Guest Posts

Teachable Money Moments – Missed Opportunities

Teachable Moment Moments: Missed Opportunities

I’m pleased to introduce Kayla from Shoeaholic No More to The Heavy Purse. Kayla is a new up-and-comer blogger who is working hard to eliminate her debt, so she can enjoy financial freedom. As you know, I am a huge proponent of finding those teachable moments to help you talk to your kids about money. Today, Kayla is going to share some missed opportunities, so read on to see if you’re making any of these same mistakes with your kids. Take it away, Kayla …

I’m sure there are lots of teachable money moments for kids. In fact, Shannon has talked about many of them here on her blog and in her books. But, just because there are lots of opportunities to teach kids about money doesn’t mean that parents are taking advantage of them.

A Few Missed Opportunities to Teach Kids about Money

When I was a kid, my mom had a container of coins in one of the lower kitchen cabinets. My brother and I were supposed to use this money to “pay” for our breakfast, lunch or supper as practice with money. Mom would tell us, “Ok, your waffles and juice costs $1.86,” and we would have to find the right amount of money to give her. While this is a great idea, in reality we didn’t get to practice very much because our parents didn’t often set aside a few extra minutes in their day to let us play this game.

My family went to church most every Sunday and when the collection baskets were passed around, my parents often had a check already written and in a sealed envelope to put in the basket. While I know now how important it is to give to charities and other causes, they didn’t take much time to explain that to us then.

I do remember getting a weekly “allowance” but only if our chores were completed and up to mom’s standards. We had lots of little household tasks to complete, like taking out the trash, washing and folding laundry, vacuuming, etc. I know this work didn’t hurt my brother and I, in fact I’m often grateful that we learned to work for our money! When we got our money each week, I think it was around $5 or so, we had to put a portion of it into our savings jars and the rest in our wallets for spending. Again, this was a fairly good lesson, but one thing we didn’t have to do was put any of it towards giving.

Once, I asked dad if I could take some of my money to put in the basket at church. He told me not to worry, he and mom handle that and would put money in the basket on behalf of our whole family. I know he was just trying to protect me and make sure I had money for things I wanted, but I think it could’ve been handled differently.

Not Talking about Money Changes – Good or Bad

I don’t remember my parents ever talking with us about their money troubles, they declared bankruptcy, or why we couldn’t do some of the things our friends got to do, like go on vacations. I’m sure they didn’t want to worry us.

Just a few years later, my family moved to a new town about 1.5 hours away. We bought a brand new house in the country and my mom always seemed to be spending money here, there and everywhere, despite the fact that she no longer had a job. To this day, I’m not entirely sure what happened and how they were able to afford this. I presume that they received some inheritance when my grandparents passed away, plus my dad had a new job and they haven’t really had money troubles since, but they never told us the “rules” had changed.

Now that I’m an adult I wish they would’ve talked to us more about money. Maybe then, we would’ve had a better understanding of how it works and also what NOT to do. Our money situation changed several times throughout my childhood and while I never felt concerned about money, it was confusing when all of a sudden we couldn’t spend money and then to turn around a couple years later and buy a brand new house and lots of “wants”.

All of these situations could have been learning opportunities if my parents had taken time to explain them to us. Instead, money was a confusing and taboo topic in my childhood home.

Editor’s Note: Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kayla. So many parents miss the opportunity to talk to their kids about money. I know money is taboo topic in so many homes, but we need to break the cycle. It’s hurting everyone. I know parents want to protect their kids, particularly from their financial woes, which is understandable. But kids already know something is wrong. You actually help minimize fear when you talk about what is going on in an age-appropriate manner and let them know that you’re fixing the problem. This reassures them, otherwise they continue to worry in silence. If you’re interested in sharing your story at The Heavy Purse, please see my guest post policy.

What teachable moments do you remember growing up? What can you do to help your kids learn about money?

Shoeaholic No MoreAbout the Author: Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore and follow her on twitter.

July 16, 2014  •  22 Comments  •  Guest Posts

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  1. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I love the idea about paying for your breakfast! Good way to teach money concepts to young kids, especially since it was "practice" and not for real.

