Teaching Kids About Money
Thinking back to when we were kids, if our parents
couldn’t afford something we wanted; we didn’t get it. End of story. Some
parents today indulge children way too much, thus the
value of money seems insignificant. Moreover, these kids
may think their parents are rich when, in fact, they are
trying to make ends meet just like the rest of us.
When it comes to teaching kids
about money, the sooner the better.
The old saying, “A penny saved is
a penny earned” is a wise tenet we were taught by our parents. Today, with
computers and electronics; PC games and iPods; cell phones and Blackberrys; the
latest fashions and footwear; one would need to save long and hard to afford any
of these things. For kids, wearing the most up-to-date clothes and sneakers is
foremost on their minds.
The art of teaching kids about money has to begin at an early age. So too, if
kids see their parents constantly buying new things; most likely they will want
larger allowances and become as frenetic in their buying habits as their
The word “no” has to be placed back into the vocabulary
when it comes to teaching kids about money and about the
fact that they can’t have
anything they want. Moreover, instructing them how to save for their future is a
method which has been lost in rearing some children today. Not any fault of
their own, our children are exposed to young actresses or teens who have
inherited great sums of money and they are pervasive on TV and in magazines.
When we were their age, and didn’t
have any money, spending a day at the park or enjoying each other’s company in
or outside our home were sufficient. Not so today. With malls incorporating
hundreds of high end stores, this is where the kids like to “hang out,” and are
thus engaged in looking at the expensive displays of clothes, jewelry and
electronics. Just this Christmas, kids begged for the new Nintendo Wii. Those
who were fortunate enough to receive them as presents should be thankful.
Unfortunately, what they do not realize is their parents probably have to work
overtime to pay for the cost of this expensive item.
How do we teach kids about money and the importance of saving for their future? No doubt, this is one
area parents are wrestling with every day. However, parents who incorporate an
honest approach in explaining money to their children, do succeed in bring home
the point – by example. Living with parents who were never considered rich by
any means, we soon learned the true value of saving money, and the consequences
of spending beyond our means. Kids cannot relate to the future; they deal with
each day as it comes. If they were asked: “How will you support yourself when
your dad and I are no longer here,” their likely response would be: “Why do I
have to think about that now” or “I don’t want to discuss it now.”
It is a discussion parents must
have with their children. There has to be an open dialogue where families can
discuss financial matters with children (at an appropriate age, of course).
Whether you buy a piggy bank for your infant; open a savings account; clip
coupons out of the paper with your child present; discussing purchases and
deciding as a family if it is affordable; these are the starting points at which
your child will begin to understand the how's and whys of saving money and the
ramifications involved when lack of money becomes a serious issue.
As parents, we all want to protect
our children and ensure their future is better than ours. But by not teaching
kids about money we are not protecting them, but allowing them to live in a world
where they believe money will always be available to them. By not showing
discipline in our own spending habits, we are denying them the basic fundamental
truth that money doesn’t grow on trees; that saving for their future is vital;
and that assuming they will always be taken care of is an erroneous one.
Conversely, maintaining limits by budgeting; carefully keeping track of
spending; and keeping the dialogue open by allowing children to participate in
family discussions about money, will give them a keen sense of awareness as to
the pitfalls derived by overspending and impart the importance of saving for
their own future.
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