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The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,121 ratings  ·  760 reviews
From aNew York Timesfinancial writer, and Your Money columnist, comes a generational manifesto about shattering the taboos around talking about money with kids. This provocative parenting book aims to help our children make better decisions, develop better habits, and have the tools theyll need to grow into grounded young adults with good values and financial habits that a ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Harper (first published February 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Steve Peifer
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
When you hear the uninspiring story of someone who lives in a 2 million dollar house who downsizes to a 1 million dollar house to display their social conscience, my response wants to be 'Good for them' but I'm afraid I struggled not to throw up in my mouth. I love the idea of this book, and talking to your children about financial reality is a good idea, but perhaps it is geared to the 1%, of which I am not a member. Let me quote: 'They've grown wealthy through long hours spent over two decades ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Well-meaning and possessing an interesting core discussion on the importance of raising children that are generous and primed to be financially intelligent adults, it nonetheless is overly padded with distracting anecdotes that read like "rich people's problems" that make the whole read seem superficial and frustrating.

I purchased this book following an interview that the author, Ron Lieber, gave on Inside the New York Times Book Review podcast. It was a very good interview with just enough to h
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You take a bit of a gamble when you read a book that covers the topic of raising children when yours are already in high school. You can hope that the book suggests the best way is the way you did it. Because otherwise, it’s likely too late – dealing with spoiled children obviously should start early. But in this case, “The Opposite of Spoiled” does focus on issues that can occur at different ages, including for kids nearing college. For younger kids, there’s discussion about dealing with kids’ ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Did you ask a good question today?" Praise children for asking good questions and give straight answers so they will trust you.

When asked a question by children, first respond "why do you ask?" They may not be thinking what you are thinking, and it buys you time.

Fun ratio - hours of fun per dollar spent
More-good/Less-harm rule for needs

Kids are on a quest for dignity, feelings of self-worth often rise and fall on constantly shifting standards around the possessions and experiences that matter
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(I received a galley of this from the publisher)

After reading the piece Ron Lieber did on the times about this very subject (here), I was intrigued about the book. While most of the information in this book won't apply to my child for a few more years, it was still good to get the seed planted.

Like many Chinese, I grew up in a family where money was talked about a lot, so I couldn't really relate to some of the families in this book. I still found it informational though, because the taboo abou
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a one-day read for me. The book was easy to read, but the topic is something we discuss in our household without reaching any easy answers. When kids are raised in a household that wants for very little, how do we teach them to be grateful for this abundance? How do we start teaching kids financial literacy? Kids are naturally curious and this book gives great advice about tackling questions related to poverty, charity, salaries, expenses, budgets, and decision-making. I'll be re-readin ...more
Christopher Lawson
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
√ Practical, Lots of Good Ideas

THE OPPOSITE OF SPOILED is an extensive investigation into why kids are spoiled--and more importantly, what we can do to avoid that mistake.

There are lots of practical tips, interviews, and stories from families that have tried different methods to make your kids
value work and spend their money wisely. For example, the author gives an example of one family that calculates the most fun per dollar spent on their recreation. The whole family gets together and discus
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Concise, Clear, Concrete. Those are the adjectives that make a good parenting book for me. Presumably parents don't have a ton of time to read about parenting, so having a book that's on the spare side is a plus. This book loses a little bit on the clarity point. Lieber doesn't seem a hundred percent sold on his concept. He's written a book that tries to address all social strata, but doesn't do so evenly--the book is definitely more geared toward the wealthy. On concrete, there wasn't actually ...more
Kate Schwarz
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated Lieber's thoughtful and intelligent book about how to raise kids who are thoughtful and intelligent about money. Major take-aways for me included:

- Be honest about finances (your own, your family's and other people's financial situations) with your kids.
- While it's easier to say "we can't buy that" it's usually more honest to say but more difficult to say "we won't buy that" -- explaining why that purchase doesn't align with your family's values takes time but teaches invaluable
Charissa Wilkinson
I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads Program for the purpose of a fair review.

Overview: Mr. Lieber has his reputation for being a money man for the New York Times. How much help will this be when it comes to talking to children about money? Let’s find out, shall we?

Likes: It’s a good idea to keep your children’s allowance free from being tied to their chores, but it should be tied to something. My suggestion is to tie it to their self-control. They will work at it then. Some
Jun 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Really disappointing, as I read Lieber's column occasionally and had high hopes. Unfortunately, nothing new here. I have kids in elementary school, but the book not only didn’t offer anything interesting, it had some cringe-worthy moments.

Lieber seems out of his element. He doesn’t appear to understand the social issues around poverty and is instead revealing his own privilege in describing the world through his lens, a distorted view:

