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Thoughts on money, college, and kids from best selling author & NY Times money columnist Ron Lieber

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The Modern Husbands Podcast: Where we host national thought leaders to discuss how spouses can partner to manage money and the home and live happier lives.


About Ron Lieber

Ron Lieber is the author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller "The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money" and "The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Roadmap for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make." Mr. Lieber has been the "Your Money" columnist for The New York Times since 2008; before that, he was with The Wall Street Journal.

Ron is a model modern husband. Ron's wife, Jodie Kantor, is a prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times and best-selling author whose work, along with Megan Twohey, uncovered and exposed Harvey Weinstein's mistreatment of women throughout his reign of Hollywood success.

Their story was turned into the blockbuster film, She Said. We discussed with Ron what it was like for his family during such a turbulent time, all while he was working through a significant decline in his father's health.

Ron Lieber on money and values (20 second clip)

Why I value Ron's perspective so much

Ron's book, The Opposite of Spoiled, resonated more with me than any book I have ever read. The relationship between money and values was an integral part of my upbringing.

My father drove the worst car I have ever seen. If you look closely enough at the picture, you can see duct tape over where the door handles were because they all rusted off. So my dad eventually ran a metal fish wire through the door. To open it, you yanked on the wire like you were starting a weed eater, and the doors instantly popped open. That is only one illustration of what most people thought was an abandoned vehicle.

We had the money to drive nice cars. My father was a computer engineer, owned rental properties, and by this time, my mother was receiving disability income.

During my first year home from college, I asked my dad why he and my mother chose to drive such junk cars.

He didn't initially answer with an explanation. Instead, he had me grab a calculator.

Dad asked me to estimate the cost of a monthly car and then enter that number into the calculator.

He then asked me to estimate the monthly cost of full coverage car insurance, which I did correctly and entered into the calculator.

Dad had me multiply that number by 12 months, then by 20 years. I was taken aback by how much money my father saved.

I sat quietly for a moment, and then Dad looked me in the eyes and told me,

"Son, we never drove new cars because we did not have the money to send you to college if we did. And there's no way in hell any son of mine will live in a railroad car like I did to pay for a college education. And that's how we paid for yours."

Although this lesson rises above all of the rest, it was simply a capstone of a childhood full of money lessons that were more about shaping who I would become than they were about frugality.

My passion for financial literacy was born from my upbringing. More importantly, my parents taught and modeled that money is simply a tool to make the lives of those you love better. This is an important part of my identity and how I see the world. I admire financially successful and generous people who have a passion for uplifting children to grow and do the same. It's why I parent the way I do.

Ron's book, The Opposite of Spoiled, took the spirit of how I see the role of money and turned it into lessons parents could apply with their children to teach values as my parents did for me.

Ron Lieber on the emotional struggle parents face when supporting their children's college choice

A Great Tooth Fairy Strategy

Podcast Show Notes

0:00-0:58 Introduction

0:59-10:00 About Ron Lieber’s books: “The Opposite Of Spoiled” and “The Price You Pay For College”

10:01-17:33 Ron’s research process when writing both books

17:34-31:06 Lessons people can take away from his book “The Price You Pay For College”

31:07-39:24 Some of Ron’s favorite stories from his book “The Opposite Of Spoiled” and the lessons they create

39:28-47:54 Ron’s involvement with the film “She Said”

47:54-48:47 Conclusion

I encourage you to listen to or watch the podcast: A Conversation with NY Times Your Money Columnist Ron Lieber about money and kids.

Full Podcast: Audio Version

Full Podcast: Video Version

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