Posted almost 2 years ago

I’m Teaching My Kids to Cheat

I’m teaching my daughters, ages 10 & 13, key skills. I make sure they do their homework and encourage them in sports. Since I’m a good mom, I’m also teaching them to cheat. I’m teaching them skills to get ahead that anyone else would say, “That’s not fair, I never even had a chance to learn that!”

As an investor in real estate, and a parent, I have an unfair advantage. My kids can actually watch me work. When my engineer husband takes the kids to work with him, they don’t learn how to be engineers. (“But Dad, you just sit all day and type.”) Investing in and managing real estate can happen at home, over time, is audience friendly, and can be taught to young apprentices.

It starts by inviting your kids to the table. When talk turns to business, don’t ask the kids leave. Instead, invite them to participate. If possible, when I meet with a realtor, a property manager, or visit a property, I bring my kids. I teach them to look people in the eye, to shake their hands, to ask questions. Think they’d be bored? Only if you treat them like audience members instead of participants. It’s amazing to see the pride and interest light up in their eyes when you ask what they see, or what they would decide. I’ve been delighted with the insights my two daughters have shared when asked their opinion. Yep, this even means having them watch as a deal goes sideways.

Second, you’ve got to share the numbers. Get over it. On Bigger Pockets people share the specifics of their deal but would be afraid to share that level of detail with their kids. Why? They’re worried about privacy. Worried the kids will blab it to their friends. Just start small. Share a few numbers, and remind them the privilege of knowing the numbers means they need to keep it quiet. Then expand to more numbers when they’re ready. I think you’ll find they’re happy to learn to be private with the numbers for a chance to be privy to the information.

Get transparent. Narrate what you see, what you think, what you do and why. Tease out the lesson and make it hit home. Notice when a tenant has paid their rent late and talk about what that means. Discuss the unexpected repair cost and then discuss the reserve fund you have set aside so that the unplanned expenditure is just part of business instead of a painful event.

Now involve the kids. I started by bringing the kids along. They’ve helped select properties to buy. They’ve done make-ready repairs and cleaning. Then they graduated to doing my QuickBooks and being partial investors in some of my properties. It’s amazing how well they learn the lessons when they have skin in the game.

I’m teaching my kids to cheat. They’ve learned to start the race before the start gun ever goes off. The list of unfair advantages they have is growing daily.

My kids are helping me cheat too. They give me a powerful answer to the question of why am I doing this. Not just so I can present a financially strong future to them on a silver platter but rather so that they are ready to launch from the nest and be financially independent from me!

Join me in teaching your children valuable life skills, including how to cheat. Please share in the comments what you have taught your children that will give them an edge in life.

Comments (37)

  1. Tiny 1465997320 avatar kristar2

    @Natasha Keck Your perspective on involving your kids is fantastic!  I remember when my middle son, 12 at the time, helped me rehab a new rental we had purchased as his homeschool curriculum for the month!  He went on to take an electrical class and has changed light fixtures and outlets for me both at home and on our property.  Fast forward 6 years, he is leaving the nest to move to the Los Angeles area for college and is hoping to find a PM company that he can work for and possibly find an opportunity to live in and manage some apartments in the next year or so.  I wish someone had told me at his age the benefits of house-hacking...cannot imagine how things would look if we had!  My other 2 sons are also involved and have earned income for maintenance and repairs done.  They hear how excited I am about investing in real estate and they've all read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"!  They're all going to be part of my business someday in some capacity or another.  So grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow that BP and this community provides!

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      @Krista Roodzant You have lucky sons!  I agree.  If only I'd known about house hacking when I was younger.  At least we can give that gift to our kids.  Nothing like some good ole fashioned hard work (property maintenance) to also teach a few lessons.

  2. Tiny 1431106854 avatar tomc2

    Great article, @Natasha Keck!  I have a 15 year old and have taken him to one all day training class, talking about what I am doing marketing wise, sharing the numbers, looking forward to taking him on appointments with me as time permits.

