Children and Money

Myth: Kids Don’t Care about Money

Money Myth: Kids Don't Care About Money | www.TheHeavyPurse.comTo me, kids and money go hand-in-hand. While I know many of you wholeheartedly agree with me, there are many parents who are simply unaware of the need to talk about money with their kids. As I shared previously, most of us were raised in homes where money was a taboo topic and have continued that tradition in our homes. Well, I’m going to dispel the kids don’t care about money myth once and for all. It’s not true. They actually care quite a bit.

Why Parents Believe Kids Do Not Need to Learn about Money

When I talk to parents about teaching kids about money, most seem a bit surprised and uncertain. It’s not a common practice for most, and it seems a bit unusual. Perhaps, even a bit unnecessary. By the end of our conversation, most readily agree that money talks need to become a priority. While I do consider myself to be persuasive, I find busting these two popular myths help support my cause.

Myth #1: Kids Don’t Need to Be Bothered with Money Matters.

I understand the mindset but respectfully disagree. I believe kids should enjoy being kids and should not feel responsible for your family’s financial foundation. However, they still need to learn about money. Every child, regardless of what career path they choose for themselves, will make money decisions as adults. We need to prepare them to make good money decisions, which too few of us were prepared to do when we first left home ourselves. Some of us, years later, are still trying to fix our money mistakes. This is why you cannot fall back on the let kids be kids mantra. The price is too high.

Besides, money talks shouldn’t be boring lectures, nor should you try to scare your child into good money habits. I keep my money talks with the girls fun and light-hearted. I do my best to avoid turning them into boring lectures where their eyes glaze over. I look for teachable moments to keep the conversations relevant to what we are doing. Or I look for ways to incorporate money into activities we have planned.

Myth #2: Kids Aren’t Interested in Learning about Money

Kids aren’t always the easiest to read and there are days when I’m not even 100% confident that the girls are paying attention. But you know what happens? They surprise me all the time with how much they do listen and internalize what I teach them.

For example, after a recent shopping trip, Lauren wanted to make sure that I could pay our credit card bill in full, so “we don’t waste family money on interest charges.” Now I know all those times I asked them “Who pays when I slide this plastic card?” and talked to them about credit cards made an impact.

Remember, this is not a one-time conversation. I asked my girls “who pays when I slide this plastic card?” for many years. Money conversations need to happen regularly. Often times weaving it into everyday activities or how you decided to use your family money by setting specific goals is a great place to start.

If you haven’t talked to your kids about money previously, they make act a bit surprised and confused when you start. But don’t let that stop you. They do listen, even when it appears they are not. So talk to them and be the best financial role model you can be.

Kids Recognize the Power Money Has in the Real World

When you were a kid, most likely you couldn’t want to be a grown-up, so no one could tell what you could or couldn’t do. We know that the power resides in grown-ups. We also see the power money wields too. Kids generally don’t have much money or power, which is why kids DO care about money. They want power.

This is what often leads kids to make so many poor money decisions when they leave home. They heard a lifetime of “no’s” from you, so now that they have their own money (whether it’s a credit card, student loan and/or money from a job) they tell themselves “yes” all the time. Now I’m not suggesting you say “yes” to your kids all the time, but this is why it’s critical you talk to your kids about money. Right or wrong, money is power in today’s world, and your kids need to taught how to confidently wield their power in a way that honors their values and goals and supports their financial well-being.

They Will Follow Your Lead

My girls do care about money because I taught them how to use it responsibly on the things that truly matter to them. They see their Mom and Dad wield their power with integrity and in alignment with what they want in life. While I’m not a big superhero fan, Stan Lee said it best in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I take my responsibility to teach my girls how to wield their power very seriously. And I hope you do too.


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March 17, 2014  •  40 Comments  •  Children and Money

