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Barbie is entering a moment of cultural renaissance. Barbie pink is in style, Barbiecore is trending, and Greta Gerwig’s „Barbie” movie is highly anticipated. When I was a child, my father used Barbie to help me learn about finances. This unconventional tactic helped me understand the dynamic relationship between my money and the larger economy.
My father invested in mutual funds to diversify assets for my college fund. He encouraged my input, and asked me to pick a company I liked and believed in. I chose Mattel; my father then bought shares in a mutual fund that contained Mattel.
If there was a company I wanted to support at age 7, Mattel was it. I had Barbie dolls, Barbie Dream Houses, Barbie campers, and countless Barbie accessories. The Barbie brand supported my burgeoning imagination, and it was created by a woman, Ruth Handler. The 1990s encouraged „girl power,” and I knew this was the future I wanted to see.
My dad taught me all about investing through my love of Barbie
My father could have left it at that, but instead he used my interest in Barbie to help me understand the stock market.
When he received quarterly reports, he would review them with me. They were in a folder filled with vibrant pie charts and neatly ordered rows of numbers. My dad and I combed through the reports together.
Some quarters, Mattel stock went up, and I was excited to see a bigger slice in the pie chart and larger numbers in the columns. This meant that more Barbie products were being sold. Other quarters showed a decline, which meant more people needed to buy Barbies!
My father encouraged a careful review of the quarterly reports. He urged me to ask questions about the things I didn’t understand. I remember asking him what percentages were because we hadn’t learned about them in first grade.
As time went on, he also quizzed me on the materials to make sure I was retaining our conversations and using financial vocabulary words correctly. We would even compare reports from previous quarters and note their similarities and differences.
How Barbie’s lessons continued to help me as an adult
Mattel was the business I was most excited to track in the mutual fund because I supported its growth as a consumer. But my dad used quarterly reports to show why „putting all your eggs in one basket” was not advantageous in the long run.
My dad taught me a valuable lesson about differentiating assets, as the stock market can be unpredictable. Spreading out money can yield greater results in the long run. I would have been happy to invest solely in Mattel stock. I didn’t understand why my dad had chosen a mutual fund with other investments as well.
He used real-time data to show me that in some quarters Mattel’s stock went down, and that would mean a greater loss if it was the only investment. Gains and losses were less extreme with a variety of mutual fund investments.
Barbie proved strong enough to stand on her own in the American economy. Mattel stock, combined with other investments, helped pay for four years of college.
I still apply the financial skills I learned talking to my dad about Barbie. I look for opportunities to differentiate assets through savings and investments. I compare quarterly reports for my retirement fund to understand my money’s potential for growth. As a result of this practical application, I was able to save thousands of dollars. I used money I accrued through savings and investments to pay for graduate school independently, without taking out a loan.
Barbie, and other toys, can help kids understand finances through real-world application
My dad used a brand I was enthusiastic about to help me understand finances. He made me a participant in growing my college fund, rather than a bystander. By connecting money to something I was excited about, I became more invested in learning. My dad’s real-world application of the financial market helped me understand money in relevant ways. These lessons made money feel more meaningful and engendered a sense of responsible consumerism in me.
Children become active consumers when they invest in a company and follow its growth over time. This knowledge gives them tools to manage money in the future. When children support brands that align with their interests, they can consider what’s meaningful to them and how they want to show up in the world.
In keeping with family tradition, I plan to use my nieces’ Barbie Dream House to teach them about mortgages and competitive real estate markets.