My friend feels pretty good about the parenting job she did, except for one thing—teaching her daughter how to deal with money.
Of course, I reassured my friend that no parent is perfect. We all have things we could have done differently in retrospect. In fact, I could relate in many ways. For one thing, I wasn’t really taught much about finances either—which, long story short, left me acting pretty irresponsibly with money after I graduated from college. A bankruptcy, repossessed jeep, and cross-country trip later, I finally began to learn the hard way.
So, do your kids a favor and begin to teach them how to deal with money well before they leave home. Finances are a pretty key part of life, and your attitude towards money matters will greatly shape their own.
Here are four tips on helping your kids be financially responsible.
Encourage Them To Earn Their Own Money
The Save & Spend Rule
Encourage your kiddo to save a certain portion of his or her money, and then enjoy spending the rest. We recommend they save two-thirds and spend one-third. One of our VPP staff members jokes that her kids are so used to this rule that they ask to split up coins when they find them!
On the other hand, my daughter is horrible at saving money. It’s my goal to get her to save at least 20% of what she earns over the next few months. As opposed to the zero percent she’s currently saving. Make save/spend rules that work for you and your family that represent constant improvement. The most important thing is to get your kids in the habit of saving some money, and not just immediately blowing it all on gum, shoes, and hair products like my daughter does.
Check Your Own Attitude About Money
What do you want your kids to believe about money? Do you want them to think that everything gets handed to them in life? Do you want them to learn that money is a constant struggle? Please be aware that what you think and speak about money is going into your child’s subconscious mind. It’s not a bad idea to sit down and consciously decide (with your partner, if applicable) what you’d like your children to believe about money. What do you wish you’d been taught growing up? Then, make an effort to speak and act in ways that align with what you want them to imbibe.
Show Them The Basics
I’ll never forget thinking this as a young teenager: “Wow, checks must be really expensive, since you can write them out for any amount of money!” And my friend, the parenting guru, told me her daughter thought something similar once she was off on her own. When her daughter had a checking account for the first time, her bank fees were unreal. She’d gotten an account with overdraft. So she just kept taking money out without actually checking (or keeping any track of) the balance. She figured if she could take money out, it was fine. Three hundred dollars later in overdraft fees, she now knows something different.
So show your kids what it’s like to balance a checkbook. Teach them that you have to actually have money in that account in order to take it out. You know, the basics that all too many of us completely neglect to do for far too long.
We hope these tips help you learn from our mistakes so you can teach your kids how to have a positive money mindset, great work ethic, and the necessary tools to be financially responsible and thrive in any field they choose!