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Kids, Money, and Doing Good Great


Devin D. Thorpe

Devin D. Thorpe is champion of social good!

He authors in books about it. He writes columns in Forbes about it. He speaks about it. He leads workshops about it. He delivers it as a Rotarian. And, he broadcasts about it on the four websites he’s created:,, and

It’s Working

Championing good is more than cheering for Thorpe, it is his written word and work.

Among Devin’s book titles are: Crowdfunding for Social Good (2017), Adding Profit by Adding Purpose (2016), 925 Ideas to Help You Save Money (20212), Your Mark on the World (2012), and Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom!

As a Forbes contributor Thorpe has chronicled more than 500 stories on social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

Devin’s dedication to good is paying dividends. His books have been read more than 1 million times and his Forbes columns have been viewed by more than two million unique visitors.

The Journey to Good

Prior to penning his praise for purpose filled human endeavors, Thorpe attained a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Utah and earned an MBA from Cornell University. He

served as a CFO on one of the Inc. 500’s fast growing companies, led an NASD-registered investment bank, was a mortgage broker and taught in Asia as a professor at South China University of Technology.

One of many highlights in Thorpe’s illustrious career was speaking to the United Nations on adding profit by adding purpose.

NOW, it is with great pleasure we share some of Devin Thorpe’s childhood memories and insights on kids and money.

 Learning to Bank Early

Sam X Renick: What is the most important money habit you learned as a child? Please share the story behind how you learned the habit and what impact it has had on you throughout your life.

Devin Thorpe: The most important lesson I learned about money as a child was how to use a bank account. By the age of eight, I had my own savings account and began making deposits and withdrawals. By the time I was ten, I would routinely go to the bank alone to conduct my business. By age twelve, I had a checking account.

Great Parents and Parenting

Renick: At around what age did you realize “money was money” or that it had a value? Please share the circumstances or how the realization came about?

Thorpe: I learned about the value of money at such a young age–thanks to my parents–that I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have money or appreciate its value.  

Related: Kids, Money, Going Beyond Broke and a Burrito

Give. It is a Great Habit

Renick: If you could only teach a child one money habit, WHAT money habit would you teach them? Please explain why.

Thorpe: The one money habit I would teach children is to always allocate some of your money to help others. You may want to give to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple. Perhaps you want to give to an organization that fights climate change and works to protect the environment. Maybe you want to help poor people. Whatever change you want to see in the world, you can give money to help make it happen. Even your little contributions make a difference. More importantly, you will learn to take responsibility for helping to solve the world’s problems. You will be changed by giving.

Honda Hangover

Renick: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?

Thorpe: Buying a car. I bought an old, used Honda 600. (Almost no one remembers that Honda sold cars in the United States before they started selling the Honda Civic and then the Accord. The Honda 600 had a 600cc motorcycle engine in it. It was tiny.) Coincidentally, I paid $600 for it. It ran for 30 days. I sold it for $100 then because I couldn’t afford the repairs. I quickly lost $500.

A Working Education

Renick: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager and why?

Thorpe: The best decision I made as a teenager was to get a job. The lessons we learn from work are easiest to learn at that age. I think people who didn’t work at all before college are at a real disadvantage in life. Working at a fast food place, digging ditches or doing whatever other miserable job that teenagers are often required to do will teach you more about life in 15 hours per week than you can ever learn in school. One of the great lessons you will learn is the value of education. Bosses who make the most money generally have the most education.

Should Do Versus Did Do

Renick: A variety of surveys indicate it is a challenge for parents to talk to kids about money. What would you say are one or two of the primary reasons parents find it difficult to talk personal finance with their children? And, if you have a suggestion on how they can overcome the obstacle, please share that as well.

Thorpe: Parents are reluctant to tell their kids about their own money situation, so this impairs their ability to share advice with their children. Even parents with good money management practices and lots of money in the bank are reluctant to talk about it with their kids. Those who have poor money management skills do no better. One key: you don’t have to tell kids about your finances to teach them how to manage theirs. Tell your kids what they should do–not how you did it or how much money you have.

Related: Kids, Money, Grandpa, Ice Cream and United Way

Unsolved Mystery

Renick: Why do you believe there is not more personal finance being taught in schools? And, do you think personal finance should be taught in schools? Why or why not?

Thorpe: It is tough to guess why personal finance isn’t taught in school. One challenge may be that the best lessons require money, as in, take this $20 to the local credit union and open a savings account. While literally giving every student in the school district $20 sounds prohibitively expensive, it likely isn’t really. But that could be the reason it isn’t taught or isn’t taught effectively.

Personal finance should definitely be taught in school, from kindergarten through 12th grade, every year. The concepts and principles should be basic for kindergartners. They can learn what each coin represents. High schoolers should be learning about the risks and benefits of buying a home, how people qualify for mortgages, how credit reports work, etc.

How Work Works

Renick: Cambridge University research indicates adult money habits are set by age 7? WHAT IF the research is wrong and adult money habits are formed earlier than age seven – perhaps around the age the “give mes” set in? What would this mean for families, schools, and/or the financial education industry?

Thorpe: If the research is wrong, it means that it is important for even the youngest children to learn how work works. The tiniest children should be given simple, age-appropriate chores that are rewarded. Two-year-olds probably can’t understand money but they can understand the value of a treat, time with toys or friends.

Discover more about Devin Thorpe at

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