To 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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