Parenting children is complicated. We love our kids and we want to help them in any way we can. We want them to feel happy and carefree, but we also want them to be self-sufficient and humble. How do we give our children the life we “wish we had” without contributing to the growing problem of entitled, maladjusted adults?

7 Tips to Raise Grateful Kids


1. Say no

And mean it. Saying “no” is a way to teach children that life doesn’t always go their way. That’s an important lesson to learn from a young age. Sure, your child might want something — a toy, candy, pair of shoes, or a new car — but that doesn’t mean they should get it.

The word “no” is only effective if you say it and mean it. When you say no, stick to it and establish healthy boundaries with your kids.

2. Make them work for their money

Children have a hard time appreciating the value of a dollar if they’ve never worked for it.

For younger children, pay them to do household chores or for contributing to the house beyond their normal duties.

The quickest way to get teenagers to respect money is for them to earn and have money of their own. Encourage them to get a part-time job or a side hustle for their “going out” money. And it goes without saying that every woman should have access to “her own” money.

 


3. Make them pay for their wants

Once your kids are working, they should “contribute to the cause”. Special clothes, upgraded cell phones, or gas/insurance for the car are all “luxury” items (not necessities) that they should contribute to. This is a way for them to start connecting the dots between time and money. Sure, you can have that $160 pair of shoes but is it worth 15 or 20 hours of work?

If you have young children, have them save some of their allowance in order to purchase a toy rather than just buying it for them. The experience of having to part with money that took time and effort to acquire is essential. Just remember the younger the child, the shorter the attention span, the smaller the purchase.

4. Teach them to serve others

If you want your kids to have a more realistic vision of the world around them, let them see it. Set up opportunities for them to volunteer to help the less fortunate. Have conversations about how other people live and go deep into the decisions and circumstances that contribute to their situation.

It’s easy to complain about how “unfair” it is to have to pay for your car insurance until you see someone who literally has all of their possessions in one box. We could all use a dose of humility at times.

5. Teach empathy

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. To be able to see the world through their eyes. If you want to raise grateful children, teach them empathy.

The most effective way to teach empathy is to model it for your children. Both in word and action, be empathetic towards others. Be cautious not to judge others and never disparage them as people. This doesn’t mean you exonerate bad behavior but you can separate the behavior from the person.

If you model this behavior, chances are they will too. Additionally, when the opportunity to “judge” a peer arises, ask your children to put themselves in their shoes and to think about what could be contributing to how they’re acting. Don’t be surprised if you learn as much from them as they learn from you.

 


6. Teach gratitude

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus.

Having a grateful temperament is one of the greatest attributes you can instill in your children.

Research shows that an attitude of gratitude leads to more positive emotions, improved health, the ability to deal with adversity, and the ability to develop strong relationships. Grateful people also make better friends, spouses, employees, and co-workers. So, do yourself and your children the great service of teaching gratitude.

An easy way to get started is to build the simplest and most fundamental of habits: teach them to say “thank you.” They’re magical words. They do so much for the giver and the receiver.

And they’re in short supply.

I don’t know if parents aren’t teaching it to their children or if children are ignoring their parents (parents and children alike are blaming each other as we speak), but there’s clearly a shortage of “thank you’s” floating around.

Exhibiting sincere thanks when someone does something for us is not only good manners but the cornerstone for cultivating a grateful heart.

7. Teach that money is a tool

It’s important to teach our children what role money plays in our life. They need to know money is a tool to help us accomplish the important things in life. That money is neither inherently good nor evil. That money is a means to an end, not the end itself.

When we view money as a tool to be used to supply us the goods and services we need to live a fulfilled life, we relinquish some of the power it has over us. Money isn’t something to be worshipped, but a resource to be harnessed and put to use to enable us to live our best lives.

There are many other ways to raise grateful kids. What tips do you have for raising grateful kids? What has worked for you?

 

Want to learn more about money and how to best navigate your finances in a way that speaks to you as a woman? Click here to learn about our Money Like Never Before Course.

 

Parenting children is complicated. We love our kids and we want to help them in any way we can. We want them to feel happy and carefree, but we also want them to be self-sufficient and humble. As parents, we give and give and give, and we hope that one day our kids will acknowledge and appreciate this fact (haha, yeah right). So, how do we provide for our children in the best way we can without raising them to be entitled?

7 ways to avoid raising entitled children

 

  1. Say no. And mean it. Saying “no” is a way to teach children that things don’t always go their way. Sure, they might want something – a toy, candy, a pair of shoes, or even a new car, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. The word “no” is only effective if you say it and mean it. Even if your kids take you saying “no” as a challenge to ask until you change your mind, you have to stick to your guns and don’t give in. The short-term pain you endure will more than pay off by having children who understand the meaning of the word “no.”

     

  2. Make them work for it. Children have a hard time appreciating the value of a dollar if they’ve never had to work for it. If you have teenagers at home, they should be working. They don’t need to find a full-time job and start paying rent but they’re old enough to find a part-time gig or a side hustle to earn some spending money. Kids need to understand where money comes from and it comes from work.

     

     

  3. Make them pay. Once your kids are working, make them pay for things. Their clothes, cell phone, or gas for the car. This is a way for them to start connecting the dots between time and money. Sure, you can have that $200 pair of shoes but are they worth 20 hours of work? If you have young children, you can achieve the same end by having them use their birthday or “Christmas” money to purchase that shiny, new object rather than just buying it for them. The experience of having to part with their own money is a critical component to helping them understand the value of a buck.

     

  4. Expose them to diversity. If your kids go to private school and see all of their friends driving up in BMWs, returning from family vacations in the Maldives, and wearing $300 jeans, this will become their normal. How could it not be? It’s what they see day in and day out.

    If you want your kids to have a more realistic vision of the world around them, show it to them. Set up opportunities for them to volunteer and help the less fortunate, have straight-forward conversations about how most other people live. Better yet, lead by example. Forgo the designer jeans and stop buying the newest iPhone every time it comes out. Show them success in life isn’t defined by the toys you possess.

