By: Anissa Wright
As parents, we do all that we can to prepare our children for bright, productive futures. However, we may be failing to teach them good money management skills without knowing it? Our silence on family finances could be doing them more harm than good.
Growing up, my family didn’t discuss money openly. At least, not in a way that made sense to me at the time. I would hear plenty of, “Turn those lights out, you’re running up the electric bill!” or “What, you think I’m made of money?” I don’t think a week went by without the quintessential question, “You think money grows on trees, don’t you?” These patronizing parental tropes are endless and were often met with an eye roll or sigh (at least when they weren’t watching). But in hindsight, I doubt they had the effect on me my parents hoped for. That is, to get me to appreciate the value of a dollar.
Today, it’s not hard to understand where our parents were coming from. I would bet the farm that you have said some, if not every one of these quotes to your own children. Don’t worry, you are in good company. However, our frustration with their lack of dollar-appreciation will not be cured if we don’t apply a real remedy. We’ve got to talk about the money!
I’m not just talking about helping our children create a plan for the use of their allowances, birthday and Christmas funds. I’m referring to how we, as adults, manage our hard-earned capital in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for our families and prepare for the future. Why? Because one day your mini-me’s are going to go out into the world and incur their own set of expenses. And instead of assuming they will figure it all out, we must prepare them for what’s to come. This may not always be a comfortable exercise, but it is necessary. It will also hold us accountable to the standards of money management we want them to adhere to as responsible adults. So gather all the bills, pull out your budget and pour some hot cocoa for the kids. It’s time to have the money talk!
Here are five topics you need to cover when discussing family finances with your kids:
1. Prioritizing the budget! Discuss the family’s general budget such as what you have allocated for expenses, savings and leisure. Show them the monthly bills and how much is due (e.i., the light bill, grocery expenditures, the cost of eating out). Discuss how they fit into your budget and brainstorm ways that you can reduce expenses. (e.g., turning lights off when not in use, LOL!).
Their buy-in to the budget is just as important as yours. It will make them feel a sense of responsibility when helping out around the house, knowing they too are working toward the family’s budgeting goals.
2. Paying your bills on time: On most bills, there is a due date and minimum payment amount listed. There is also an additional amount that must be paid if the bill is remitted
late. Show them this and ask them if it were their money, would they rather pay more or less?
This is also a great way to introduce the consequences of not completing chores on time. Charge a “late fee” when expectations are not met. No one likes to lose money!
3. Incurring interest charges: Review your credit card statements with the kids and help them determine the interest rate incurred for purchases. Remind them that interest is the cost of borrowing money. Let them calculate the amount of money they would have to pay in the long run if only the minimum payment was made each month. This can be a huge wake-up call for both parent and child. Mind-blowing!
Check out https://bit.ly/395Hqyf to help you calculate your current interest rates.
4. Planning for Big Ticket Items: Is there a family vacation you all want to take this year, or a major purchase you are looking to make? Let the kids help you come up with ways to save so that it can be a family exercise in goal setting and patience.
The reward will not only be in the final purchase, but in the collective effort you and your family put forth to accomplish it.
5. Saving for the future: Discuss your plans for saving for retirement, unexpected expenses, or college. Remind them that saving is a very important part of money management and should be a top priority.
This is very important. Often we worry about paying creditors, but fail to pay ourselves. Be sure to emphasize the importance of setting aside money for the future.
While you should tailor your money talk according to your child’s age and what they are able to understand, you should not put it off. You will be amazed at how quickly children can grasp monetary concepts. The benefit of having open and clear conversations about family finances today will give your children a headstart on effective money management tomorrow.
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