Lori Mackey is living proof that you never know where life will take you. She started out as a hairdresser; now she's a go-to person for teaching children about money. Who goes to her? Banks like ING, with highly regarded finance programs for children, and schools around the country.
"I went out looking for tools to teach my own kids about money and there really wasn't anything," Mackey tells AOL Jobs. "A lot of things that taught them how to spend but nothing that taught them the value of money."
That was more than 10 years ago. Now, her company, Prosperity4kids.com, has grown with her own two children.
Teaching the Goal
As a hairdresser, Mackey used to teach classes. But when she stopped to think about her next step, she considered the things important in her life. The result was a short list: kids, family, money and teaching. Her next list included the things necessary, in her opinion, to create wealth: giving back, saving, investing and spending wisely.
Mackey first tested her methods on her own kids. She bought her son and daughter four piggy banks each, labeled with the four categories to create wealth. At the time, before he could read, her son chose to donate the 10 percent of his money targeted for charity to the Make a Wish Foundation. He received a letter about the child his money helped and it had an impact on him. Her daughter gave to a local animal shelter and regular visits helped her see a donation in action.
Investing was harder to visualize. Mackey kept it light, explaining, "You can own a piece of a company that you like."
Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way
While Mackey believes in providing for her kids' needs, their wants often had to be earned. She encouraged her kids to think creatively, and still does. Once, her son wanted ice cream money. Mackey suggested he figure out a way to earn it. He realized that he could return the family's recyclables for cash.
"As a parent, you take care of their needs. What they don't need are ten pairs of shoes. They don't need the excess. They begin to think their worth is what they have instead of who they are," she says.
As her now 18-year-old daughter prepares for college, she still embraces lessons taught by her mom. But, as teens are likely to do, she tried to sneak a few nights out with friends on the credit card meant for gas and paid for by mom.
"Food is free at home," Mackey told her daughter. "If you want to eat out with your friends, spend your money."
Money and Family in Mind
Mackey, 49, lives and breathes personal finance. She doesn't really have hobbies, but she pours herself into time with her friends and family.
"Everything I've done has made me realize what's important in my life. I just appreciate things. I have a 99-year-old grandmother," she says.
She may seem a little "hardcore" when it comes to this stuff. But she's really just a planner who takes a message and passes it on to kids -- with success.
"All they need is the idea and the plan and they can run with it," she says. "I think as parents, it's our job to give them a plan to create success."