Wednesday, July 08, 1998

I'll have the Fillet and a Coke
by Jeb Sturmer

Recently Robert Sheard shared an e-mail about teaching young people the benefits of saving and investing. And it is difficult to get children to understand the concept of saving when they barely understand the concept of money. It's kind of like the reasoning used with your seventh grader: "you want to make good grades now so it will benefit you 20 years later." And then answering their question: "deSoto? Isn't he the guy who discovered South Africa?" Everything is so vague and distant, and there can be so many mixed messages.

I want to teach my children the importance of their financial health, too. This is the approach I took with one son.

Corey is a Coca-Cola nut -- alarm clock, phone, poster, stickers on the door, etc. For his recent 12th birthday I bought him one share of Coke. I got the share transferred from my name to his, had the certificate sent to me, and then got it matted and framed. Several days before his actual birthday the two of us went out for a steak dinner. When it came time for dessert the maitre d' came and presented him with his gift. It was wrapped in the financial section of the newspaper. I'm sure the subtlety was lost, but...

When he opened it I explained that he was now a part owner of the Coca-Cola Company. Since the original share had come in he had also received the annual report with proxy statement and I explained that the company had sent that along for his input. (All of this was aided by the waiter standing by with dropped jaw: "WOW! That is a great gift! I wish my dad had done that for me!!")

Though it is way too early to tell if this will produce another Foolish investor (or even another Chairman Ivester), the early indications are good. And at the very least, the money spent on the evening was well worth it to me.

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