The New York Times recently ran an article entitled, "Why Men Want to Marry Melanies and Raise Ivankas." Though I take issue with the fact that the Times identified this as a peculiar phenomenon in the Republican party, I believe the primary points of the article reflect an important reality. Wealth-minded individuals will tend to raise their daughters to over-index on marketplace value. They will tend to raise daughters who are willing to take on greater risk via entrepreneurial activity. At the same time, those daughters will struggle to find spouses who want to support their entrepreneurial activities by staying home with children.
Because of this, I believe it's important to emphasize several lessons for my daughter that I won't emphasize in the same way to my son. (I should say, I want to teach my son these things too so that he has a greater respect for women generally and a future wife in particular).
This is a letter that I've written to her. Lest you accuse me of having favorites, I'll write one for my son too. And other children in the future.
Dear Shirley, Embrace Rising Opportunity Costs
I've seen many women who want kids make choices that stunt their career and entrepreneurial growth before they even have kids. While I applaud those women who reject high cost formal schooling when their deepest desire is to be a mom, I don't think any woman should ever cut her education short.
Shirley, Do not be afraid of developing valuable marketplace skills. Work to understand career and entrepreneurial advancement. This will certainly raise your opportunity cost of dropping out of the workplace if you choose to do so, but you should not artificially stunt your economic value. I hope that you develop tremendous marketplace value in your lifetime.
Dollars measure price not value
Shirley, even if you never make much money in the marketplace, I want you to understand your value. Too many people confuse dollars with value. Dollars measure the price or the cost, but not the value. To be fair, you could translate value into dollars to satisfy your mom and other economists, but you don't have to.
If you face a situation where you're giving up a lot of dollars to gain something of even greater value, feel free to do it. When you were a baby, I stopped working a six figure job because Dad and I deemed that it was more valuable for me to stay home with kids.
You don't have to make the same choices that I made, but you should factor in your own sense of value when you make big decisions.
Marry a man with excellent character
"A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1
I hope beyond all hope that you grow up to be a woman of excellent character. It's something that we pray for every night. We also pray that if you get married that you'll marry someone with excellent character.
You might think that I've gone a little off base in this letter. That I'm supposed to be writing about wealth lessons. But I am writing about wealth lessons. A good name is worth more than great riches. The value always exceeds the price tag.
I don't want you to date underearners, but character is more important.
Gain the skills to be the Chief Investment Officer in your life
One thing that I hope that I've taught you is how to invest. I hope that you've seen how cash flow real estate works, how flipping a house works, how stock market (or at least index fund) investing works.
In the world that I'm writing, investment salespeople (especially real estate agents) talk down to women and stroke mens egos. I want you to have the skills that you need to the chief investment officer in your life. If you get married, I want your husband to look at you in the middle of sales pitch and say, "What do you think?"
Invest for the long term, and prepare your heart and your character for becoming too rich one day.
Your response to failure matters
On the journey to building wealth, your response to failure matters. When I survey the internet today, I see that we praise people who become rich quickly. We praise those with business successes that launch them to millionaire status by 25. We praise those who earn high incomes and save aggressively.
Shirley, the formula for wealth is simple.
Wealth= (Income- Expenses)*(Rate of Return)^(Time)
However, life is not simple. It's full of unplanned twists and turns. You will fail. Failure indicates nothing. It is your response to failure that matters the most.
I love you Shirley!
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.