What to say when your kids notice their friends have more -- or less -- money than they do

Kids are always watching.

They might not have a grasp of the intricacies of social class, but you can bet they have noticed that Joey’s family lives in a small apartment instead of a house like most of their friends, or that Marie is always first to have the newest and coolest toys.

And when they ask you why, what are you supposed to say?

“The way I like to frame it is that it’s true that some people have more than everyone else and some people have less than everyone else, and it can be for lots of different reasons,” says New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber.

“Sometimes they get money because their family gives to them, or they have chosen a certain job,” he tells Business Insider. “Some people choose jobs because it’s important to make a lot of money, and some people choose jobs that make them the happiest — and there are jobs that pay a lot of money that can make you really happy.”

Lieber, the author of “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money,” says that the most important thing to emphasise is that “no one has a monopoly on a good time.”

He advises parents explain that both people who have more and people who have less find great ways to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and host playdates and sleepovers. “What’s most important is how generous those friends and families are,” he recommends saying. “How nice they are, how much they help other people out — that’s the most important way to keep score.”

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