     

  5. Teach empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. To be able to feel what it’s like to be in another person’s position. If you don’t want to raise entitled children, teach them empathy. Help them feel what it’s like to struggle with money. Talk to your children about how their friends may feel if they’re bragging about their cool new $200 earbuds while their family is struggling to just pay the bills at home. Don’t rely on them to connect the dots. Help them.

     

     

  6. Teach gratitude. “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus. If only we could instill this mindset in all of our children. Not to mention all adults.

    Teach your children to be grateful for what they have, to never take for granted their good fortune. Research shows that an attitude of gratitude leads to more positive emotions, improved health, the ability to deal with adversity, and the ability to develop strong relationships. Grateful people also make better friends, spouses, employees, and co-workers. So, do yourself and your children the great service of teaching gratitude.

    An easy way to get started is to teach your children to say “thank you.” I know that sounds obvious but have you encountered young people lately? There’s a serious lack of “thank you’s” being offered these days. That’s not the fault of the children, it’s our fault as parents. Good manners – and a grateful heart – are distilled down from parents to our children. Another way is to teach gratitude is to go around the dinner table before eating and have everyone share one thing in their life they are grateful for. It’s a simple but powerful habit that can have a positive, lifelong impact.

     

  7. Teach them money is a tool. At it’s most fundamental level, money is simply a tool to help accomplish goals and meet life ambitions. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself. It’s important to teach our children money is not something to be worshiped or hoarded. It’s perfectly fine to want to “make a lot of money,” but we must always keep in mind what money’s role in our life should be. There’s nothing wrong with “being good with money” as a source of confidence in our lives but it should never be a measure of our self-worth.

 

 

Are you aware of the environment you’re creating between you and your teen when it comes to talking about money?

If you find that your teenager isn’t eager or even willing to speak to you about money, there’s probably a good reason as to why. You might be creating an environment in which they feel talked down to, misunderstood, or uncomfortable.

Here are three reasons that your teen might be shutting down when you try to talk to them about money and how you can make changes to improve the conversation.

 

You’re always in lecture mode

 

We’ve all done it. We plan to have a back-and-forth discussion with our teens about money and it turns into more of a one-sided lecture.

As parents, we’re all prone to this way of speaking to our kids, especially when it comes to money. However, no one likes being lectured or told what they should do.

When it comes to talking to your teenager about money try to approach the conversation as if you’re talking to one of your closest friends or work colleagues. You can try the following:

      • Avoid taking an authoritative or know-it-all stance
      • Avoid shaming, judging, or making assumptions
      • Ask questions and promote a two-way conversation
      • Be respectful and talk to them as an equal

 

 

You listen to respond not to understand

 

It’s often difficult for parents and teenagers to understand each other’s perspectives. We can get too wrapped up in our own thoughts and instead of trying to listen and understand our teenager, we do too much talking and teaching.

As the adults in this relationship, it’s up to us to explain the topic of money in a way that our teenagers can comprehend it. We can’t blame our kids for not understanding our message. We must own the outcome of these conversations. We need to try different ways of communicating until we find a strategy that works.

Storytelling is one method you can use to present money conversations in a way that is easy to understand. Share a story about a time you made a major money mistake. Ask your teenager what they would have done in your situation. Then talk about what you learned from this experience.

This strategy can be effective because it shows your teenager that you’re not perfect – you struggled to understand your finances and you don’t expect them to know everything.

It also demonstrates that it’s okay to mess up when it comes to money and to use our mistakes as a way to learn.

You’ve made money too emotional

For many, money is a loaded topic. It can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, or embarrassment. Often it’s us as parents who take the topic of money off of the table. We don’t want to talk about it because it makes us feel uncomfortable and then we pass down our emotional baggage to our kids.

If you want to break this cycle and prevent your kids from thinking that money is taboo, there are things you can do.

      • Make money a safe topic. Make a point to talk about money often and in a calm manner.
      • Be honest about your financial situation. If you’re going through a rough patch it’s okay to tell your teen, but try not to pass along any stress or fear.
      • When your teenager has a question, always be willing to help them find the answer.
      • Teach your teens that money is not inherently good or bad. Instead, it’s a tool. It’s what we use to buy the things we need and the things that we value.

 

 

 

It’s time to start a new money conversation

 

If your parents passed down their emotional money baggage to you, it’s time to break the cycle. Put the topic of money back on the table and make it something that’s easy for you and your teen to talk about.

 

 

Do you have a teenager who’s in high school or preparing to graduate? If so, you’re probably wondering, “where has the time gone?”

It might seem like just yesterday you were changing diapers and rocking your little one to sleep and now they’re preparing to go off to college. Time really flies!

While this is an exciting time for your teenager, you might be feeling a bit unprepared, both emotionally and financially. It can be incredibly challenging to find enough money to pay your bills, pay for your kids’ activities, and save for your retirement, let alone put money aside for an expensive college education.

If your child is preparing to go to school and you don’t have anything saved, don’t beat yourself up about it. There are still things you can do to help them out and set them up for success.

 

What to do if you haven’t started saving for your teens’ college education.

Even if you have regrets about not saving for your kids’ education, try to focus on all of the wonderful things that you have been able to provide. Look towards the future and focus on the things that you can do.

 

Give yourself an education.

If you’re feeling a bit out of control because you have nothing saved for your teens’ college education, you can ease your worry and fears by educating yourself on the available options.

As it’s said, knowledge is power, and sometimes merely being aware of your options can make you feel more in control of the situation.

You can start by checking out the Federal Student Aid website where they have a list of resources to help you and your teen prepare for college. They have a section of the site that’s aimed directly at parents to help you understand the costs associated with college and the type of financial aid available.

 

Run the numbers.

How much is your teens’ education going to cost? Do you know? Have you run the numbers? If not, it’s a good idea to get it on paper (or a spreadsheet) so you can see the numbers in black and white.

You can compare how much it will cost if your teen gets into an out of state college versus a community college. How much will you save if they can live at home versus in residence? You can even estimate the cost of books and supplies to get a realistic idea of the overall cost. Who knows, maybe it won’t be as bad as you initially thought. Definitely include your teen in this exercise so they share an understanding of the financial commitment of college.

