I developed my children’s books as an easy way to help parents start the money conversation because these kinds of talks remain a missed opportunity for too many. It’s my hope that I can help parents reconsider how they look at money and their kids.
Parents often tell me they don’t want their kids to worry about money. I understand. I don’t want my girls to worry about whether or not Mom and Dad can pay the bills either. At the same time, I don’t want to watch my girls make one poor money decision after another as adults, because I never taught them how to make good ones when they were young. This is, unfortunately, an all too real reality for many parents.
One common misperception about teaching kids how to handle their money wisely is that it needs to be complicated. It doesn’t. These are simple conversations. Most of the time, you’re just explaining the things you do, like why you comparison shop or spend more money on one item than another. To help you get started and raise financially confident kids, here are some important money do’s.
Make the commitment to break the money taboo cycle in your home. Be transparent about how you use your money (where appropriate) and avoid keeping “money secrets”. Kids are eager to learn from you because they recognize the power of money. Teach them how to use that power in a way that brings them real joy.
Be mindful of your words and actions and make sure they are in alignment. Often times, we inadvertently give mixed messages about money to our kids. We say one thing, “Be grateful for what you have”, then complain about our lack. Be aware, especially with young children, as they are very literal. So if you say “we can’t afford it” without explaining the “why” behind the “no”, they literally believe you can’t afford it and worry about whether you can afford food, etc. You’ve created a much deeper and potentially permanent fear around money and lack, when in most cases, you simply meant they didn’t need another toy.
This is one of the first lessons I taught my girls. It is the best defense against mindless spending. And because the girls know what they truly want through their save, spend and share goals, when they choose in favor of their goals over other items, they don’t even feel deprived.
It may be easier to internalize your decisions, but you’re missing a great teachable moment. I love asking the girls for their opinions on the things we buy and which item they would choose. It gives me a chance to explain my decision and teach them about price — and when it matters most and when other considerations, such as qualities and values, outweigh it.
Kids need firsthand experience on making decisions, both good and bad, in order to learn how to make confident money decisions. So guide your kids to the best decision, but ultimately let them decide how to use their money. When they find something else they want, let them decide whether they should buy it or not, even if they are making a mistake. Money mistakes are going to happen no matter what you do, and I would rather my girls make them when the consequences are small.
Gratitude is a big part of my life and core family value in our home. We make a point to appreciate the things we do and have AND the things that others have and do too. As important as it is to be grateful for what you have, you need to also be grateful, rather than envious, of what others have as well. I want my girls to see that we don’t feel entitled to our good life and recognize blessings, both ours and others.
When you achieve family and/or individual save, spend and share goals, celebrate your success! It is a big deal and it should feel like a magnificent accomplishment. The bigger your enthusiasm, the more your children (and you too) will want to do this again and again.
It may be your initial inclination to hide your money skeletons, but please don’t. When appropriate share some of your mistakes with your kids, focusing on the “why” and what you did to fix or turn around your situation. This is how your kids learn and hopefully will choose to avoid repeating your mistakes.
Money is rarely just given for no reason in my home. The girls earn money through our weekly Job List. The girls control how much money they earn by the number of jobs they complete. If they do a great job, I pay the occasional bonus and will reduce or not pay for poor jobs. Another option is to help your kids find their entrepreneurial spirit and make money through creating a business. My girls are big fans of lemonade stands. 🙂
Teaching kids about money is ongoing. It doesn’t end. So be sure to sign up my newsletter and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube to stay up-to-date on my latest tools and tips to help you raise financially confident kids.
The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.