Kids aren't usually interested in hearing about money -- unless they're about to be handed some. But even if your kids aren't excited about saving and investing you can still lay the groundwork for personal and financial success by taking a few notes from legendary value investor Warren Buffett. Buffett's $63 billion fortune stems from his lifelong study of value -- learning to spot it, create it, and keep it growing. Many of the practices that have made Buffett so wealthy also apply to creating a rich and rewarding life overall.
1. Treasure your friends
When we're young, friendships teach us about being considerate and about the art of compromise. As we get older, friends are crucial to a good social life, irreplaceable when we need a little (or a lot) of help, and a great source of networking, both personal and professional.
Of course, to get the most from friendships, it helps to be a great friend. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has cited Warren Buffett as her example of how to nurture friendships. "On the day I die, I want people to think that I was a great mom and a great family member and a great friend," Gates recently told Fortune. Buffett has given her an example of how to build friendships through little things like sending an article of something that is interesting him. Having strong friendships also makes it easier to follow the next piece of advice.
2. Pick the right partners
"A great partner makes any job easier," according to Buffett's animated avatar in "The Secret Millionaire's Club," his web series for children who are interested in business. Kids have plenty of chances to see how partnering with the right people can make group school projects, chores, and other tasks go more smoothly. They can also experience what it's like to be stuck in a group with partners who don't pull their weight or who take over and shut out others' contributions.
Use those wins and setbacks to talk with your kids about what makes a good partner: reliability, ethics, and compatible skills. Learning to spot good potential partners and to be a good partner are skills that apply to all areas of professional and personal life.
3. Build a good reputation
Businesses, politicians, entertainers, and kids' popularity all rise and fall based on how others perceive them. "A good reputation is the greatest thing to build over your lifetime," cartoon Buffett tells his audience. "The best thing you can do for yourself is to build a reputation for being kind, generous, honest, and thoughtful to others." Especially in an age when social media posts are forever, this idea is worth reinforcing year after year.
A Buffett quote that often comes up when Fools put together their list of smart Buffett quotes is this one: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
4. Know what you're getting into
Parents of impulsive kids may heave a sigh reading this one. Buffett has famously said that no one should invest in a business they don't understand, and that philosophy applies to virtually any activity kids can undertake. Will that toy break five minutes after they buy it? Will there be adults supervising that party? Is this college the right choice? Show your kids how to do a little (or a lot) of research and forward thinking before making decisions that involve their time, money, friendships, or reputation.
5. Practice being patient
Learning to delay gratification is one of the most important skills a child can develop, whether it applies to eating dessert after dinner, leaving the presents under the tree until Dec. 25, or skipping a night out to study for exams. Buffett is a big fan of patience as a value investment approach, preferring to watch the businesses he wants to invest in until the price drops, and he understands that waiting is a form of action. "No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time," Buffett has said.
6. Think about the long term
Buffett is all about taking the long view with his investments. "If you aren't willing to own a stock for 10 years, don't even think about owning it for 10 minutes," is one of his better-known quotes in that regard.
For most kids, 10 years is an eternity they can't wrap their minds around, and they're typically not thinking much about investment strategies. But as parents we can get kids in the habit of thinking a week, a month, or a year ahead as they decide what to do with their allowance or think about what activities to pursue. Realizing there's life after adolescence can take the sting out of some of the less pleasant aspects of tween and teen social life, too, like feeling awkward or left out. And teens need to be able to think beyond high school and even past college so they can make life choices they'll be content with.
Even if your kids never make a dime using Buffett's investing strategies (although of course we Foolishly hope that they will), the values of strong relationships, a good reputation, patience, and thoughtful decision-making can enrich their lives.
Casey Kelly-Barton has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.