 

 

Get your teen involved.

Be honest with your teenager and explain that you can’t cover the full cost of their education (if that’s the case). Tell them how much you can contribute. Have a conversation about their financial options and even encourage them to start saving some of their own money to put towards their education. If they have a part-time job, talk about putting some of their paycheck towards tuition. If they don’t have a job, perhaps it’s time to start looking.

Also, encourage your teen to start looking into scholarship options. They don’t have to be a straight-A student to qualify. There are scholarships that support students who are musically inclined or those who speak another language and many more.

Your teen can also look at taking AP classes to earn college credits while they are still in high school.

 

Every little bit counts.

Okay, so maybe there’s no way you can cover the full cost of your teenagers’ education, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Every little bit counts. Even if you can save enough to cover your teens’ textbooks during their first semester, that’s still a helpful contribution.

If you want to bulk up your college savings in the short term, you can look at your current spending and evaluate where you can make reductions or cuts. Cancel your cable or any unnecessary subscriptions, stop eating out, defer that vacation. Then take this money and redirect it towards college savings.

 

Consider all options.

While getting a college education is a great plan, it’s not the only plan. It’s a great idea to consider all of the alternatives before diving straight into a four-year bachelor, especially if it’s going to create a ton of student debt. Sit down with your teen and review some other options, including:

      • Community college (generally more affordable than university)
      • Trade schools (can often work and earn while you go to school)
      • Gap year (take a year off to work and save money)
      • Join the military (Military Tuition Assistance can be used to pay up to 100% of tuition expenses)
      • Entrepreneurship (start your own business, no expensive four-year degree required)

 

 

What action will you take today?

Pick one thing you can do and start today. Whether it’s running your numbers or having an honest conversation with your teen about their options, taking action will help you feel more in control of the situation.

And remember, while most parents want to help their children pay for their post-secondary education, it’s not always doable. Funding and scholarships are available to help ease the economic burden, and you can work with your family to come up with creative ways to cut costs.

 

The topic of money should never be off the table. If we want to raise teenagers who have a healthy relationship with money, we need to talk about it. For some, this seems obvious and it’s a walk in the part. For others, it’s more like nails on a chalkboard or two stray cats getting in a victorious Tik Tok street fight (you know the ones).

For those who are having difficulties finding ways to speak to or capture the attention of their teens, we’ve outlined five outside-the-box ways to engage them.

Good luck – you’re gonna need it! (jk)

 

5 Unique Ways to Talk to Your Teens About Money

 

1) Let them eavesdrop on your money conversations

Your teen may not be excited to have a formal sit down discussion about money. Instead, let her overhear you talking about money regularly.

 

 

This is often a more “authentic” way to broach the subject of money with your teen. Teens can be highly suspicious (and critical) of their parents’ motives, particularly when it comes to money. When they “overhear” your money conversations, their guard is down and they’re more likely to accept your words without qualification.

In a perfect world, she might even try to join the conversation or even bring up a money-related topic that piqued her interest. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of forward momentum to get the money talks flowing.

 

2) Enjoy a money-themed movie night

Introduce money concepts through a medium everyone can enjoy — movies. Find a movie or documentary where a character’s relationship with money is the central part of the storyline. A movie about money can help spark interesting conversations and even some questions about a term or concept your teen doesn’t understand. It also gives you an easy in for starting a money-related conversation without her giving you the death stare.

 

 

Here are a few movie suggestions with some classics and more recent recommendations.

      • Wall Street
      • Catch Me If You Can
      • Jerry McGuire
      • Slumdog Millionaire
      • The Company Men
      • Clueless
      • The Pursuit of Happyness
      • The Big Short
      • Inside Job

 

3) Give them the straight facts

You might surprise your teen with your openness and transparency if you are willing to share your budget, bills, and other details regarding your finances. Show them how much you make, how much you spend every month on expenses, and how much you have leftover.

 

 

Bringing them into your money world is incredibly powerful. It’s real to them, it shows you valuable their input and respect them as an equal. This shows them you trust them.

Further, ask for suggestions such as where you could trim the budget. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about things like fixed expenses and discretionary spending. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few conversations before the information sinks in. Building good money habits early in life is one of the keys to financial success in adulthood.

 

4) Put them in the driver’s seat

Most teenagers are eager to have more control over their lives, they want the power that comes with being an adult. So, give them a taste. Put them in the financial driver’s seat and let them decide how to budget and spend the family’s money for the next month.

 

 

Of course, you’ll be there as a mentor to ensure your monthly salary isn’t used to buy a boat or new iPhone’s for everyone, but make an effort to give them control. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. The opportunity to make real-world decisions with real-world implications is the epitome of hands-on learning.

 

5) Make a game of it

Plan a family game night and introduce money concepts through play. Engage in friendly competition with a round of Monopoly or Life. Or, if you want to up the ante, have a poker night. Tell your teens they have to use their own money if they’re going to play. It takes plenty of valuable skills to be a good poker player or to win in money management.

 

 

Things like:

      • How to calculate risk
      • The importance of delayed gratification
      • How to control your emotions
      • The difference between luck and skill

 

How Will You Start the Conversation?

Fostering an environment where money talk is commonplace and encouraged is one of the best gifts you can give. As you can see, this doesn’t require having formal, “sit-down” conversations. Sometimes, the best strategy is to introduce money talks in an indirect way and let your child’s natural curiosity and interests take over. You know how different the conversation is when it’s their idea!

 

 

And remember, this isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. The more you talk about money and the more opportunities you give them to learn, the better equipped they’ll be to take care of their finances when they leave the nest and go out in the real world.

 

 

Words matter. The things you say over and over again – let’s call them your “mantras” – they matter. What you say about money – your “money mantras” – they really matter. This is especially true if you live with impressionable teenagers.

If you haven’t noticed, we pass down money traditions as easily as we pass down holiday traditions. Why do we continue to serve cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner even though no one eats it? Oh, that’s right – “that’s how mom did it.”

