We teach our kids almost everything they know… whether we like it or not. Sometimes I wish my kids wouldn’t learn what I’m teaching. Right? I wish some of my bad habits wouldn’t rub off on my kids. Things like eating when I’m stressed out or using the cell phone in the car. I hope those bad habits skip a generation or two. But the fact is that our kids are watching us all the time and picking up on our good habits as well as our bad ones.
So what are you teaching your kids about money? Are you teaching them to fight with their spouse about money or to sit down and work out a budget together? Are you teaching them to be responsible with their money or that debt is a way of life? Are you teaching them they need to save for their futures or that someone will always be there to bail them out if they get into trouble?
How you live your life is directly impacting what your children know about money. Here is what I want my kids to know about money…
1. Saving money will make your life better. You will never be sorry that you have money in the bank. Having money available to you allows you take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Just because you don’t see an opportunity on the horizon doesn’t mean that one isn’t on the way.
Do I live this lesson? Yes. Do I communicate it? I really try. My son gets it. My daughter struggles with it. I try to point out times in life when having money saved has helped us in a pinch.
2. Debt takes away your future. Using debt is borrowing from your future. You promise to give away hours worked in the future to have something today. It literally takes away your future. I wasn’t just being philosophical.
Do I live this lesson? I try I certainly haven’t been perfect in the past. Do I communicate it? I don’t think we have really reached a point with my kids that debt has come up too much. My daughter understands that we have a mortgage and what that means. But we haven’t talked about it too much more than that.
3. Budgeting is essential. Controlling your money on a daily basis with a budget is necessary to meet your goals. You are making financial decisions on a daily basis. The budget is your guide.
Do I live this lesson? Yes. Do I communicate it? Just like debt this topic hasn’t come up too much. It’s come up a little with my daughter when she was talking about getting a cell phone. She offered to pay for it. I explained how much per month it would cost vs how much she earns per month. That changed her mind pretty quick! Of course this was before Republic Wireless came around, but even still she would need to come up with the money for the phone.
4. The time it takes to manage your money is worth it. I think the time you spend managing your money is probably the most profitable time you spend. You spend 40 hours per week earning your money. Is it too much to spend 1 hour per week tracking your spending and putting together a budget to make sure you keep some of it?
Do I live this lesson? Yes. Do I communicate it? I haven’t. Maybe I should take a few minutes and show my daughter how to put together a realistic budget and how we spend a few minutes each day making sure our money is doing what we tell it to do.
5. Honest communication with your spouse about money is a must. Half of marriages end in divorce. Of those, half cite financial problems as the cause. That’s crazy!
Do I live this lesson? Yes. Do I communicate it? No. My kids are 11 and 6. We haven’t really started talking about spouses yet! This kinda goes hand in hand with showing them our budget though. If you have a family budget then it’s tough to not communicate.
6. Money must be treated with respect. Money is important and needs to be treated as such. We spend so much of our time earning it, managing it, spending it, and stressing out about it that it’s crazy to just turn around and throw it away on avoidable expenses.
Do I live this lesson? Yes. Do I communicate it? I think so. We’ve talked a lot with both the kids about thinking twice about your purchases. We’ve talked about shopping for a good deal and impulse buying.
I think this was an interesting exercise. I encourage you to think about what you would like your kids to know about money and consider what you are communicating to them in each area. If you want some ideas I got the idea for this exercise from this article, 12 things I want my kids to know about money. I learned something about my own parenting. If you want to share your exercise in the comments feel free!
Talking to our kids can be tough… talking to our parents about money can be even harder.