As parents, we try to mold our youngsters into independent, financially responsible adults, but sometimes we make mistakes. Why? Because we want them to have everything we didn’t. And, of course, we love them and often use “money” to express our love. Laura Scharr-Bykowsky, CFP®, and I discussed money lessons on a recent PlanStrongerTV™ show. Okay, it’s “reality check” time. If we really love our kids, we not only have to be good role models, but we need to follow the old adage, and “teach them how to fish.” Children who are constantly given everything believe they’ll never have to worry about money. Nothing can be more detrimental to a child’s drive and ambition! Not only do they lose their incentive to work, but to save, as well. Consider these teaching moments with your kids:
Impulse Buying. How many of us have witnessed five-year-old “Tommy” having a temper tantrum in the grocery store because he’s been denied the “Dino Sugar-Bites” cereal? Tip: Say to Tommy, “I’ve already spent my budget for food today, but you can pay for the Dino Sugar-Bites from your allowance OR we can put something else you wanted back and get the cereal.” You’ll be teaching Junior that: 1. money is limited; 2. he can have a role in decision-making; 3. there are trade-offs in life.
Peer Pressure. Kids can get wrapped up in fads. “But, Mom, everyone else has ____” (fill in the blank). Try this. Ask your child, “What is it about ____ that you really like? Do you think you’ll still like ____ a year from now? Will you still have ____ five years from now?” If he still wants the item, and it’s something you are willing to purchase, say, “Let’s wait four weeks before we buy it.” Then, a month later, ask, “Do you still want ____?” He may not care about it anymore. If so, say, “Isn’t it good that we waited?” If he still wants the item, tell him that, together, you will comparison shop to find the best price. You’ll be teaching both restraint and the thought process that goes into a purchasing decision!
Grandparents, I know it’s hard, but all this applies to you, too! Refrain from fully funding college (or anything else)! Determine a set amount you are willing to contribute. For a child to gain financial responsibility and discipline, not only does he have to “learn to fish,” but he also has to have some of his own “skin in the game.”