    Ever since my daughter turned 2, we give her money to put in the collection plate. We've started using age appropriate language to tell her why she's doing that, but we have our check and she has her dollar. It's probably the one "money thing" we do right consistently.
    • Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
      That's a great start Kirsten! Keep it up and work with her more and more as it becomes appropriate for her age. You are headed in the right direction :)
  2. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    There's some important lessons here - thank you Kayla. Many parents have their children's best interests at heart and want to do all that they can to protect them. But by not talking about money, misunderstandings and missed learning opportunities can happen.
    • Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
      This is exactly right Hayley! I know you are other PF blogger parents are not making these mistakes, but we need to all do our part to get the word out to other readers who may or may not be making these mistakes with their kids.
  3. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I'm sorry that your childhood upbringing about money was inconsistent and confusing. We all make mistakes but, hopefully, we learn from them... eventually ;-)
    • Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
      That's exactly right, as long as we learn from our mistakes! Though I don't plan on having children of my own, I hope to be an influence in my future niece's and nephew's lives.
  4. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    Thanks for sharing your story, Kayla. It's nice to know a little bit more about you! Good luck on your journey to becoming debt free!
  5. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    Thanks Shannon for letting me guest post on your blog today! I really appreciate the opportunity to share more of myself and my story. I hope others are benefitting from this and other similar posts you've had.
  6. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I think a lot of teachable moments get passed on by parents because of constraints on time and energy. Though I do think they're incredibly valuable and worth finding the time for.
    • Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
      Yes it usually is due to time and energy for sure. But some are passed up too because of money being a taboo topic. This is what bothers me the most. We need to talk to our kids about money!
  7. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I think it's an important point to talk about money changes with kids because I think frequently parents underestimate their kids and they think that they won't notice a difference and they do and the worst part is that since you haven't explained it to them, they will just stress about it, which only makes the change worse. Kids can handle money talks way better than parents give them credit for.
  8. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I can relate to how you felt growing up. Our house and my parents were quite similar. They both worked hard, they earned money, they used the envelope system, they invested, they never used credit, and when times were tough, they found ways to be extremely frugal. But nothing was ever talked about. No lessons learned. In fact my mother actually got angry with me when I did try to share a bit of money that I had. I only realize these things now as I look back over the years.

    While my parents didn't mention anything specific about their finances, one thing my father was adamant about with me was that I build my own savings account. As soon as I was 12 he had me go to the bank to open an account and money I received as gifts from Grandparents, etc., as well as the money I earned when I started working at age 13, would go into that account. And I can still picture him asking me if he could look at my bank book (long time ago ;-) ).
    • Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
      I'm sorry you had similar experiences. I hope you've got it all figured out now and are better off for it!
  9. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    Thanks for sharing your story Kayla! I love the paying for meals idea, though I was really convicted by the point your parents didn't really take the time to really walk through that with you. We have three little ones and the older they get I see just how important taking that time is. Not only is it needed, but they want it. Taking advantage of those teachable moments is huge as a way to help establish a pattern and help them develop their own money mindset.
    • Thursday, July 17th, 2014
      You are right! Not only is it important, they truly want it and you want them to grow up remembering that you took the time to play with them and teach them things. My dad was way better about taking time out to play with and teach my brother and I things. Now as adults, we both have a way better relationship with him than Mom.
  10. Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    I believe that the best way to teach your child good money skills is through examples and daily life experiences. A trip to the supermarket is a great opportunity to open this discussion. For example, start by showing them how much an apple costs. Then compare that to how much laundry detergent costs, etc.
    • Thursday, July 17th, 2014
      Yes, that is a great idea too. My main point in this post was that there were plenty of opportunities, but my parents did not often take advantage of them. I sure wish they had and I'm hoping that others will see this and realize that it only takes a few minutes here and there to make a difference!
  11. Thursday, July 17th, 2014
    My parents didn't really talk about money with us kids, though we would see their frugal ways and it was implied that money was tight and money wasn't just to be spent frivolously. Fortunately, I followed my parents frugal behavior even now...but I do think that I will have to do a better job teaching my kids about money. Just being a good role model is great but may not be enough. I've seen many frugal parents with spendthrift kids because they reject the frugal "cheap" lifestyle and want something different.
    • Thursday, July 17th, 2014
      I agree with you, at least you had good role models :) In today's world with lots of peer pressure and pressure to "keep up" that may not be enough. Glad your are going to be proactive about teaching them to be frugal!
  12. Thursday, July 17th, 2014
    When I was a kid, my parents didn't teach me about money because my father had a good income. Now that I have my own daughter, I slowly talk her about financial matters, thankfully I'm a big fan of reading PF blogs. I want her to be responsible as early as now.
  • 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