What I Learned In Kindergarten

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 4 minute read

An engaging poem by Robert Fulghum may be found in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was during my time in educator preparation that I first came upon it. The poem’s message resonated with me after working in several kindergarten classrooms, but I didn’t truly understand it until I became a parent myself.

Now that school has started up again for the kids, I thought we might take a look at some of the poem’s primary topics and see how they relate to our own financial situations. The real kindergarten teachings stated in the poem are included in bullet points under each topic. 

After each one is a short list of potential applications that might help us out financially. Surprisingly, the concepts we learned in elementary school are still relevant today.

Everyone is in this together.

  • Share all resources.
  • When you venture out into the world, you should be aware of traffic, hold hands, and stay together.

Over the past few decades, our society has shifted to a “every man for himself” mentality. People are more likely to dispute than discuss, and they would rather work alone than with others. Considering the world’s current financial climate, I would have to argue that policy isn’t helping us too much.

When we pool our resources and talents, we can do so much more. Giving to others less fortunate than ourselves makes us feel good and frequently returns to us in ways we couldn’t have imagined at the time. Whatever you do, it will come back to you.

Be a Responsible Citizen

  • Play fair.
  • Do not strike others.
  • Do not steal things that do not belong to you.
  • Say you’re sorry when you’ve caused someone harm.

Initially, I found the suggestion to physically assault someone over money to be out of place in a piece on personal finance. However, when you stop about it, individuals have done far worse than physically assault one another for money.

The delight of making money via persistent work and good management cannot be compared to that of making money by stealing from others or “gaming” the system in any other way. If you think you can get ahead in your career, your business, or your tax situation by breaking the rules, know that any gains you make will be short-lived. Once more, karma is a cruel mistress.

A real apology and appropriate restitution can go a long way toward making apologies if you find yourself on the wrong side of accepted ethics, and may even help you solidify a vital connection that would otherwise have been lost.

Organization & Maintenance Matter

  • Put items back where they were found.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Please wash your hands before eating.
  • Flush.

I think it’s important to pick up after yourself, not just because it’s the moral thing to do, but also because it gives you a sense of agency and accomplishment when you overcome your own mistakes.

Avoiding the hole altogether is preferable. Preventing “accidents” like overdraft fees, excessive debt, and overspending requires a well-organized filing, budgeting, and organizing system for one’s financial affairs. These things are easy to put off and a bit tedious, like washing your hands before you eat, but the benefits to your health and bank account are well worth the effort.

All Things in Moderation

  • Healthy as can be: warm cookies and ice cold milk.
  • Try to keep things in perspective and live a life that includes both leisure and responsibility.
  • Nap regularly in the afternoon.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is something I’ve learned to value more and more as I’ve gotten older, and it’s a principle that can be applied to every aspect of our lives, including our finances.

Being on top of your finances, including your budget, expenditures, and investments, is a terrific feeling. But let’s not lose sight of the reason for all of this effort. We want to take pleasure in life’s finer things. You can actually buy some of that stuff. Actually, the vast majority of people don’t even try.

Neither do I know many grownups who are able to take an afternoon nap every day, or who take the time to prepare a supper out of milk and cookies. This, however, does not mean that we cannot occasionally set aside funds for purely frivolous pursuits. Yes, a little sleep on a Saturday afternoon may give you the energy and perspective to solve your financial woes and enjoy life.

Take Note: Time is of the Essence

  • Be mindful of amazement. Remember the tiny seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant grows up, but nobody understands how or why. We are all the same way.
  • The goldfish, hamsters, white mice, and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup all perish. So do we.
  • Then recall the Dick-and-Jane novels and the first word you ever learnt – the most important word – LOOK.

Nothing beyond the next twelve months or ten years can be known with any certainty, including our personal and financial futures or the performance of the economy and the stock market.

There’s nothing more we can do but give it our all. We are here for a short period of time, and we should make the most of it by gaining as much knowledge as possible, enjoying ourselves, and leaving the world in a better state than when we arrived. If you can master those skills, you’ll be well-prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

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