Today I’m going to let you in on a little secret—teaching your children how to handle money means rarely having to play the “bad guy” role. A role most parents would like to retire, since it is an ineffective teaching method anyway. I want to be the guiding force in my children’s life, but I also want to empower my daughters to make smart choices on their own. I found the best way to do this was to teach my girls how to make money decisions in alignment with their values.
This year I did things differently. I didn’t automatically rush out to the store and fill my cart, but instead I made a plan and set a budget. I also didn’t make decisions by myself. I let my daughters flex their decision-making muscles. We had a clear budget and a list of items that they needed for the upcoming school year. It then became a balancing act of wants and needs.
Review the list of the things your kids need and ask them what is something they really want this year. Maybe it’s a pair of designer jeans or a special pair of shoes. Remove the cost of the item from your budget and have them figure out how to buy the other needed items with the remaining money. Is it doable? Or do they have to make some compromises? Perhaps, if they purchase the plain store brand notebooks rather than the notebooks with Justin Bieber on the cover, they can free up some additional money. Regardless, they make decisions based on what’s important to them.
You also don’t need to spend every penny of the budget before school starts. In fact, it might make sense to set aside a portion for that “must have” item your children discover once school begins. Since they didn’t spend their entire budget, they now have the money for that must-have pair of shoes or gadget.
In my next post, I’ll talk about being a savvy consumer. If you have any back-to-school shopping questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your question on The Heavy Purse facebook page.