What do flowers and money have in common?
They both grow! We were flower picking today and it inspired me to teach my kids about that essential aspect of money: If you don’t spend it all, it can grow. That’s it. My three year old now knows more than I did as a 22-year-old.
And we want our kids to rock in this arena, don’t we? It is so important that we teach our kids about managing their finances.
Before you even worry about what to teach your kids, and when, and at what age, and to what degree, and, and, and – stop worrying! Stop overthinking it. Remember this: when you (and your spouse together, if you’re married) realize you need to start teaching your kids about money, get excited! Why? Because you are going to lay two foundational layers that are also two wonderful benefits.
- You will become confident discussing money with your family.
- Your children will learn that they can trust their parents with their questions about money.
Confidence discussing money: It is important that money is not a taboo subject in your home. Let’s start from the faith-based perspective: If you set the tone in your house that managing God’s money well as stewards of His blessings is an important value to you, the parents, then the kids will grow up in a house that knows this is what is expected of them as well. They will know this, because it will be discussed plainly out loud. Money stress has a harder time piling up in a family where dialogue around finances is plain and common. It is easier to say “no,” because “it’s not in the budget,” and “yes,” because “it is,” if you have confidently laid the foundation that wise money management is a valid part of your decision making. Your kids will understand, or at least, be used to, the why, and you won’t seem capricious. Plus you will love saying good riddance to that awkwardness in trying to keep “it’s not in the budget” from your kids when they beg for Chick Fil A for the umpteenth time.
Your children will trust you: if your kids have seen you tell yourselves “no,” discuss budget items together, and they have heard you talk about money as a natural part of your lives, they will know they can trust you with their money questions. When kids start getting older, they pick up on things. I have a friend who knew her dad had financed a motorcycle without her mom knowing; the mother thought it had been done in cash. That friend did not think she could trust her parents with her questions because money was never discussed… unless you count at the top of their lungs during money fights… which I do not. Understandably, she felt awkward bringing it up, and even if her topic didn’t result in a knock-down-drag-out fight about money between her parents, she got the feeling they didn’t know how money worked anyway. Even if you don’t have all the answers, you want your kids to be comfortable talking with you and looking to you for the right thing to do. Remember what money expert Rachel Cruze says: More is caught, than taught. They are always watching us, the
darn stalkers cutie pies.
What to say if you don’t know the answer? “What a great question! Let me talk to Daddy/Aunt Sally/Mr. Rogers and see how they would answer that question and I will let you know what they say.”
If we are not the ones intentionally pouring good money habits into our kids, the banks, payday lenders, credit cards, and car finance departments will for us. Not a good plan!
That’s it. I think about teaching my kids about money a little bit in the same way as I think about teaching them about car safety. You start laying the foundation for your kids about car safety the day they come home from the hospital: when they are in the car, they are buckled in the car seat. The car does not move unless everyone is buckled in. As they get older, conversations about car safety get more in-depth (why don’t we text and drive? How do I change a tire? Why do you use a blinker?) and so do your responses. In the same way, money does not have to be the focus of a weekend outing, but rather, its wise management is a background context in your life. (Iyouou have littles and no idea where to start, start here: Money comes from work. Money can buy things. And, answer their questions as they ask them.) Lay the foundation out loud, honestly, based on Biblical principles and you will become confident talking about finances with your family and your kids will be confident they can trust you with their questions.
What are you doing to teach your kids to manage money well? Do they have a “debt-free money jar” like in our house or ask if Chick Fil A can be in next month’s budget? (LOL!)