It’s one thing to carry on inconsequential family traditions for emotional reasons. It is entirely different to pass down damaging family traditions such as thinking money is the “root of all evil” or “it’s not ladylike to talk about money.”

The foundation of how children view money comes from their parents. We are their financial trainers. If we want them to have a healthy relationship with money, we need to be careful about what we say and how we say it.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the harmful money mantras parents spread. Let’s inspect their effect on our children and how we can reframe the conversation so it is received in a positive light.

 

“$150 for sandals? I can’t believe how much this costs.”

How you interpret it: I can’t believe companies charge so much for this stuff and get away with it. It’s just ridiculous.

How your teen interprets it: There she goes again, making me feel guilty about buying me stuff. I can’t wait until I have my own money and don’t have to hear this crap.

First off, let’s assume your intention isn’t to guilt your kids into better behavior (hint: it never works). But, that doesn’t mean your teen isn’t taking it that way. To you, your comment is just you blowing off steam about the ridiculousness of companies. To your daughter, it’s you belittling her and making her feel like she’s being selfish.

 

 

Repositioning: Before going to the store, have a conversation about what you’re willing to spend and why. Start by asking what she considers to be reasonable and then share your thoughts.

How to reframe it: Most kids have no idea how much something “should” cost or what you can afford. This is your opportunity to teach your daughter lessons in value and affordability.

You don’t want to make your kids feel guilty for wanting something that happens to be expensive. You might say, “This item costs a bit more than I wanted to spend, maybe we can look for something similar that’s closer to our budget.”

 

“We can’t buy that right now. Wait until it’s on sale.”

How you interpret it: I’m being smart with my money. There’s no need to pay full price when I know it will be cheaper in a few months and we can get it then.

How your teen interprets it: Ugh, if I hear that one more time … why is she so cheap? I wish we could just buy something without it having to be on sale. Does this mean we’re poor? We’re such losers.

Being frugal is a good thing. As adults, we understand this. However, your teenager isn’t going to give you a high five for your smart money decisions, nor will she be excited to wait for that thing they want right now. Remember, delayed gratification isn’t usually a teenager’s strength.

 

 

Repositioning: This is another golden opportunity to flip the script and teach your teen about money how money works. Show her how buying things on sale benefits her. She can’t connect the dots between saving money today and being able to buy more things tomorrow with those savings. She needs you to open her eyes.

How to reframe it: Instead of saying, “we can’t buy this until it’s on sale,” try this: “is buying this right now worth it? You know we won’t be able to buy something else later because we overspent on this today. You can either get this item now or, if we wait, you can get both items later. Your choice.”

If she chooses to “have her cake” now, it’s critical you don’t let her “eat it too” later. She must understand that immediate gratification comes with a price to be paid for later.

 

“Money isn’t something we talk about, it’s private.”

How you interpret it: Talking about money makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel equipped to answer your questions about money.

How your teen interprets it: I’m not allowed to talk about money. It’s rude, classless, and something I should keep to myself.

Of all of the things we say about money, this is arguably the most damaging. By taking money conversations off the table, you prevent your teens from asking important questions and learning how to manage their money.

 

 

This money mantra often spans multiple generations as it’s hard to fix a problem you’re not aware of. Further, the true impact of “money silence” doesn’t show up until later in life as women carry this viewpoint into their adult relationships. Money remains one of the leading causes of divorce, and women being “taught” to keep quiet about money is a contributing factor.

This has to stop.

Teach your daughters they can and should talk to you about money. If you are uncomfortable with the topic, set up a conversation between your teen and your financial advisor. Or, go online together to research and find resources to help answer their questions.

How to reframe it: ”I know money can sometimes come across as a taboo subject, but I want you to know it’s not in our household. We can and should be talking about money. If you get your money right, it can help solve or prevent a lot of other problems in life, so let’s not avoid it.”

 

“Don’t focus on money, focus on what you’re passionate about.”

How you interpret it: Money is essential, but it’s not the most important thing. Start with what you’re passionate about and see how that meshes with your career opportunities.

How your teen interprets it: I just got the green light to be an art history major and attend an expensive private college.

“Follow your passion” works great on a motivational poster, but it can be one of the most damaging philosophies to follow. The art history major who “followed her passion” to the tune of $125,000 in student loan debt and few job prospects is starting life in a huge hole.

Teens lack perspective. They’re idealistic and a bit naive (which is why we love them), but they need you to provide perspective, not platitudes. You don’t need to be a dream crusher, but you need to be a reality check.

 

 

How to reframe it: Instead of saying, “follow your passion,” encourage them to pursue their interests and strengths while being realistic about job potential. They also need to be realistic about the income they need to live the life they want. Being passionately poor isn’t a way to a fulfilled life.

The truth is, it’s rare that our passions are fulfilled by our work. It’s also unnecessary. It’s okay for work to be work and your passions to be your passions, and never the twain shall meet.

 

“Do you know how much that costs? We can’t afford that.”

How you interpret it: Does she think money grows on trees? There’s no way we can afford that. I don’t know why she keeps asking me to buy stuff we can’t afford. She knows better.

How your teen interprets it: I don’t get it. We live in a nice house and drive nice cars. We go on nice vacations, too. Why can’t we afford something nice for me? Every time I want something, she shoots me down. It’s not fair.

 

 

This happens a lot. You provide your children with a comfortable lifestyle, and they assume you can afford to buy them a pair of $150 sandals.

Can you blame them? Chances are you haven’t pulled your kids into your financial life and showed them how much money you have after paying for all of those nice things they have. They only know what they see. When they identify an inconsistency between what they see (the nice house and vacations) and what they hear (“we can’t afford it”), it’s confusing for them.

How to reframe it: Instead of saying, “we can’t afford it,” especially if that’s not true, you can say, “that’s not something I’m willing to spend that much money on; it’s not worth it.” Or, if you genuinely can’t afford it, walk them through why you can’t afford it. Nice things cost money, usually lots of it. Oftentimes, this means less money for other things. There’s only so much money to go around, but kids don’t know this. It’s our job to educate them.

