Teaching your child how to be responsible with money is a daunting task for any parent. Especially when they see you constantly spending or using that borrowed money called credit. Every time you go into a store with them, advertising draws them in (right at their level) and then the ‘can I get that?’ and the ‘but I want a new one!’ become a constant thread in your shopping trips. You may simply opt for peace of mind, and never take them shopping with you. While that can be helpful, teaching children how to use money responsibly will benefit them in life, and it can also teach you a few things.
Wants vs. Needs
This is a common struggle between parents and kids – what is a want and what is a need. You as an adult know what needs are – a roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back; basically, what will keep you alive, healthy, and safe. Kids have a hard time discerning what this actually means, especially when they’re inundated with the instant gratification culture that they live in. Needs and wants will vary from family to family based on their income, values, and number of mouths to feed, keep this in mind as well.
This is very important to model and reiterate – so that our kids grow up to be responsible spenders, savers, and givers. If we give our children everything they want when they want it, then we are setting them up for a future of disappointment and expectation. Patience learned from saving and waiting until you actually have money for what you want, is a reward in itself.
Money Has Value
This is one of the first lessons that kids need to learn, ‘money really doesn’t grow on trees.’ You’ve heard it, I’ve said it. Money is earned and should be used responsibly to sustain your life and support your livelihood.
Allowance can be a helpful or hindering tool, depending on how you use it. It can teach them how to earn money by providing an incentive for scheduled chores or other tasks. Just be careful not to mix the lesson of ‘working for pay’ with trying to correct a behavioral issue by withholding the funds that they earn. Confusion will arise!
One of the hardest things about being a parent, in general, is knowing when and how to let go. When it comes to money and many other matters, a growing child wants to be trusted and treated as a responsible party. Of course, being their parent, we often think of how our child has been irresponsible; but if you want them to be independent someday, they have to learn how to handle finances and this is the start. You have to teach them and let them make the decision on how they will spend money, once they earn it. When they see how fast it goes, there is the beginning of understanding.