Teaching My Kids Real Estate Investing through GISS

financial_education_for_kids_rein_logo_blog.pngBy: Mai Lee

What was the trigger that got you started teaching your children financial life skills?

As immigrants to Canada, my loving family had very little and taught me two lessons about money;
one was purposeful, the other, more valuable, was unintended. Lesson #1: go to University,
work/save, get a good job, work/save, buy a house, work/save and pay it off in 25 years.
Lesson #2: my mom invested money into a university fund that matched her contributions. This
taught me that I can work hard physically for money, like my parents, but also, that I can make
money work even harder for me.

How did you start and at what age?

Today, Gabriella is 9 and Atticus is 7. A year ago, an allowance through chore cards were
given for helping around the house. The first goal was to fill the chart so they could “cash out”
their cards for money (the most popular choice) or choose to save it. Since they understood
“work” involved an exchange of physical labour and time, the value of saving money and making
it work for them through compound interest was taught:

Allowance Chore Cards: Compound Interest Staircase:
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By not “cashing out” their cards, 1 compound interest card worth 25 cents was earned weekly.
Next week, the 25 cents had been compounded to 50 cents, so long as the cards were not
“cashed out.” I sped up the process to show how they made money without engaging in a physical task. Their compound interest is arranged in a staircase shape so each step is added weekly. I slowly phased out their “allowance” but still maintained the expectation to help around the house.

What is working for you?

As a Real Estate Investor, I am a proud a member of the Real Estate Investment Network
(REIN) and through REIN, attended a children’s financial literacy event and was introduced to
the GISS method. Using the kids? Chinese New money, I visited the bank for different
combination of coins and dollar bills to help divide their money:

Gabriella’s GISS bank – Give, Invest, Save, Spend


Continuing with the concept of teaching the kids to make money work hard for them, I had a
great idea to meaningfully teach them about real estate investing at their level. Using an advent
Kinder Egg Christmas calendar shaped as a house, the kids used the part of GISS invest
to buy their first rental property:

Atticus’ Investment House:

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Their GISS investment funds was their down payment to purchase a rental property. All 24
doors were labeled with “January Rent 2016”, “February Rent 2016”, etc. “Rent” is collected
from “tenants” on the 1st of the month (I just give the kids one loonie to tape inside the


Notice the doors start off small but eventually get larger on the bottom and are purposely named
to teach the concept that:
1.) 24 doors = a 2 year mortgage term.
2.) The rent collected by the tenant is used to pay down the mortgage.
3.) As a mortgage pay down progresses to a bigger door, the kids will receive a toonie (then $3, etc.) as more principal vs. interest is paid down.
4.) When the last door in December 2017 is reached, the tenants will have paid the mortgage. Now the house is owned free and clear. As a positive cashflowing asset, all the initial down payment from GISS has been paid off, resulting in an infinite rate of return on their money.
5.) As they get older, we can potentially discuss:
a.) Growing the portfolio: refinancing the property to pull a 75% loan to value to purchase additional rental properties.
b.) Attracting Joint Venture partners consider joint venturing with mommy or daddy for a 50% capital buy out and use the funds as seed capital to purchase additional house(s).
c.) Simply let the house continue to earn money to fund their purchases, such as toy stuffies and Pokemon cards from websites like https://pokeflip.com/ and others like it.
6.) Future points is budgeting for items such as vacancies, repairs for costly items such as a roof replacement, getting the kids to help write the rental ads, discuss how a property appreciates in value in an up market, consider different asset classes such as multifamily, etc. I feel it has been very successful so far because it is a tangible and age appropriate way to teach my kids about real estate investing.

I feel it has been very successful so far because it is a tangible and age appropriate way to teach my kids about real estate investing.

What do you hope to achieve? Goals for important life lessons?

I hope to teach my children to value real estate investing because I know it will create a future in
which they will be comfortable
, have everything they need and be confident that their real estate
investments will fund their life so that in turn, they can architect their own life, on their own

What are some of the most inspiring and rewarding things you seen your children do or
say? What is it you want to share with other parents?

When visiting their aunt who purchased a new house, my 7 year old son asked, ?Auntie Anra, how much are your property taxes?? To which she replied, ?That is a very good question, Atticus. I don?t think I even know!? Overall, what surprises me most is my children understand that they can grow their money with real estate and have internalized that they can work for money, but it is much more fun to make it work for them!


REIN Kids BC will be held in Coquitlam on Saturday May, 28. Click here for more information, or to register your kids!

REIN Kids Ontario will be held in Toronto on Saturday, June 25. Click here for more information, or to register your kids!

Real estate investors Mai and her husband Franco Lee manage a successful and growing portfolio based in Calgary, AB. They have been proud REIN members since 2013 and were awarded “Top Players of the Year” and “Rookies of the Year” for Alberta South in 2014 as well as “Small Landlords of the Year” in 2015 by the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA). Connect with them on Twitter @yyc4rent – they would love to hear from you!

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