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      @Tom CooperFifteen is such a great age to learn.  I love that you're including him in both training, and your day-to-day appointments.

  3. Tiny 1469838234 avatar aaront20

    One of my biggest reasons for investing in real estate is my 2 sons.  I started taking my oldest (4) to open houses with me and he really enjoys it.  I am hoping that they will get excited about it when they are old enough to act on it!

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      What a wonderful thing to share with your son!  Hopefully you also share your internal dialog about the house with him.  Non-investors walk through a house and see pretty furniture (nice staging), but an investor walks through a house with different eyes.  Help him see the opportunities than an ugly house presents.  Thanks for sharing your real estate passion with your kids.

  4. Tiny 1457295941 avatar bobm39

    Great Article!! Thank you!! My wife and I have taken our 5 year old out driving for dollars. She also comes into my office regularly while I'm working on the finances of our business. I really try to make it a point to give her a little bit of insight into what I'm doing. She always asks what I'm working on. I've made a conscious decision that I will let her see if she thinks it's boring or not. Sometimes we just assume that kids will think something is boring or they won't "get it" so we leave them out of the conversation. My 5 year old still doesn't fully get what I'm doing, but I enjoy giving her the exposure. I also give her little tasks like helping with the bills (putting the stamp on, bringing the checks to the post office, etc...) to let her feel like she's a part of it.

    Also, as a side note, there are a lot of people in this business who pay their children for the work that they do, it's a great way to teach them about money & there are some tax benefits to it. Just a thought, at the ages of 10 & 13 this may be something worth looking into for your business. Look up a guy named Patrick James, I've heard him speak about this strategy.

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      Glad you are involving you 5 year old!  I've been amazed at how much the kids absorb just being included in the process.  I checked into Patrick James.  Thanks for the tip.

  5. Tiny 1469791843 avatar richc17


    I love it!  My kids have been following me around hunting for properties since they could walk.  I'll never forget when my 4 yr old daughter opened up the door to an a/c unit and said "Yep, it looks good!".  I'm always explaining the reasons for paying cash for my rentals, buying property, flipping houses, and the way I invest to the kids.  Great article!

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      Thanks for teaching your kids such great skills and being transparent with the conversation that goes on inside your head as you hunt for properties!

  6. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

    You've really pointed out something amazing with kids getting paid and opening IRAs!  The magic of compound interest really doesn't get exciting until a lot of time has passed, and kids certainly have a long runway before they'd need retirement funds.  Thanks for reading and expanding the idea.

  7. Tiny 1502136631 avatar toolsoup

    Great article. Another way to let your kids "cheat" is to pay them a salary for any work they do and then invest that into an IRA. Talk about "start[ing] the race before the start gun ever goes off".... Obviously check with your CPA/accountant for professional advice about your personal situation and what qualifies as work. I did and he said "yeah that's a great idea and almost nobody does it". I really like the quickbooks idea. I pay someone for that so that would certainly qualify.

    I can hear the story at the cocktail party now... "yeah, I've trained my children to be hired killers (exterminators), debt collectors (collect my note payments from my private money loans), and bookies (bookkeeper... okay kind of a stretch but we're embracing cheating so roll with it...)

  8. Tiny 1466201708 avatar sethm13

    Great post! I would love to do this with my daughter.

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      You can do it! I look forward to seeing the next generation of real estate savvy investors.

  9. Tiny 1435767451 avatar allenfletcher

    My 3-year-old daughter loves to be a part of our investing. The numbers are over her head but she has really got an eye for issues when we walk a property. More than one realtor or seller has commented on how sharp eyed she is!

    Allen Fletcher

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck
      Love it! Interest precedes skill, so nurture her interest and let the skill develop.

    2. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck
      Love it! Interest precedes skill, so nurture her interest and let the skill develop.

