As I drive my kids from activity to activity, or simply to the store to run a quick errand, I’ve discovered one of the greatest gifts – I suddenly have a captive audience. No TV, no computer, no random toy on the floor.
In short, no distractions, and as such, it’s the perfect time for a little conversation.
We’ll chat about school, religion, family and friends. We tell jokes, discuss upcoming projects, and we also talk money. As a parent, I’m trying to strike the right balance on teaching my kids about finances, but not create mini-money monsters who obsess about every dollar.
So what do these conversations look like? Well, here are just a few of the recent car conversations we’ve enjoyed about money – in the car:
As we drove to pick up some camping supplies for an upcoming trip, my nine-year-old son declared that we should get a RV instead of sleep in tents. Sure, that would be awesome I said, but do you know how much a RV costs? Of course he didn’t, so I proceeded to tell him that a RV was a pretty major purchase requiring a hefty savings. If our family only camps a few times a year, is the savings and sacrifice worth the investment? Together, we came to the conclusion that it probably didn’t make sense, and he was able to learn a little more about what goes into making a big purchase.
While my boys say they plan to become professional soccer or baseball players, they also know they will go to college. The other day one of my sons mentioned he already knew where he wanted to go to school, so we talked about his choice and how he still has a number of years to think about his future university. We also talked about how we are saving every month for his education because college is expensive. Some schools are very pricey, others more affordable. Perhaps he would get some scholarship money, or maybe we might need to take out a loan, or he might need to take out a loan. He was shocked that he would have to keep paying for school even after he completed his studies. Let’s hope not, but it was a perfect opportunity to talk about planning and saving and paying.
Who doesn’t like to go out to eat? I certainly do, and so do my kids, especially when they get their dream meal of fast-food something. We rarely do fast food, but you better believe when I go through the drive-thru, I share how much a meal out for a family of five costs. Even the price of a fast-food meal adds up, and I want my kids to appreciate the treat.
I suppose the bottom line for me and my husband is that we try to make our kids a part of the money discussion. We want them to understand how we make financial decisions for our family so they become comfortable talking about money and choices.
Are we getting it wrong?
I’m sure there are moments when we share too much or share too little. Still, I find our time in the car provides the perfect opportunity to casually talk about how our family spends and saves money.
Have you found a great space or time to connect with your kids and talk about money?
Editor’s Note: Through the magic of twitter, Kerry and I have become good friends. I love how Kerry doesn’t shy away from talking to her kids about money and weaves money lessons into everyday activities. It’s truly the best way to teach them. Be sure to visit Kerry at Breadwinning Mama and enjoy her beautiful writing.
I love the way both you and Shannon find ways to include conversations about savings and expenses in your day to day regular activities with your kids. And I love your positive approach and the way you acknowledge your children when they suggest a purchase, like the RV situation. That is something I really missed out on as a kid.
We actually drove by a state penitentiary on our recent vacation, and she asked what it was. I told her it was the jail. She asked what you had to do to go there, and I said bad things. She asked if that was what happened if you throw trash in the water. Not quite, but I guess she got the point about not littering!