 

“You should be more grateful for what you have, when I was a kid …”

How you interpret it: I do all of this stuff for them. I work long hours, I sacrifice my personal time driving them everywhere, I haven’t bought myself anything in forever, and this is the thanks I get.

How your teen interprets it: If I have to hear one more time about how bad she had it growing up, I’m going to lose it. I didn’t ask them to have me. The least they could do is not act like they did me a favor by having me.

Sometimes being a parent is a thankless job. No, scratch that, oftentimes being a parent is a thankless job. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, but that’s rarely recognized by our kids. You’re probably gonna have to wait until they are grown with children of their own before they appreciate the sacrifices you make for them.

 

 

How to reframe it: Let’s face it, teens are self-centered. The world revolves around them, so anything referencing “your childhood” falls on deaf ears. Step one is to take the focus off you; they don’t care about how hard you had it. Step two is to help them to discover why they should be grateful. Not in comparison to you, but in comparison to those around them.

We all know people in our circle who are less fortunate than we are. Help your kids walk in the shoes of kids who are less fortunate than they are. Help them appreciate what they have – to be grateful – instead of focusing on what they don’t have. And, please, don’t make them feel guilty for having as much as they do.

 

“Sure, get it; we have plenty of money.”

How you interpret it: I’m so thankful to be able to provide for my kids in ways my parents weren’t able to provide for me. I promised myself that I would never tell my kids, “we can’t afford it” after hearing it over and over again as a kid.

How your teen interprets it: Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

If you buy your teens whatever they want, whenever they want without talking them through the money part, you may be setting them up for failure later in life. Or, setting yourself up for failure by creating an entitled child. It’s wonderful to be able to provide all that money can buy for your little darlings, but they grow up, and when mom and dad aren’t there to take care of them, significant problems arise. Entitled children aren’t born, they’re created.

 

 

How to reframe it: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Saying “no” to your children teaches them valuable lessons about how the real world works. Namely, you don’t always get what you want.

It also gives you an opportunity to teach kids about money and its role in life. Additionally, your children may find it difficult to replicate your financial success. They will have to make difficult money decisions, decisions you don’t have to. You don’t want them to learn these things when they’re on their own and the stakes are high.

 

Do you need to reframe your money mantras?

For better or worse, as parents, we are the primary source of our kids’ money education. Our behaviors and words matter. The money mantras our teenagers take with them into adulthood are the result of our words and observable behavior. We may not intend to impart our money philosophies onto our children, but we do so nonetheless.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been known to utter one or more of the money mantras on this list. Hey, we’re all human. There’s still time to change your approach and reframe the conversation. There’s still time to raise financially responsible teens destined to become financially responsible adults.

Now it’s your turn to share. We want to know – what are your money mantras? Are you worried your words are impacting your children’s money mindset negatively? Or, do you have a positive money mantra you’d like to share? Let’s start the conversation!

 

Your kids.  They’re your everything.  You give your all to them in the hopes they have a joyful and fulfilled life.

The sacrifices parents make for their kids is almost a badge of honor amongst parents, especially moms.  “That’s just what you do for you kids” is a refrain repeated over and over by parents everywhere. It’s even said about adult children.

It’s a noble refrain.  What’s more important than taking care of your children?  It’s pure. There’s no quid pro quo when you give to your children.  It’s all about them.

Which is why it’s one of the more abused phrases in the parental lexicon.

“That’s just what you do for your kids” has become a catch-all phrase to justify even the most over-the-top financial decisions.  It’s used as justification for buying things we can’t afford and taking on the financial burdens of our adult children. And it’s become a scourge to a growing number of would-be retirees as they struggle under the weight of their adult children’s financial issues.

What Are We Teaching Our Kids By Giving Them Everything?

Kids need limits.  We know this. And yet, when it comes to money, we often fail to set appropriate boundaries.  We bend over backwards for our kids to pay for the expensive private school, to get them the car they want versus the car they need, so they can play club sports.

We do this even if it means they aren’t saving enough for our own needs.  We retire later or live on less, carry thousands of dollars in credit card debt, deprive ourselves of the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.

Why do we do this?

Queue the refrain – “That’s just what you do for your kids.”

There is so much that is wrong with this way of thinking.

 

 

Dividing Lines

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be doing as much as we can for our children but we have to be realistic given our financial situation.

There’s a big difference between overpaying when you can afford and overpaying when you can’t.

While I question the wisdom of overpaying because “that’s just what you do,” I understand it IF you can afford it.  

But, for those who can’t afford to overpay, it’s an absolutely devastating practice.  Putting your retirement, health, and well-being in jeopardy to indulge your children is a terrible idea.

Indulging our children only makes sense if you can afford it – and even then it’s debatable.  The problem is we rarely see our “indulgences” as “indulgences.” We see them as “responsible parenting.”

Private schools.  Overly expensive first cars.  Club sports. Rent for adult children.

It’s easy to justify these expenses.  Private schools tout their track record versus public schools to justify the high price tag.  Car dealers beat you over the head with safety statistics and visions of your girls waiting on the side of the road for the tow truck to arrive.  Coaches talk up your girls’ talents and how they just need a little something extra to get them over the hump.

Faced with these arguments, would you feel like you’re overindulging your kids or just being a good parent, affordability be damned?

Let’s face it, no mom (or dad) wants to think of herself as a bad mom so there is a strong bias to do more than less.  Because “that’s just what you do for your kids.”

Guilt is a powerful motivator.

 

 

Where to Draw the Line

One of the problems is parents often engage in dichotomous thinking.

Dichotomous thinking is the tendency to think in terms of polar opposites.  Things are either good or bad; it fails to accept the myriad of options that lie between the two extremes.

Parents often view their support decisions through this “all or nothing” lens.  Private schools are good, public schools are bad. A new car is good, a used car is bad.  Good parents take care of their children even if they’re adults, bad parents don’t.

Real-life is far more nuanced than that.  Which means it’s gonna get messy.

