Peanut Butter and Jelly Management

Tales from Parenthood, Lessons for Managers

By Lea Saslav

Ever Wonder How Top CEO's Teach Their Kids About Money?

Do they know something you don't about nurturing good financial health in their children--habits that can last a lifetime?

If you have children of your own, you may have a gnawing feeling that you're supposed to have a plan for teaching your children about financial health, but, hey, just keeping up with your kids' homework assignments is hard enough.

Have no fear. No matter what your child's age, it's never too late to start fostering good money skills early in their lives. A terrific new book, Peanut Butter and Jelly Management, written by corporate CEO Chris Komisarjevsky (President and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide) and his wife Reina, can help you do just that. Drawing on stories from their own lives as parents of six children, ranging in age from 6-12 years old, the Komisarjevskys show that money management lessons can be gleaned from parenting skills, while giving readers tips for applying these lessons to their own families.

Think Tom Peters meets Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

The authors have arranged their book in 19 bite-sized chapters, easily digestible and evocatively written for a discerning parental audience. Some good examples include chapters centered around teaching a child how to ride a bike without training wheels ("The Courage to Let Go"), building sand castles ("Work hard, play hard: A Winning Combination"), and apologizing when wrong ("Acknowledge mistakes, accept responsibility, and move forward").

But how does a CEO of a global company raise his own kids to be financially savvy? Chris Komisarjevsky shares his answers in the following interview with

  1. Allowances How do you deal with allowances when you have six children ages 6, 7, 8, almost 10, 11, and 12?

    Chris Komisarjevsky: I follow five general guidelines:

    • Pay each child their age in dollars per week. For example, a 10 year old gets $10.00 each week.

    • Pay each child at the end of each month, not each week. This teaches the valuable lesson of building savings over quick gratification.

    • Each child keeps two glass jars in his or her room. One is labeled "college" and the other is labeled "savings." Once the allowance is received, half of it is immediately placed in the "college" jar, and the other half goes in the "savings" jar. This way, they get to go through the motions of "depositing" their money into savings and college "accounts."

    • The college money is "untouchable."

    • Once every 3 or 4 months, we go to the real bank with the kids. They put their "college" money in their savings account. Each child has an account of his or her own and gets to watch the account accrue interest each month. The idea here is not only to have them contribute to their own college fund but to teach them that education is extremely important both to them and to us. They should be thinking about and planning for it throughout the years.

  2. Spending How do your kids handle the remainder in their "savings" jar?

    CK: The concept behind spending the "savings" money is that we arrange a time when we all go to the store where they can spend their money. Most of the time we tell them they can spend $20 or $30 of their money.

    If they want to buy something that's more expensive than what we would normally pay for, we tell them that we will pay a portion of the price and that they have to pay the difference. For example?

    CK: We recently bought skateboard helmets online for our kids. Turns out helmets average around $20 a piece, but some models cost more--like $39 or $49 a piece.

    So, in this case we would say, "We will pay $20, but if you want the $49 skateboard helmet, that's your call. You'll have to pay the additional $29."

    This gets the kids to think through the process of "Do I really want the chrome-colored one which costs $49 or will the yellow one at $29.95 be okay?"

    I asked my son the other day if he wanted to buy the more expensive, "cooler" helmet, and he said, "No, I'll get the cheaper one." This happens all the time.

The message of Peanut Butter and Jelly Management is clear and irrefutable: by nurturing your children early on with good financial habits, you create the foundation on which they'll grow up to be financially responsible and healthy individuals!

To receive a complete transcript of my interview with Chris Komisarjevsky, feel free to e-mail me at Also, keep sending along your questions or suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered in future articles. I look forward to hearing from you!



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