The Great Thanksgiving Listen:  Passing Down Wealth in the Form of Stories

At Savvy Parents, we strive to help families build wealth and develop financial security.  We often think about wealth in strictly financial terms.  But real wealth is never measured in dollar signs.  It’s measured in strong values and inner happiness, which our families play a crucial role in fostering.

A great way to cultivate this type of wealth in your children is to expose them to the stories and experiences of older generations.  Lessons from grandparents (and surrogate grandparents) can teach children about integrity, compassion, hard work, and even the consequences of poor decisions.

Thanksgiving family gatherings are the perfect time to share these lessons, and an initiative called The Great Thanksgiving Listen is the perfect way to do it.  The Great Thanksgiving Listen is the creation of StoryCorps, a nonprofit with a mission to “capture the extraordinary stories and experiences of ordinary people.”  The Thanksgiving initative provides a special opportunity to strengthen family bonds, share life lessons, and save your family’s oral history for generations to come.

And the best part:  It’s the perfect activity for kids.  The free StoryCorp App makes it incredibly easy for kids to interview relatives and record their conversations.  If your child can read and use a smartphone (and what kid can’t these days?) they’re off to the races!  The App includes a recording device and even provides a list of questions to ask.  You can add your own questions to tailor it to your family members’ unique experiences.  And there’s an option to file the recordings at the Library of Congress!

There are a list of questions in the StoryCorps App and on the Great Thanksgiving Listen website.  Below are a few more ideas for questions that can incorporate lessons about hard work and financial responsibility:

How was life different when you were a child from how it is now?

Did you have to do chores?

Was there ever a time when you struggled in school?

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

What was your first job?

How did you end up being a (job person end up with)?

Did you like your job?

When did you buy your first home?  Where did you get the money for it?

Did you ever give money to a charitable cause?

What is your favorite charity?   Why?

So this Thanksgiving, set your kids up with the StoryCorps App and watch them connect with your parents and other older friends and relatives.  In addition to strengthening family bonds and learning life lessons, your kids will get a history lesson they’ll never forget.  At the end of the weekend, your family’s wealth will have grown exponentially – without increasing by a dime.  That’s something to be thankful for.

About the Author

Shannon McNulty

Shannon McNulty is the founder of The Savvy Parents Group and a lawyer in New York City who provides legal planning for parents with young children. Shannon received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her LL.M. in Taxation from NYU School of Law. She has also earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) designation. You can learn more about Shannon and her firm at www.mcnulty-law.com.

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