As our children grow, we start to shift from basic survival skills (learn to use a spoon, brush your teeth, pee in the potty and not your pants) to real life skills. Teaching our kids about money is extremely important but we often put it on the back burner. If you feel like it’s time, but don’t know where to start, our Chatbooks Momforce can help! Here are a few guidelines that might get the conversation started.
Model it. This might be the main reason many of us hesitate to teach our kids about money. Who are we to teach our kiddos how to handle finances when our Target card is maxed out? But it’s never too late to learn. Read a book. Take a class. Do any little thing to change the trajectory of your family’s finances. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
She’s got skills. Managing finances well is a life skill. Learning how to earn, save, spend, and give money is just as critical as other school subjects. It’s not that money brings happiness, but you know what also doesn’t? Debt! Money brings freedom—freedom from stress and anxiety, freedom to try new things, and freedom to give outrageously to a cause you care about deeply.
Connect the dots. Make sure your children understand the connection between work and income. It sounds obvious to us as adults, but if we never give kids a chance to earn money (and then spend it wisely), the connection could take a while to click. When they’re older, they might make poor choices that don’t align with their financial reality—choices which could set them up for failure. Whether you’re Team Allowance or Team Living-Here-is-Your-Allowance, there are ways to connect work to income. Some parents give an allowance after their kids have done their chores. To others, chores are a given, but they assign extra tasks to complete to earn money. Either way, set up a payday where your child sees the direct correlation between the work he or she put in and the money earned.
Let them be little. We want our kids to be encouraged and inspired to earn money! So be careful not to make the tasks too difficult, maintain an unrealistic standard, or set the payday too far off. We also don’t want our kids to be worried about grownup problems. Teaching our kids about money doesn’t mean detailing our balance sheet to them. Keep it simple and add more detail as they get old enough to process that info.
Let them fail. Yes, it’s painful—we get it. But watching them blow their hard earned $20 on Pokémon cards or yet another Barbie set will be much easier than watching them blow it by signing a lease for a car they can’t afford. If we swoop in every time they fall short, they won’t learn. Experience is the greatest teacher.
Teaching our kids about money isn’t a one and done situation. It’s on ongoing conversation in which we look for opportunities to communicate why handling money well is so important. We might have a few “I told you so” moments, but we’ll also have some “Atta girl!” moments as well. The important thing is to just get them started. You’ve got this, mama!