Peanut Butter and Jelly Management
Tales from Parenthood, Lessons for Managers
By Lea Saslav
Ever Wonder How Top CEO's Teach Their Kids About Money?
Do they know something you don't about nurturing good financial
health in their children--habits that can last a lifetime?
If you have children of your own, you may have a gnawing
feeling that you're supposed to have a plan for teaching your
children about financial health, but, hey, just keeping up
with your kids' homework assignments is hard enough.
Have no fear. No matter what your child's age, it's never
too late to start fostering good money skills early in their
lives. A terrific new book, Peanut Butter and Jelly Management,
written by corporate CEO Chris Komisarjevsky (President and
CEO of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide) and his wife Reina, can
help you do just that. Drawing on stories from their own lives
as parents of six children, ranging in age from 6-12 years
old, the Komisarjevskys show that money management lessons
can be gleaned from parenting skills, while giving readers
tips for applying these lessons to their own families.
Think Tom Peters meets Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
The authors have arranged their book in 19 bite-sized chapters,
easily digestible and evocatively written for a discerning
parental audience. Some good examples include chapters centered
around teaching a child how to ride a bike without training
wheels ("The Courage to Let Go"), building sand castles ("Work
hard, play hard: A Winning Combination"), and apologizing
when wrong ("Acknowledge mistakes, accept responsibility,
and move forward").
But how does a CEO of a global company raise his own kids
to be financially savvy? Chris Komisarjevsky shares his answers
in the following interview with MsMoney.com:
MsMoney.com: How do you deal with allowances when
you have six children ages 6, 7, 8, almost 10, 11, and 12?
Chris Komisarjevsky: I follow five general guidelines:
- Pay each child their age in dollars per week. For
example, a 10 year old gets $10.00 each week.
- Pay each child at the end of each month, not each
week. This teaches the valuable lesson of building savings
over quick gratification.
- Each child keeps two glass jars in his or her room.
One is labeled "college" and the other is labeled "savings."
Once the allowance is received, half of it is immediately
placed in the "college" jar, and the other half goes
in the "savings" jar. This way, they get to go through
the motions of "depositing" their money into savings
and college "accounts."
- The college money is "untouchable."
- Once every 3 or 4 months, we go to the real bank with
the kids. They put their "college" money in their savings
account. Each child has an account of his or her own
and gets to watch the account accrue interest each month.
The idea here is not only to have them contribute to
their own college fund but to teach them that education
is extremely important both to them and to us. They
should be thinking about and planning for it throughout
MsMoney.com: How do your kids handle the remainder
in their "savings" jar?
CK: The concept behind spending the "savings" money
is that we arrange a time when we all go to the store where
they can spend their money. Most of the time we tell them
they can spend $20 or $30 of their money.
If they want to buy something that's more expensive than
what we would normally pay for, we tell them that we will
pay a portion of the price and that they have to pay the
MsMoney.com: For example?
CK: We recently bought skateboard helmets online
for our kids. Turns out helmets average around $20 a piece,
but some models cost more--like $39 or $49 a piece.
So, in this case we would say, "We will pay $20, but if
you want the $49 skateboard helmet, that's your call. You'll
have to pay the additional $29."
This gets the kids to think through the process of "Do I
really want the chrome-colored one which costs $49 or will
the yellow one at $29.95 be okay?"
I asked my son the other day if he wanted to buy the more
expensive, "cooler" helmet, and he said, "No, I'll get the
cheaper one." This happens all the time.
The message of Peanut Butter and Jelly Management
is clear and irrefutable: by nurturing your children early
on with good financial habits, you create the foundation on
which they'll grow up to be financially responsible and healthy
To receive a complete transcript of my interview with Chris
Komisarjevsky, feel free to e-mail me at LASASLAV@aol.com.
Also, keep sending along your questions or suggestions for
topics you'd like to see covered in future articles. I look
forward to hearing from you!