p. 14 “..there’s no shame in having more or having less, as l
Wainwright Yu
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. Good mix of inspiration and practical advice. Tried some of the more age-appropriate suggestions with my 3 year old and its producing results! He now understands when he can't buy an 8 dollar toy car when he only has 3 dollars in his jar. Plus, if he goes to a store and doesn't buy anything, he gets an extra dollar as a bonus for saving his money. My son still ends up breaking the bank every so often but it's super cool to see him make his own money decisions. ...more
Erin Goettsch
Apr 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a very hesitant 3 stars - while I liked the ideas in this book (some of them are really excellent), I did not actually like reading it. Whoa dang the smug writing is hard to stomach. Why so smug? Just say your ideas, dude. They're good. You don't have to be an ass about it. ...more
Thomas Kidd
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Quick yet tedious read. Summary - parents tell your kids "no" and make them work instead of letting them sit inside playing video games. Common sense to most of us, or is it? ...more
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The subtitle is really the key to this book: this is about everything having to do with money and raising kids to be smart about it: from being honest about how much you make (and other financial matters) to learning to save, spend wisely, and give. Raising kids who aren't spoiled isn't a main objective so much as a side result of helping them to be wise about money. Note that it really isn't about ways for lower inco
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
First, to be nit-picky, this book could have benefitted from better editing - both with details (too many sentences starting with "so"!) and the bigger picture. Second/however, I cannot justify giving it a lower rating, because the book raises and discusses issues that are too often overlooked in our society, or seem so overwhelming that no one wishes to ever address them in any meaningful way. While the author's writing style can be a bit annoying, the book does contain many interesting anecdot ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Being a parent is tough. It's literally the most rewarding thing a person can do, but there is no instruction manual. The thing you learn early on is that everyone is just winging it. Your parents, your grandparents, Adam, Eve, Noah. Winging it, every last one of them. The problem with that is you second-guess yourself constantly. Am I doing this well? Am I taking short-cuts? And the truth is, you'll never know for sure until it's too late, and you're either attending your kid's Ivy League gradu ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
I don’t read many parenting books anymore and the ones I do read tend to revolve around specific issues, like how to talk to your kids about money. This had a lot of good thoughts and practical ideas, a few of which my husband and I have already started implementing. However, where it fell short for me was that many, many of the examples are from very privileged, highly educated families. It feels like a book directed at the most wealthy families, even though he makes a point of saying that the ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
The most helpful advice in this book can be found in the chapter about allowance (chapter 3). Lieber argues for the "allowance not tied to chores" approach. While 89% of families make allowance contingent on chores, he believes that children ought to do chores "for the same reason we do--because the chores need to be done, and not with the expectation of compensation" (p. 46). His case is compelling, and after talking with my husband, we think it's worth a try. We really like the idea that allow ...more
Heather Moore
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This book was exactly what I’d hoped it be. It provides practical advice on teaching children to handle money, including why allowance is important (money is a teaching tool and practice during childhood is important in order to succeed with whatever your income in adulthood). I’ll admit to being a complete failure in this department with my 12 year old, but no more. We have a plan and she’s thrilled with her newfound financial freedom. Also, this book was great on audio as it’s loaded with anec ...more
Renae Rockwood
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book as a collection of stories and best practices used by parents who have raised grounded children. I wish that the best practices had been simplified and there had been a clear summary of the lessons learned, but I appreciated it for what it was.
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, a really excellent book, one of the best I’ve read so far in both genres: parenting and personal finance. Takes a big-picture, values-centered approach with enough specific examples and suggestions to be concretely useful. My daughter is a bit too young for most of the practical ideas, so I’d probably like to read again in a few years. One of the only personal finance books I’ve read that didn’t make me despair at the amorality.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good primer on financial education for kids and as parents. It's very detailed and tackles every possible topic. Very aspirational read for a parent, who wants to role model the right kind of values with respect to money. The book is quite action oriented and presents a wide-range of well-researched and evidence-based ideas that you can choose to adapt. While it's obviously written for a US audience, there are broad lessons one can glean and apply to your unique situation / context. Highl ...more
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: money, parenting
I grew up in a home where we just didn't talk about money. I knew it was tight, and it was the reason why we could or couldn't do things, but that's the extent of it. My parents *still* don't discuss money with me. It feels so weird and counter-intuitive, especially since money makes up a big part of our daily lives as we mature into adulthood - we get a job so we can afford our lifestyle, whatever the lifestyle we choose. This book gave me great ideas on how to approach these conversations with ...more
Ali M
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Ron's book and it has already provoked some very thoughtful discussions with my husband about how we talk to our kids about finances. Based on the stories and the suggestions in the books we are going to make some changes to how we handle our family economy. We will still tie allowance to chores (or requirements as they are called in our house) as I did not find his argument at all convincing that the two should not be linked. We will however allow freer access to the money they do ear ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book is written like a newspaper article. It explains, through example, how other people raise their kids in regards to money.

It follows this recipe:

Any money that Kevin, John Smith's son from Sacramento, California, put into the savings jar he would match by 50%. This teaches Kevin the way that 401(k) savings plans work.

I prefer books that state a critical thought and then point examples of how this though was reached. That is how I prefer my non-fiction. This book does not do that.
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Although I do not have any children, and may never have, I have read a fair number of books on the subject of children and money. This is by far the best. Lieber explores so many issues and questions about money and really had me thinking about how I as an adult use my money and what that says about my values. Lots of cute, and sometimes embarrassing, stories liven up the themes discussed and make it a fun, quick read as well.
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The concepts in the book are insightful but honestly it all could have been condensed into a blog post. Nevertheless we are following the author's recommendations by dividing our allowance into giving saving and spending. When my daughter blew all her spending money on junk from the Ren fair I smiled and let her buyers remorse set in. The negotiations about what she is actually saving for has been priceless. ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good and very practical, a little heavy on the charitable giving side. I realize that makes me sound like an ass.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, 2017
This has been a big topic of discussion in our household lately as we're beginning to consider the idea of allowances. I appreciate this book's take on the subject, particularly not tying allowances to the completion of chores. Chores are separate, something kids need to do around the house because they are contributing members of this little community, not because they have an expectation of compensation. This also negates the bargaining of skipping chores if they're fine with not earning money ...more
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“Spoiled children tend to have four primary things in common, though they don’t all have to be present at once: They have few chores or other responsibilities, there aren’t many rules that govern their behavior or schedules, parents and others lavish them with time and assistance, and they have a lot of material possessions.” 2 likes
“But Matthiesen hit on the concept of return on investment, though she didn’t call it that. Instead, she asked her kids to estimate the hours of fun per dollar that any particular Want of theirs might provide.” 1 likes
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