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  1. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    Kids may not realize they need to care about money....which is exactly why we need to teach them about it. The earlier the better. I was shopping with my son yesterday for stuff he needs for baseball tryouts. I could tell he was deliberately choosing less expensive things because he was worried about the cost (even though I was paying for the stuff). It definitely brought a smile to my face - but I did have to override him and have a discussion about quality for a few items. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      That's great, Travis! I love how he was conscious of what he was spending and you also taught him a valuable lesson too. There are times when you (assuming you can) pay more for quality and other times when it doesn't make sense to pay more. That is an important lesson to learn too.
  2. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    I think you're spot on about kids picking up on the power that money has. That alone is a good reason to 'clue them in' on how money works and give them a good foundation of understanding on money. Their interest in money is only going to increase when they hit their teenage years!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Absolutely, DC. Kids are always observing us and they know money "talks" so to speak. They see the fun side of money - getting what you want - but they don't always see the consequences of making poor decisions until they are on their own. Having that good foundation is so important. And you're right - the older they get the more interested in money become.
  3. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    Shannon, as usual, you're right on the mark here. Those teachable moments are SO important to take advantage of. Even in one short year, we've seen it make a tremendous impact on our children. IMHO, one of the very best things you can do for your children is educate them on the power and responsibility that comes with money. Great post!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      I agree that one of the best things you can do for your child is to teach them about money. So many parents do so much to help their kids succeed but neglect to teach them how to handle their money wisely and make good money decisions, which is such an important skill set to have. I'm so glad you are taking advantage of those teachable moments, Laurie. They truly do make a difference and are really the best way for kids to learn.
  4. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    My oldest child is kind've obsessed with money. When we moved to our new house, I had some mommy guilt and told the kids that we would get them a new playset for the backyard. I didn't really think about it at the time, but the neighborhood park is only a block away, so getting our own park makes little sense. The other day, my oldest daughter said, "I don't think we need a park, mom. Let's just save the money and use the big park." She's only four!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Wow! I love it, Holly! It's great she already understands that it makes more sense to just go to the big park instead of spending money to have her own. Now you can use that money for something that the whole family wants. She's a smart girl, just like her Mama. :)
  5. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    You're spot on as usual Shannon! I agree that the price is too high to ignore working with on money matters. Our oldest, who is six, is quickly learning that she does care about money - because it means that she can have money to get something special that she may want. That's why it's so important to work with kids so they learn how to responsibly handle money so they can have what they want, but much more importantly, save it and use it to accomplish their goals in life.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Thanks, John! It is amazing how quickly kids catch on to the power of money and want to be able to make their own money decisions. I know my girls really enjoy being able to decide how to use their money and feel empowered by the process. Learning how to save for the things they truly want is such an important lesson that so few adults know. Imagine what the world would be like if every child knew and embraced this one simple lesson.
  6. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    I completely agree Shannon! It is wrong to "assume" things about your children especially something as important as money knowledge. I think that people miss the fact that money "lessons" don't have to be sit downs and boring, but they can happen every single day. We talk about money every single day in our house in a variety of ways, and my son is always engaged in the conversation. He is 8 now, we have been doing this since he was 5, and it has been nice to see his "progression" in thought and money understanding over the years.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Thanks, Shannon! I agree many parents think it needs to be some formal sit-down lecture, which is definitely does not. I find my girls really learn best through teachable moments, which lead to such great conversations. It is amazing to see how our kids understanding of money develops and progresses through the years. My youngest is the same age and it's amazing to see how financially literate she has become.
  7. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    Kids are SO interested in money...I see it every day when I teach personal finance to my students. Perhaps they are so hungry because they don't get any teaching at home. I think many parents don't talk about it with their kids because the parents know they themselves don't have a good grasp on it. They may never admit that but deep in their heart they know they are struggling handling money. So naturally they feel ill-equipped to teach it to their children.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      I imagine your students are just hungry for the knowledge and it makes me so happy that you have teaching them. I do agree that many parents don't talk to their kids about money because they don't feel good about their own financial situation. I sympathize but for me that would be motivation to change. Plus, I always remind parents you don't have to be experts to start talking. You can learn together!
  8. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    Great post...I like how you explained credit cards to your daughter. All to often, I hear little kids say that a purchase can be put on a credit card...thinking that the card magically pays for the item. And I think we don't give kids enough credit...they can surely understand financial matters and it is best to teach them about finances while they are still young.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      I hear kids all the time tell their parents to just put on their credit card or go to that machine that gives them money. They think it's a magic card, which I can understand from their point of view. For many years, I received some strange looks from store clerks but I wanted to make sure the girls understood that their father and I paid for everything we bought.
  9. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    When I was a kid, my mom used to give me $5 every Saturday for lunch between Ukrainian school and girl scouts, which was all in downtown NYC. I remember trying not to spend it all so that I could save a dollar or two each week for myself. I guess I cared about money even then.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Love it, Stefanie! We learn very early as kids the power of money and having some, so we can buy things we want, especially when we are kids and don't have bills or other financial responsibilities.
  10. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    I just finally got caught up on your blog. I started reading a few weeks ago from the beginning to reach current. Whew! What a lot of great posts and topics.

    Even though some info is a bit repetitive, I think it's good because it would be easy for a new reader to start at any point they find you and still get lots of good background info about you and why PF blogging and financial literacy are important to you. Thanks for some good reads thus far!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
      Wow! I'm impressed you read from beginning to end. :) Financial literacy is important to me as you now know and it must to be you as well. Thanks for introducing yourself to me.
  11. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    It is amazing to me how much they pick up and I walk a fine line between imparting financial wisdom and feeling like I'm discussing things that the little one really doesn't understand. When we went to look at washers recently, she kept asking how much they cost and it was hard to explain how we like to save money but don't always want to buy the cheapest thing available. I think kids are really interested in money, so it's our job to make sure they are taught the right things, even if they don't always seem to get it.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      It's true - sometimes it's hard to know when we're talking over their heads. But to me, anytime they express interest, I am willing to talk about money. Your daughter may not fully understand what you were doing, but she will remember that you saved money to buy something and you took the time to find the washer that fit your needs, beyond just the price. All good lessons for her to observe you and your husband doing!
  12. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    Kids do need to learn about money at an early age, I agree. This is a topic that we don't really explain to kids that well or even at all, and then we wonder why the debt cycle perpetuates itself...

