Teach Your Children About Money
I firmly believe that if we’d been taught more about investing and basic money management in high school (and younger!) my generation wouldn’t have some of the financial troubles that they do. I was lucky enough to have parents who taught me those lessons at home, but many of my friends weren’t so lucky. I don’t think much has changed for our own children. The schools just don’t have the time or resources to focus on basic money skills so it’s up to us as parents to educate our children.
We have to teach by example. If our children see us spending money on credit cards they think that the little plastic card is all you need to get your heart’s desire. We need to show them that the little plastic card produces a bill each month that must be paid. Pay it in full so they can learn the habit early.
Some people are hesitant (or refuse) to involve their children in their financial affairs. Up to a certain age I would agree. But at some point you need to involve your children at least a little bit so they can learn the process of money management and it will help keep you accountable for your actions. Having to explain your frivolous purchases to your children can quickly alter your own habits.
Your ultimate goal is for your children to be better off than you are. If you don’t teach them about how to manage money they could easily become worse off in their adult years. Don’t burden them with ignorance. If you don’t feel qualified to show them proper money handling skills then enlist the help of qualified professionals or family members who are skilled with money. The goal is not perfection. It’s basic education and hopefully preventing the already catastrophic credit card debt from spilling over into the next generation.
My favorite example of teaching money management within the home was setup by the Dilley family. They had sextuplets several years ago and learned a way to teach their children good behavior and money management at the same time. The kids earn Dilley Dollars for doing their chores and good behavior. The dollars are redeemable for video game time or can be converted to real money (50 cents real money for every Dilley Dollar) which can spent on real things. The kids are taught to save some of it and they learn to appreciate what it takes to make money in this world.
Whatever system you come up with, stick with it. Make your children accountable for their own spending habits and be accountable to them for your decisions. Admit your mistakes and do your best to lead them down the right financial path. Stick with the consequences of poor judgment. Of course you are the parent and make the final decisions, but the more you can involve them in the money processes of your household the better off they’ll be when they step into the real world on their own.