Difference Between an Asset and a Liability
Assets put money in your pocket. Think of a rental property, a business, a skill. A Liability is something that takes money out of your pocket (that is why your primary house is a liability) Credit Cards, your home, your car are all liabilities. Explain this in children’s terms using their allowance. Most kids will just buy liabilities. Candy, games, etc. But open their minds a bit. Have them save to buy a rake and then use that rake to rake yards in the neighborhood for a profit. Or buy business cards to pass out where they can pet sit. The rake and the business cards are assets for children because they are vehicles for them to make more money.
With my kids when they were little we would go pick up golf balls from the course and sell it the next day to the golfers for $1 a ball and $5 for the nice golf balls. My kids were easily making $100 a day. Those golf balls were producing a profit for them far greater than their allowance for picking up their room.
Explain why it is so important to have so many assets under your ownership
When they start seeing profitability from one of their assets explain to them they can have another one. Show them the more assets they have the more opportunity they have to make money. This is diversifying your assets. For example, if they buy a rake to rake leaves their profits will be highest in the fall and non-existent in the winter, so they need multiple assets, so they can withstand the highs and lows.
Cash Flow vs Capital Gains
This is a tough one to teach kids, for adults we understand this. We know if you try and flip a house or sell an asset that is it very risky. For one, you have to try and time the market perfectly and second you pay the highest tax rate even if you do so successfully. I believe it is like gambling, you may win one hand, but will eventually lose it all on red. This is a bit over a child’s head. Capital gains, tax, etc. What I don’t think is over their head is cash flow. So for this lesson, have them take their business and create a recurring revenue around it. For example, if they pet-sit for $15 an hour, tell their clients there is a $10 monthly fee to be able to book services at that price. If not, it is $25 an hour. Explain to their customers what you are trying to teach them. If you can show your kids a monthly cash flow that comes in without them having to go and find more business I think that is a great groundwork for the cashflow vs capital gains conversation later on when they are older.