Devaluation Starts With Us

Over the “Christmas Break” I had an insightful conversation with my 9 year old daughter about devaluation.

It started simply about a penny. Yes, that little copper coin so dissed for only being one cent.

The conversation centered around kids at my daughter’s school saying that pennies are worthless. As we counted (and rolled) the many pennies we had stashed away over 2019 I asked my daughter: “So are pennies really worthless?” She said, “They’re not worthless dad, they’re just worth one cent.”

I asked, “Are you sure?” thinking now’s a chance to discuss the value of money and investing.

She asked, “How can a penny be worth more than a penny?”

I asked, “How many pennies in a dollar?” “100” she replied.

“How many pennies in $5 dollars?” “500” she replied.

“Do you think with $5 dollars we could go to Walmart and buy some lemons, sugar and cups?” I asked. “Yeah” she said…”but, why would we do that?”

“How much can you sell a cup of lemonade for?” I prodded. “$.50” she said.

Knowing that her soccer season just ended a month ago I asked: “How many cups could you sell in a day at one of your soccer matches at the park?” “50” she said.

“How much money would you make at $.50 a glass selling 50 glasses?” “$25 dollars” she said quickly, excited to use her multiplication skills. “Why?” she asked.

Getting to the root of the point, “How much did we make off that $5 dollars in worthless pennies?” “$20 dollars” she said.

“Not so worthless, huh?” I stated. “Nope dad, I get your point.” she said.

A simple conversation about basic investing principles got me thinking about business relationships. How many of our relationships have turned into “unintended pennies”? – relationships we just take for granted since we don’t invest in them anymore. The “one cent” only mentality. Our team members, clients, colleagues, networking relationships, vendors, family, friends…those relationships that haven’t even blossomed yet – how many have been tarnished by our devaluation over the years.

It is interesting that devaluation starts with us. We have to tarnish the value of a relationship to start down the road to devaluation. Either we invest in our relationships or the value goes away. Think through your relationships heading into 2020 and ask yourself – “Am I stepping over pennies that could be invested in my future?” and “Am I the penny that needs to be polished to help invest in someone else’s future?”

How much are you going to invest this year in relationships that have been tarnished by your devaluation? I’m reassessing my relationships and I’m looking for those pennies I’ve allowed to tarnish and my goal is to polish them up and invest in them wisely. I know the returns in friendship, collaboration and yes, money, will be there in 2020.