3 money lessons a mom and entrepreneur says her kids learn just from watching her work

  • Ja’Net Adams was laid off from her job in 2008 when her son was only one year old.
  • Since then, she paid off $50,000 worth of debt, started her own business, and left her full-time job.
  • Watching her work teaches her kids curiosity, work ethic, and working toward long-term goals.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

In 2008, Ja’Net Adams (pronounced juh-nay) was laid off from her full-time job in pharmaceutical sales in Kernersville, North Carolina.

She tells Insider, “In one phone call, we lost 60% of our household income and our health insurance. And we had a one-year-old at home.” Adams used the four months that she was laid off to begin making a bigger plan for her future, including paying off $50,000 worth of debt, starting her own business, and leaving her full-time job with as little stress as possible.

Fourteen years later, Adams has managed to do all three of those things, and her two children, JR and Jocelyn, had front-row seats. Here are three important lessons that Adams says her children learned simply by watching her work.

1. Her kids feel safe asking about money and business

Adams plays an NPR podcast called Marketplace Money in front of her kids. “They hate talk radio, but I can tell it makes a difference. They learn a thing or two,” Adams tells Insider.

Her kids aren’t afraid to ask questions about why businesses closed during the pandemic, and Adams does her best to answer. “We were talking about why some stores went out of business, and I had the chance to talk to them about the supply chain crisis,” she says.

Adams says her kids were upset when Chick-Fil-A ran out of sauces, and she used that opportunity to explain that there’s high demand for goods and low supply because of the pandemic. “That Chick-Fil-A sauce, that was ruining their life for a little bit,” Adams says.

2. Her kids understand the importance of a strong work ethic

“My kids understand that if I don’t kill it, I don’t eat,” Adams says. “My kids ask why I’m still on my computer answering emails later in the evening, and I say, ‘Well, there’s people in California that are still working. People in Hawaii are just getting their day started.'”

Her kids understand that the hours their mom puts into her work directly translates into food on the table and a roof over their head.

3. They understand how to work toward long-term goals

Adams says that her work as a debt payoff coach gives her children a unique perspective on delayed gratification, helping them work toward their long-term goals.

“They don’t have to be in on the deeper conversations that parents need to have,” she says, “but you can start with explaining why they can’t get a toy at Walmart or Target.” When her kids ask for toys, she reminds them of their long-term goal of going to Disneyland for their birthday or a bigger present down the line.

This mindset helps them understand delayed gratification, and Adams hopes it fosters a healthy relationship with debt and money down the line.