Money isn’t taboo. The only thing that’s taboo is how we talk about it. Trust me… your child will listen if you actually engage them in (age appropriate) finance conversations, and they will grow up to be more financially savvy if you do.
1. Set an example. If you’re slapping down your credit card every time you go out to dinner, they’ll eventually notice. Or if you and your spouse are arguing about money, they’ll notice. Set a healthy example for them and they’ll be much more likely to follow it as they grow up.
2. Show them that things actually cost money. Instead of simply saying “this toy costs $10”, take ten dollars out of your wallet, put it in their hand, and have them pay the cashier. It sounds obvious, but your child is likely just standing around “waiting” for the cashier to say you can leave…rather than absorbing the transaction that’s occurring. So, make them a part of it. The same goes for college. Teach them that college costs money, and that attending doesn’t automatically mean they’ll land some high paying job…unless they plan intelligently for it. Opportunity costs money, and that price tag can vary greatly.
3. Don’t give your child an allowance, pay them a commission. My father used to pay me weekly for doing certain household chores. If I didn’t finish the chore, he docked my pay. Now that I’m an adult, i have learned that pay isn’t guaranteed. If you don’t do the job, you won’t reap the benefits.
4. If your child has a job (even if it’s just for chores), they need a budget. Don’t just handle the money FOR them, but rather, teach them to sit down and allot their funds. Guide them towards so much in savings (and explain why), entertainment, giving, and long term goals. Teach them to make their money work for them…not to work for money.
5. Don’t shame your kids. Don’t say “we can’t afford it”, tell them how many things they have, or make comments reminding them how expensive parenting is…because they may grow up feeling like a burden to you (their only source of mentoring). Instead, involve them in your own finances. Let them be a part of saving for holidays or vacations. Have them pay bills with you. Make money a transparent process, not a “I’ll give you what I want to give you” function…and they’ll quickly figure out the value.
6. Educate them on debt. There is so much more to borrowing money than saying “credit cards are bad”. Teach them how. Show them the math. Let them buy something on credit to you and deduct their weekly pay for 6 weeks to demonstrate it. Talk about how long (term) you should finance things for, and what shouldn’t be financed at all. Help them build credit. Be involved.
7. Open a bank account. Let them save and manage their own money just like adults do. Show them how dividends work, non sufficient funds fees, and pending transactions. If they learn young, they won’t get in over the head when they’re young adults. Ps. They can have a bank account at any age.
8. Teach them not to compare themselves to others. Don’t just say it… illustrate it. Your kid probably spends a good chunk of their time online Where they are seeing the highlight reel of their friends, family and even total strangers Contentment starts in the heart. Teach your child that their car (although not the newest car on the block) is still running well enough to get them from point A to point B, and that you can still throw parties and go on vacations without spending thousands and sacrificing something else later. Show them a sample budget of what your family would have to give up so they can have a brand new car. Make it real.
…but most important, be transparent. Teach your child to be a good steward of their money and end the pattern of diminishing generational wealth for your family.