  10. No avatar

    I've been thinking that by bringing my kids to open houses will help them learn a thing or two about real estate later on or be smarter about money than I was.  Having them shake hands, look at others in the eyes and involve them in the discussion are really great ideas.  Thanks for putting this in my mind :)

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      Terrific idea!  There are plenty of open houses and shopping around will build business skills and also help the kids start seeing different kinds of deals.

  11. Tiny 1399611637 avatar chamorga

    Unfortunately my children were all grown by the time I got into RE. But I am still trying to get them interested.

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      It's never too late.  There's an active fellow in my REI with an adult daughter who is a teacher.  She runs fix & flips for him in the summer.

  12. Tiny 1481000738 avatar huynguyen

    love the post! Thanks for writing!

  13. Tiny 1517603500 avatar breespa1

    Thank you for the insight. I appreciate the experiences everyone is having with their children in real estate. I was't sure how to approach the idea. I desire my children as well to get a financial head start and to become fiscally aware. Great article and info.

  14. Tiny 1461883949 avatar melissad7

    Very inspiring. I don't have kids but I'm new to this and sharing everything I know with friends and family. It's wonderful how you can use your solid relationship with your kids who are at an age where they can get a true head start and never rely on the rat race. I hope to do the same when I have kids. Thanks for sharing! 

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      Thanks for reading.  Sharing & teaching what you know really increases your own absorption of the info.  Might as well help as many as possible exit the rat race!

  15. Tiny 1428948778 avatar jebbrilliant

    Wish I could edit my comments, I forgot to say great post and it's getting me excited again about bringing my daughter on the trip. She just started understanding about rent and how we get paid from that. 

  16. Tiny 1428948778 avatar jebbrilliant

    One of my goals for 2016 is to bring my 9 year old daughter with on a trip to visit my properties, whether it be to look at new ones or meet a partner there. We live in California and I invest in Indy so it would be a flight and hotel stay for her. I haven't figured out when yet but I'm really looking forward to this. It's time for her to see what I actually do, besides looking at houses all day on the computer. 

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      What a great idea!  Nothing like seeing pictures / numbers on the computer and then getting to see the house for real.

  17. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

    Thank you for the fun story!  My husband and I got a chuckle.  I agree, kids LOVE being part of the real thing.  Thanks for the idea, I'll have to bring my kids to some of the RE meetups this summer.

    1. No avatar

      Awesome Training!

  18. Tiny 1448398050 avatar bryanotteson

    Absolutely awesome. I told my wife (who has no interest in what I do in RE) that I was going to offer to take my 7 year old daughter to a 7AM monthly meetup. She said I was an idiot (summary) and no kid wants to get up at 5:30 on a Saturday to do that. My daughter LOVES it. The only rule is that she must remember something from the meeting. She now knows about staging, appraisals, and more. She is meeting other investors, business owners, and entrepreneurs.

    She couldn't remember any part of one meeting because she was too busy coloring. She was not allowed to go to the next one. She cried long and hard. Parents who think kids should not be involved or are "too young to understand" are holding their children back! Sounds like you are doing amazing things with yours. Congrats, and thank you!

  19. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

    Agreed.  Sometimes their insights into things makes me become aware of my filters that I have as I view the world.  Mostly, though, it feels terrific to know not only am I doing this for my own financial path, but also to help teach them.  How have kids opened your eyes to a new perspective?

  20. No avatar

    Great article! 

    Yes, kids can really make you see things from a different perspective

  21. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

    Fantastic!  Thanks for helping develop skills (financial and otherwise) in the next generation.

  22. Tiny 1463522111 avatar rodriguezv

    beginner here but got my nephew involved in the REI thing too. Great article 

    1. Tiny 1447792415 avatar nekeck

      @Rodriguez Victor What a lucky nephew you have! Definitely a good reminder that we all have children in our circle (either as your children, nieces or nephews, or even just neighborhood kids) that can benefit from your RE knowledge.