Sometimes, private school is the best option because the public schools in your community aren’t safe or don’t foster a positive learning environment.  Sometimes, not always.

There are pros and cons to paying for club sports even if you can afford it.

Buying a new or expensive car for first-time drivers is almost never a wise thing to do.  Sorry. I see no good reason to buy an expensive car for a first-time driver.

Not paying for your adult children’s expenses doesn’t make you a bad parent.  Paying for them doesn’t make you a good parent. In some instances, it’s actually bad parenting.

The point is life is messy and we need to guard against our tendency for all or nothing thinking.


3 Ways to Guard Against Doing Too Much

    • Throw all of your preconceived notions out the window.  For example, don’t assume private schools trump public schools.  Research both options thoroughly and then make your decision.  Weigh the pros and cons of each school and the costs associated with each option.  The private school may have a slight edge overall but with a price tag of $10,000 per year, perhaps those dollars are better spent on college or retirement.  You have to determine how much bang you’re getting for your buck.
    • Buy (very) used cars for first-time drivers.  They cost far less, insurance is cheaper, and a “safe” used car is still “safe.”  Repairs are cheaper and dents in used cars, which teenagers are prone to, often go unfixed.  Lastly, get them a AAA membership and let them make the call if the car ever breaks down. Even newer cars get flat tires.  Better to deal with these things under the watchful eye of their parents than when they’re off to college and have to fend for themselves.
    • Stop supporting your adult children.  This is a serious problem. For them and for you.  Kids, even adult kids, will take as much as you will give them.  If you keep giving, they will keep taking; it’s not supernatural.  Instead, start setting specific boundaries. For example, set up a schedule that reduces your support by 25% every three months.  After one year, you will not provide any financial support at all. Your support should be a life line, not a way of life.

 

 

 

Let Go of the Guilt

Kids are expensive.  There’s no denying that.  Even if you’re just providing the basics, they’re expensive.  And if all you can afford to do is provide the basics, that’s okay.  In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s awesome. You’re doing everything a parent should be doing for their children.

Anything beyond the basics is gravy.  They’re “nice to-dos,” not “must-dos.”

Free yourself from the pressure, anxiety, and guilt that comes with feeling like you’re not doing enough for your children.  

It’s time we stop saying “that’s just what you do for your kids” as justification for making bad financial decisions or for taking on an adult child’s financial burden.

So, what do you think?  Have you ever fallen down this mental trapdoor?  Have you seen others struggling with doing too much for their children?  Please share this blog or share a comment below!

 

 

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve probably thought about whether or not she should get a job.  I’m not talking about those cases where teens need to work because the financial situation dictates it.  I’m talking about when the family is doing fine financially and getting a job is more about lifestyle spending or instilling values in your teen.

 

What I often hear is some version of the following:

“She has her whole life to work so there’s no reason to make her work now when she doesn’t have to.  Let her have fun while she can.”

If you’ve ever had these thoughts you’re not alone.  At first, they seem completely reasonable. Who doesn’t want their children to have fun and enjoy life?  They do have a whole life of working ahead of them, why should you add to it if you don’t need the money?

It’s a lovely sentiment and comes from a good place, but there are a couple of significant flaws in this way of thinking.  The first one being there’s “no reason” for going to work.

If you’re only metric for measuring the value of work is “for the money,” then, sure, there isn’t a good reason for teens to work.  But, if you believe getting a job, particularly at this stage in life, offers other redeemable qualities, then there are many reasons why going to work is a good idea.

 

It is well documented that teens who work while in high school benefit from:

    • Better time management skills
    • Understand how to prioritize competing demands on their time
    • Teaches delayed gratification
    • Enhances  interpersonal and social skills
    • Less entitled
    • Able to take direction
    • More confident
    • More disciplined
    • Greater perspective
    • Better work ethic

 

 

This is no small thing.  Even if money was on this list, I’d argue it falls near the bottom.  The life skills kids learn by going to work far exceeds the value of their paycheck.

I know parents are worried about overscheduling their children, but there is no evidence children are being damaged by having a part-time job.  This is even true for kids who are heavily involved in extracurriculars (i.e. athletics, music, dance).

Turns out kids are able to have an amazing high school experience, filled with Friday night football games, dining out with friends, and just hanging out and enjoying doing nothing while also holding down a part-time job.

Who knew, right?

As is often the case with today’s parents (myself included), our fears turn out to be far worse than reality.  This modern-day phenomenon of kids not working says more about our own work neuroses than anything else.  Which is kinda strange considering how many of us parents had a job while we were teens and we’re doing just fine.

 

Good Intentions Don’t Always Lead to Good Outcomes

 

Turns out the real damage being done to kids comes more from us coddling them than letting them go.  We’ve all heard of “helicopter” parents who won’t let their kids out of their line. Or, “snowplow” parents who are clearing away every obstacle in front of their children.

Taking care of and providing for our children is noble and giving and selfless but often does more harm than good.  Kids need to fail a bit. They need to be challenged and learn from those experiences. They need to struggle and work hard and see that their efforts don’t always go rewarded.

Having a job as a teenager is fertile ground for learning how things work in the real world.  Everyone should know what it’s like to have a bad boss, to “feel” the pain of having to go to work when you don’t want to, and to know they’re not special just because they were the star athlete or the smartest kid in class.

Better to struggle while the stakes are low than on their first real job out of college.  Better to deal with not feeling appreciated for their hard work while mom and dad are around to help them cope with such “indignities.”  Better to understand how it’s not possible to do everything you want at an equally high level, that you need to prioritize your time based on what you value and where your responsibilities lie.

Some things are best learned through experience and exactly because we spend much of our lives working, our children need to understand the basics of what that means as early in life as possible.

Plus, kids need to understand the direct connection between work and money.  No work, no money. No money, no fun. You want to raise kids who aren’t entitled?  Make them go to work and pay for some of their own stuff. See how quickly they learn the value of a buck when they have to work for it.

