If you’ve ever heard that your children follow your example, then you’ve more than likely heard that we as parents should lead by example. It should be no different when it comes to the area of finance. I can remember making all the classic errors new adults make with money. I overextended, over spent, over charged, under budgeted and most things in between.
When we had our oldest, I began to see things differently. We still made errors, but through the years, we began to learn from them. Our focus was on taking care of our little bundle of joy and providing for her.
I knew early on that I wanted to teach my kids about things that I wish I knew growing up like money and education for example. I was adamant about showing her how to shop for bargains and how to keep money in her pocket versus letting it “burn a hole” in it. She learned how to look for deals, when to spend and when to save. I laugh looking back at how my then twelve year old, would ask me if an item was $20 cute or should it go back on the rack. Then later, as a junior or senior, I would hold up an item that I liked, and ask what she thought about it. Her reply would be, “Okay, is it $35 cute?”
This became the way we shopped for things. I believe it has helped us to stay focused on differentiating necessity and want. Not that we don’t buy wants because we do. It’s just that we’ve been able to determine the difference and decide if it’s worth it to us.
One of the things I mention in my book is how, “More than one in six students in the United States failed to reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.” Is this why so many people are in overwhelming debt?
I always find it humorous when I take either one or both of my children to the bank to deposit money into their account and the teller is beyond shocked. They have been signing and making their own deposits for years, but their surprise never seems to grow old. It has become second nature for my kids to do this. They sign in cursive, verify the amount on the check and their balance on the deposit slip. One of my favorite tellers once told my children that they were very lucky to have a mom who teaches them about money. I thought it was a kind thing to say and I did appreciate his thoughtfulness, but honestly I look at it like it’s just part of my job.
Teaching your children to be financially literate helps them to be able to weigh in on financial decisions later, so maybe they don’t fall into traps that are difficult to get out of.
Think of ways to teach your children about money. Do they understand what it is to work? Do they work? Do they know how to manage their money or do they blow the money the moment they get it? How do they view money? How do you spend? What types of philosophies have you imparted upon them about money? Remember that whatever you teach them is more than likely how they will view it. If not, it at least leaves an impression.
I encourage you to find ways to talk about money. My book, Life Skills & College Planning Made Easy, talks about financial literacy. I discuss things that are important for students to know. I tried to be concise and provide practical information that they can use. When your student goes to college, they won’t always have access to you right away. This book condenses information and gives them a starting point for learning about money.
It’s those little things that we can do to help them along the way.