Do you remember when you were a kid and thought $100, or even $50 was SOOO much money? Me, too. I also remember when I got my first apartment at age 19, never seemed to have enough money. I had to micro-manage every penny. It was a real eye-opener to the realities of life, and what it costs to live in it. To be honest, until children move out on their own, I don’t believe they will ever have a real understanding of just hard it can be to make ends meet. There are simply too many expenses that they take for granted when they live at home. But when we teach children about money, we are preparing them to be as ready for adulthood as possible.
Right now my kids are in various stages of having no idea of the value of a dollar. They have no appreciation for money, or where it comes from. What they do have is a “want list” a mile long. At some point we all deal with this issue with our children. It’s our job as parents to make sure they gain some understanding of how to manage finances. It’s imperative if they are to be able to make sound financial decisions as adults.
As if financial responsibility versus “the latest and greatest” isn’t hard enough to teach, my children are growing up in two worlds. When they are with me, we live on a budget. Toys and gifts are saved for holidays like birthdays and Christmas, and if they want something in between, they have to earn it. Family activities center on quality time together while keeping within the budget, rather than going out all the time to keep them entertained. We clip coupons, have only one “tube” TV, basic cable, and no Netflix type options. The life my children lead when they are with their father is, well, let’s just say the exact opposite. In that world, my children each own not only every kind of toy, but they each also have a flat screen TV, laptop, tablet, and smart phone. Needless to say, their two worlds couldn’t be more different.
So how do we as parents know when they have too much, and have become spoiled? How do I teach my children financial responsibility and saving when they have the option of having it all when they are with their father, and who wouldn’t want that lifestyle? And honestly, this isn’t really different from what most parents face. Every one of your kids has that one friend who lives the “Keeping up with the Jones’s” lifestyle. How many times have you had to tell your children that they couldn’t have a new cell phone, outfit, game system, etc., just because their friends got one?
The past eight years I have struggled with this situation. I have read books and listened to financial speakers like Dave Ramsey. I’ve talked with other parents, and pulled on my own experiences from childhood. Every child is different, and mine are no exception. And of course they each respond differently to a dollar bill- making it an even bigger challenge to teach children about money. But my kids listened. After years of talking, saying “no”, and teaching them money saving concepts, they listened. Score one for the parents!
In the How I Teach My Kids About Finances and Home Economics mini-series, I am going to tell you the different strategies I use to get through to my children. I share how I’m getting them on the right track to financial health and making the most of their lives. Be sure to check back each week to read the new posts. You can also subscribe to have it sent right to your inbox!