 

Teens should get a job because:

 

    • It teaches them discipline.  You go to work because you have to, not because you want to.  And you need to be there on time, all of the time. With a job, there are real consequences for not doing what you’re supposed to do.  The sooner they learn this lesson, the better off they will be.
    • They start to connect the dots between work, time, and money.  Money comes from work and work takes time. Seeing how long it takes to put a $100 in your pocket from working is an “aha” moment for most teens.
    • The most surefire antidote to prevent raising entitled children is to have them work for their money.  Entitled children are entitled because they are given too much, too often. By definition, when one works for her money, she’s not “entitled” to it, she’s “earned” it.

 

 

Why you shouldn’t worry about the negative effects of working while still in high school (or college):

 

    • There is no evidence kids are damaged by having a part-time job.  We try to prevent our kids from being too stressed out from juggling too many things but it’s usually the parents who are stressed out.  What was good for us is good for our babies. We shouldn’t let our work neuroses get in the way of our children’s development.
    • Kids need to be challenged in order to grow.  Muscles and bones don’t get stronger when they’re not being used and neither does a kid’s ability to deal with real-world issues.  Having a bad boss or feeling underappreciated is a rite of passage all of us must go through. Better to do so under the watchful eyes of supportive parents than when on their own and fully immersed in the real world.

 

As with most things, this isn’t a “right” or “wrong” issue.  However, I do believe in putting the odds on our side and teens working does just that.

So, what do you think?  Are you still on the fence with the merits of teens working?  Wholeheartedly convinced one way or the other? Please leave a comment and share why or why not you feel that way!

 

 

 

Am I screwing up my kids?

As a financial professional, I hear that a lot.  There are a lot of parents wondering if their good intentions are ruining their children.  They fear their children will grow up to be entitled adults who won’t have the resilience and coping skills to handle the “real world.”

Their concerns are not unwarranted given the spate of issues young adults face in the Millenials vs Boomers culture clash.

But what about our kids, the kids of GenXer’s, the iGen (internet generation)?  iGen is the first generation to grow up with an iPhone in their pocket and social media as an everyday way of life.

Children of GenXers have grown up in the richest time ever

The concern about “screwing up our kids” isn’t a new one.  I think every generation of first-time parents started with a “we’re not going to do what our parents did” mindset.

Despite our vows to be different, we often turn out to be just like our parents even using the same words they did.  “Don’t make me come back there!” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  “When I was your age, we never had blah-blah-blah!”

Sometimes, we find a way to raise our children differently only to mess them up in a different way.

Turns out this parenting stuff is hard!


What are we teaching our kids at home?

Not only do kids have greater access to the world via social media and the internet but they have greater access to more of … well, more of everything.

Today’s high standard of living has ushered in a life many of us GenXer’s could never have imagined.

Going out to eat or ordering in isn’t a special treat, it’s a way of life.  How many times per week do we ask “where do we want to eat tonight?”

Vacation used to mean hopping in the car, driving to a state park, and pitching a tent for the week.  Today, it’s “where are we flying to this year” or “what beach resort are we staying at this time?” Heck, “where are you going for Spring Break” is an expectant question.

They get all of the latest and greatest tech.  And lots of it.

 

 

For many parents, the internal conflict is unsettling.  They want to give their children the advantages that come with a comfortable life but prevent them from losing respect for why they have those advantages in the first place (i.e. hard work).

Which brings me back to the question that concerns so many parents:  are we screwing up our kids?

The short answer is … probably.

Actually, it’s more like definitely.  But, that’s true of every generation of parent.  It’s a timeless cycle. Brought forth by parental guilt and unrealistic expectations of ourselves.  Mom guilt is even worse.

The good news is we can limit how much we screw up our kids if we help them get their money right.  Because money is a common thread that runs through every aspect of our children’s lives, it has the unique ability to influence their entire existence.

 

Teach Your Children Well

There are many tactics for teaching your children about money. The two most important elements of instilling a money mastery mindset in your children are to:

 

Show kids money talk isn’t taboo.

Talk openly about money in front of them.

Let them see you managing money (i.e. paying bills, reading statements). 

Don’t shy away from their questions when they ask (and they will ask). 

 

Be the example you want your children to follow. 

Your kids are watching you. Always. And they’re formulating many of their world views based on what they see from you. Parents who model good financial behavior have children who often exhibit the same good financial behavior. 

 

 

 

One of the mistakes parents often make is not introducing “money” into their children’s lives early enough.

 

Here’s a brief guide for introducing money concepts to your children and at the appropriate ages.

 

7 and under

    • Pay them for doing small tasks around the house.  Yes, even your four year old will get this.

For example:  Pay them $.50 for helping you clean your office. Praise them and their behavior. Tell them you’re proud of them for “working so hard for their money.” And pay them immediately. You need to immediately link the action with the reward.  Don’t worry about how “good” of a job they do. Just get them to participate.

    • Let them spend their money. This is about reinforcing the idea that money comes from work and, when you have money of your own, you can choose how to spend it.

When you tell your child “no, I’m not buying that candy for you, but you know what? You can pay for it yourself.” And then they actually do! Now that’s something. It’s priceless.

    • Tell them how proud of them you are for “working so hard” and they’ll beam with pride.  The key is to link your praise back to the work they did not the money. Work is the antidote to entitlement.  It’s all about reinforcing the importance of work.

Okay, I know there are some of you who are thinking “there’s no way I’m paying my kid to do something she should do for free. I get it. Don’t worry, this isn’t an all-or-nothing stand you’re taking. If our children don’t experience the work-pay relationship – which is at the heart of good money management – they’re far more likely to become that entitled child we’re so worried about. Plus, there are plenty of jobs that kids should do without pay and we’ll emphasize those too.

