Many of you cheered the news that financial literacy may soon be coming to our children’s schools. But don’t think for a minute that lets parents (or grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, etc) off the hook. In fact, I’m hoping by making financial literacy a part of our children’s education, it means money is no longer a taboo family topic.
Parents, whether by deliberate choice or simple unawareness, can no longer avoid talking about money when their child comes home and starts asking some uncomfortable questions.
Are you prepared to answer these questions and dialogue with your kids on how to make smart money decisions? Or will you tell them it’s none of their business and change the topic?
Many parents have told me they wished their parents would have talked to them about money when they were young. But they didn’t, which led to many poor money decisions, little savings and a lot of debt as adults. This cycle needs to stop. The first step to breaking this pattern begins by no longer believing in old myths.
I have no doubt that you have money skeletons in your closet, but guess what? So does everyone else. We are human beings and we make mistakes. Period. You may not be proud of some of your previous money decisions, but hopefully you learned/are learning from them and most importantly—don’t want your children to repeat them. But if you don’t share your mistakes and what you learned, they won’t know how to avoid repeating your mistakes.
I cannot guarantee that sharing your money mistakes will prevent your children from making them too. But what I do know is that you have now planted your voice and opinion within their subconscious, which may cause them to slow down and remember the outcome of your money mistakes when they are confronted with similar circumstances. It’s been many years since my father first started his money lessons with me over dinner, but I still hear his voice when I make decisions. Your opinions carry real weight.
Actually the opposite has been my experience. I have spoken to groups of elementary school children to high school seniors and they were all eager to learn about money. Most kids want to be heard and have some measure of independence. Money gives them both. When you teach kids how to save, spend and share, you give them a voice and control over their money.
Most kids have no problem spending (who doesn’t?) but I’m regularly astounded by their willingness to save and share once they understand the reason behind doing so. The more children handle money, the better they become at making smart decisions with their money. Kids have no problem spending mom and dad’s money, but when it comes to their own, they tend to take their time and weigh their options, particularly after making a few bad decisions.
Au contraire, my friends. Thanks to the internet, there is a ton of information and tools at your fingertips. But even then, you start with the basics. What can you do with your money? You can save it, spend it and share it (add invest it for older children). How do you decide what to do with your money? You set goals so when you find something else you want, you can compare it against your goals, giving you a reason to say “no”. You teach them to differentiate between a “want” and “need” and how to prioritize needs over wants. As they grow older, you start teaching more complex financial concepts, such as budgeting, running a household and investing.
You can find a variety of tips and advice to help you talk to your children about money throughout The Heavy Purse blog. My downloadable e-workbooks also provide age-based curriculum for you to teach your children.
You may not feel like an expert today, and that is okay. You have an opportunity to educate yourself and seek help where appropriate. Invite your kids to join you, as you improve your own financial literacy and journey towards financial independence. It will be a fun, enlightening ride, and your children’s future will be brighter because of it.
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.
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