalls) of Sheffield, United Kingdom, were apparently wealthy land owners during the time of the city’s peak steel production.

But, alas, an ancestor pulled a Warwick Fairfax and blew the family fortune. He punted the industrial revolution was a passing fad. And my inheritance, bet on black, was lost.

The shame. This was never to be spoken of. By any Brammall. Ever.

Turns out the story was bollocks. The Brammalls were never that wealthy. And, thankfully, not stupid enough to punt against the rise of machinery.

While we have all probably dreamt about it, I’m not sure that the life of a “trustafarian” – one who lives off a family trust fund and has never had to work – would suit me.

I wouldn’t have THIS particular life, which I’m pretty fond of. There’d be no Mrs DebtMan. I wouldn’t have my DebtKids.

What could I teach my kids about money, if I’d never had the opportunity to make my own mistakes, or see smart decisions pay off?

Sadly, money is a near taboo topic in Australia. We’re generally not prepared to talk about it with family or friends. Not how much we earn, nor our net worth.

It’s bizarre, but I reckon we’re actually more likely to confess to money mistakes.

I know plenty who seem happy to talk about some of the stupid stuff they’ve done. We’re prone to whinging about being ripped off. About how much we’ve blown shopping. Complaining, about a restaurant dinner, when “there was no change out of X hundred dollars!” And, for some, about “no matter how much more money I earn, there’s never anything left”.

We moan about the bad stuff. But, with our kids about money, we should be celebrating the smart stuff, the calculated wins.

But not winning punts. Apparently, that’s bad parenting.

Given kids get most of what they learn early in life from their parents via “learned behaviour” – that is, just watching and listening to you – are we doing them a favour by being so financially secretive?

New research from the Financial Planning Association’s research has weighed in, claiming that the simple act of regularly talking to your kids about money will help make them be better, or more confident, with it.

They suggest this might be important for the current generation of kids.

The FPA is trumpeting the current crop of children as the “invisible-money generation”. That is, they rarely see actual money. Almost all transactions they witness during their lives have been electronic – credit and debit cards, online purchases, internet banking, tap-and-go and even payment by phones.

(And online gambling. Sssh. Maybe they didn’t see us sneak into the app.)

But sometimes, seriously, call out rubbish for what it is.

The FPA’s report startlingly “reveals two thirds of Australian parents (66 per cent) believe digital money is making it harder for children to grasp the value of real money … and three in five parents (62 per cent) believe this invisible-money generation will be financially worse off than their own generation”.

OMG. Seriously? Reckon that might have been a push-polling question?

If you believe that, you are now, officially, what you used to refer to as a “fuddy duddy”. That we believe our kids won’t be able to handle money, because it’s all electronic?


They’ll be fine with e-money. They won’t have known anything different.

When we were young, all we had was paper (then polymer) money. We’ve adapted to electronic transactions.

Has it destroyed our ability to manage our money?

I love the fact that I can be in a cab, leaving an airport, and pay the nanny, in a different state, securely, thereby using some “dead” taxi time to achieve something.

Our kids, in a decade’s time, will talk about how quaint it was that their parents thought a piece of polymer held actual real value. And, guffawing, that we were untrustful of electronic transactions!

We’re showing our age. And I’m not ready to be a fuddy duddy. You, however, go and knock yourself out.

I’m ready to talk about successes and failures to my kids. And I’m glad I’m not a trustafarian.

Bruce Brammall is the author of Mortgages Made Easy and is both a financial advisor and mortgage broker. E:

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