    Great post, Shannon!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      It is a topic that too many of us don't discuss with our kids. And yes, to me, it is one of the biggest reasons why the debt cycle perpetuates itself. And I also think it something we can easily fix if parents start to prioritize financial literacy. I know we are not there yet but I'd like to believe we're heading in that direction.
  13. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    My son is saving up for an Xbox right now and just got a first hand lesson in money: He forgot to make saving up for tax part of his goal! At first he was upset that he'd have to save up even more. But I told him sorry: Everyone has to pay taxes!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      What a great lesson! It's easy to overlook taxes but a great lesson to learn because sadly - we will always have to pay taxes. :)
  14. Monday, March 17th, 2014
    I just sat here and read this post word for word to the hubs! We love it! Seriously can't wait to implement these with the twins!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, March 17th, 2014
      Awww….that's so sweet! I'm so glad you and your husband enjoyed my post. And I can't wait for you to implement these lessons with the twins either! :)
  15. Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
    My parents never taught us much about money, and as such, I had to learn the lessons the hard way. I definitely wish they had spent more time with us on smart saving, investing, and spending. I was always interested in money, but without much help, I became more interested in what it could buy than how to be wise with it. Definitely going to have my wife read this one and keep it in mind for when we have our first one (hopefully not for a few years, though).
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
      Many kids see that many is important and want it, in part because they always hear their parents say "if they had more money than…" So they want money too but often it's just to acquire things and not really think about what they truly want in life. I have no doubt that when you and your wife are ready to become parents that you'll teach your kids how to be money smart.
  16. Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
    Hi Shannon!

    Thanks for sharing this post with us. I'm so glad you joined the party. You're advice has been helpful for me so I know it can help other parents too.

    My kids are grown and now that my daughter has kids of her own, I'm encouraging her to teach her kids at an early age and not wait like I did.

    Great post! I hope you're having a great week :).
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
      Thank you for hosting the Every Woman Weekly. It's a great group of ladies and I always look forward to connecting with them. I'm glad you're encouraging your daughter to teach her kids about money when they are young. It really does make a difference.
  17. Thursday, March 20th, 2014
    Great post! Sorry, I had to laugh at the "we don't waste family money on interest charges" bit. :) It's incredible what they pick up. Anytime we go somewhere and I ask my 3-year old about her day, she changes the subject and then 2 days later tells me all things she saw and learned. They're always picking up what we're saying, so it's a great lesson for all parents, that they start to educate their children on how to be responsible with money.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 20th, 2014
      Isn't it amazing what they pick up?! It another reason why we need to be mindful of the things we say or do. We never know what they will pick up and mimic. Sometimes it's the things we hoped they didn't notice. :)
  18. Thursday, March 20th, 2014
    Many adults are struggling now financially and it's because of the bad decisions they made. We learned the hard way, so why not make sure our offspring start life better prepared? We're not gonna turn our kid into a 'banker' from childhood, but we'll make sure she has a good financial foundation. She'll have an easier life than us, that's for sure.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 20th, 2014
      Absolutely, Dojo. Most of us had to learn by trial and error and undoubtedly some of those mistakes could have been prevented had we had a good financial foundation growing up. It's great that you plan to make sure your daughter has that foundation!
  19. Friday, March 21st, 2014
    It sure is a myth in my house! Both my kids have an interest in money. How to earn it, how to earn more of it, and where to spend it. But that's because since they've been old enough to ask for stuff, we've been explaining money to them. As they've gotten older, they've had to work to get those "extras" between birthdays and Christmas. Just this week my 10 year old reached his goal of enough money to buy a prized Lego. Though he had finally earned the necessary amount, he still thought long and hard for two days whether or not he wanted to now spend it all. So yes, kids really can, and do, care about money!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
      Love it, Carol! I find when you empower kids to make good decisions with their money, more often than not - they do! My girls are the same way. Instead of asking me to buy them everything, they ask me for more ways they can earn money. And as excited as they are to buy their treasured item, they do take their time to make sure it's something they truly still want. They understand how precious money is and how hard they have to work to earn it.
  20. Saturday, March 29th, 2014
    We've been fortunate enough to be able to impart some financial savvy to our kids. It's been fun to see my daughters save money and choose what to spend it on based on future goals and current limitations. My oldest purchased a plane ticket to see a friend when she was 6! She has since gone on to buy other things like an iPad and crafts that she sells to make more money. In a sense it was our financial distress that led to this, so at least one good thing came out of being in debt up to our eyeballs! Now that we are debt free, we are looking forward to modeling responsible financial stewardship to our kids.
  21. Monday, August 25th, 2014
    Kids do need to learn about money. After all everything costs money and they need to know how to be responsible with it. Great post!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan