Daymond John Teaches Kids About Money With His New Book

'Shark Tank' investor Daymond John is helping families learn about financial literacy with his new children's book, 'Little Daymond Learns to Earn.'

Photo of Daymond John

Daymond John has been giving advice and tips to budding entrepreneurs for more than a decade on ABC’s Shark Tank, and now the FUBU founder is offering some of his expertise to a generation he feels can also truly benefit from it—young kids. The father of three released his children’s book, Little Daymond Learns to Earn, this month with the hopes of opening young readers’ minds to financial literacy, a critical life lesson often left out of childhood education.

“I wouldn’t have normally wanted to do this, except I have this new little bundle of joy in my life,” John says of 7-year-old daughter, Minka, with wife Heather John.

While he’s also dad to 29- and 24-year-old daughters from his first marriage, John says his experience on Shark Tank since 2009 made him realize many are missing out on strong lessons about money. “I've been on a show where I watch people live their dreams and fight for their dreams, but I also watch a whole bunch of other people get into debt because they don't have financial intelligence,” he says. “And it really hit me—our kids are not taught financial intelligence in school.”

It really hit me; our kids are not taught financial intelligence in school.

It’s true: less than half of states require some sort of personal finance class for students, according to the Council for Economic Education. Of course, resources are not equal in those states depending on district funding. And yet, financial literacy–the skills allowing people to make smart money decisions—is important to build a foundation for things like managing credit cards, building a credit score, and deciding how to pay for college

In Little Daymond Learns to Earn, aimed at ages 4 to 8, the main character joins forces with his friends to start a business to save enough money for a music poster he wants. Little Daymond and his friends work together using their different strengths to make the business successful. By following along, families are introduced to money lessons like saving, spending, and budgeting. ”It is a very simple, soluble way for parents and kids to understand how money works,” says John.

Book cover Daymond John

Courtesy of Daymond John

He believes kids are never too young to learn about financial literacy. “Entrepreneurial thinking is what a kid already does,” John points out. But often, young dreams are discouraged because adults in their lives feel certain goals are unattainable. That’s usually because of lack of representation, says John. "We need to change the dialogue, and why am I the one to do it?" asks John. “I'm the only African American person on television, self-made, for the last 14 years that has nothing to do with music, sports, or politics." It's critical for more Black kids, girls, and other underrepresented groups to feel inspired to chase their dreams and learn to make smart financial choices along the way. That's especially important as there are racial gaps in financial literacy, with reports showing Black people scoring lower than other groups in questions related to finances.

Entrepreneurial thinking is what a kid already does.

But the reality is it’s often hard for parents to teach their kids about making and saving money when they didn’t learn that themselves. John, who turned a $40 budget into a $6 billion worldwide fashion company, says it’s never too late for parents to educate themselves on finances, especially with social media making it easier to do so. “Just follow 20 different finance types of sites,” he suggests. This will populate your feed and expose you to financial tips and advice for free. Self-education is also a proactive way for parents to learn how to leave generational wealth for their children. “If we don’t come from generational wealth, then grandma and grandpa couldn’t tell us what to do, so we have to seek this knowledge elsewhere,” says the New York City native.

There are also fun and simple ways for parents to instill small financial lessons in their kids, something he is doing with little Minka. While he’s teaching by example, John is also making a conscious effort to help her learn about earning. The entrepreneur and his wife encourage Minka to keep filling her piggy bank with money she receives throughout the year, including from the tooth fairy. Every year, they open Minka’s piggy bank and work with her to prioritize where the money should go. That includes three things: putting money toward necessities like food, buying what she wants to have but doesn’t need, and investing. 

“You invest in something that you absolutely love that will work for you when you're sleeping or you invest in creating something that will solve another person's problem or bring another person joy,” John says he’s explained to his daughter. “That is what a business person is.”

The lessons are already paying off: Minka became inspired to fill little clear bottles with seashells she collects and give them to family members. Eventually, people began buying them for $20. With that money, Minka was able to buy herself a pet fish. “That is what I have to establish with her every year, that money buys you freedom,” says the proud girl dad. 

The famous businessman hopes anyone with kids in their lives can use his book as a resource to encourage little entrepreneurial spirits the same way he is motivating Minka. “We're going to help these little amazing sharks of ours become brilliant leaders,” he says.

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