 

7 to 13 year olds

    • Make them aware money is a limited resource by teaching these two things:
      • The difference between a want and a need
      • Every time they spend money, they’re making two choices, that there is an inherent trade-off with each purchase.  Namely, when you buy one thing, you are also choosing to not buy something else. Choose wisely.
    • Just say “no.” Really. It’s okay to say no to our children when they want something. Also, you shouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed to say “we can’t afford it” if that’s the case.  In fact, kids need to hear those words – “we can’t afford it.” It impresses upon them that money is a limited and, therefore scarce, resource.  It also helps establish boundaries as kids will keep asking for as long as you keep giving.
    • Get them used to handling money. I love the idea of paying for chores that don’t benefit the entire household (i.e. cleaning my office or car) or having them use their birthday or “Christmas” money for fun/entertainment purposes. There’s nothing like having kids pay their own way to impress upon them the value of a dollar.

 

High School

    • Time to start moving toward adulthood. This means opening a checking and savings account and helping them understand how to manage their money.
    • Introduce the concept of money buckets and not budgets [see Budgets are Bullshit Part 1 and Part 2] to really “feel” the difference between a want and a need.
    • This is also a great time to nudge your children to get their first real job*. There are tremendous benefits for kids who work while in high school. Not only will they have the opportunity to grow their hands-on money experience but they’ll also learn important life skills such as time management, patience, and being the low person on the totem pole. It’s a lot harder to feel “special,” when you’re the one doing all of the dirty work.

*Being involved in varsity athletics, music, band, or likewise are often good reasons for not taking on a part-time job. They provide many of the same personal growth opportunities as a job but can’t provide the money management experience that is so valuable.

    • For kids who don’t work, parents need to find other ways for their children to gain money management experience. One strategy is to deposit a lump sum of money into their checking account at the beginning of the money, enough to cover all of their monthly expenses (i.e. gas for the car, lunch money, spending money), and see how they do. Chances are they’ll be pretty bad at first but then find their financial footing. All under the watchful eyes of mom and dad to ensure they don’t get into too much trouble.

There’s a lot more that goes into ensuring you don’t raise entitled children but this is a good start.

If you teach your kids money is a limited resource, that someone must go to work to earn money to pay for the things they have, and important choices must be made because you can’t afford everything, you can say without guilt you’ve done your part to put your children on the path to financial success.

Most importantly, make money-talk a regular part of your daily lives while being the example you want them to follow.

I think “tonight” sounds like a great time to ask your children what they know about money and if they are concerned about it. You may be surprised at the depth of their answers.

If you want to hear some real life mother-daughter conversations surrounding money, check out this video that captures pinnacle moments at a mom-daughter financial interview session we held.

 

 

Would you like to learn more about engaging in healthy financial discussions with your teen?   Workshop sign up coming soon!

 

In my early adult years, I made some REALLY bad money decisions.  I imagine many of us can relate to that on some level. I think back to those days and wonder “why I was so dumb with my money?”

The easy answer is to go with the “young and dumb” trope.  It took me some time to realize it was deeper than that, more fundamental.  A lot of my money issues as a young adult were borne out of my childhood experiences with money, borne out of my “money memories” from those formative days.

My parents divorced when I was young and my father had to raise four young children on his own.  Raising a large family with two parents is tough enough, doing so as a single parent is exceedingly tough.  In fact, single parenthood is one of the primary factors for those living in poverty. We were no different.

We grew up dirt poor in a rough and tumble inner-city neighborhood (oh, the stories!) surrounded by chaos and people looking to get by.  Money problems played a key role in the struggle.

Given those circumstances, even the most financially savvy among us would have a difficult time making ends meet.  Unfortunately, my father was far from financially savvy. Money was always a struggle, always a topic of conversation.  Actually, “conversation” is overstating it. Money was always talked about but it was never discussed.

My father would constantly bitch and complain about money.  About how we never had enough, how the fat cats at the company were getting rich while keeping everyone else poor, how the government wasn’t doing enough for workers like him and on and on.

He always spoke about money in a negative way.  He put down people who bought “fancy houses” and “foreign cars” (he was a steelworker in the 80’s so, you know).  He was convinced that everyone around him was fixated on and worshiped money. He was never able to see the self-deception, he was never able to see how fixated on money he was.

He always spoke about our money situation as if it was beyond his control, as if he wasn’t an active participant.  The multiple bankruptcies? Not his fault. Never having any savings to fall back on? Not his fault. No retirement savings?  Not his fault. Always having to “borrow” money from his mother and not be able to pay it back? Not his fault.

 

 

My father never formally sat me down to teach me about how money works but he taught me many of the money lessons I would take with me into young adulthood.  And with my father, most of my learnings were of the what not to do variety.

One of my later learnings was many of my “life” decisions were really “money” decisions masquerading as life.

For example, I’ll always remember the time when I cut the top knuckle of my middle finger trying to retrieve a baseball from a broken window. It was a really bad cut, bad enough to where I could literally see the bone.

If that happened to one of my girls, we would’ve whisked her off to the hospital post-haste to get proper medical care.  Stitches, physical therapy, plastic surgery – whatever she needed, she would get.

But, that’s not what happened to me.  I ran home, into the bathroom with blood dripping all over me, and provided my own medical care. The first step was to stop the bleeding and clean the wound. Then, I “butterflied” the wound with tape in lieu of stitches. Finally, I created a makeshift splint out of a popsicle stick and taped it to my the palm of my hand and my middle finger so I couldn’t bend my it and break the cut back open.

I was lucky.  No ligaments were affected and the cut eventually healed although it was tender for a number of years thereafter. I even have a nice scar to serve as a reminder.

What I didn’t do was approach my father about going to the hospital.  We didn’t do that, go to the hospital. It was too expensive, we “couldn’t afford it.”  If I was stupid enough to cut my hand, I had to be tough enough to deal with the consequences.  Didn’t matter if I was 13 years old at the time.

It wasn’t until many, many years later did I realize the connection between money and that life experience (and others like it).  If my father was a better steward of his money, I would have received proper medical care instead of serving as my own doctor. It was obvious how his poor money habits affected my health and wellness.  What wasn’t so obvious was how they affected my views towards money.

While my father was fixated on money, I grew up with an indifferent almost cavalier attitude toward it.  A part of me understood the importance of it. After all, I was buying most of my own clothes since I was 12 years old using birthday and Christmas money.

But, a larger part of me didn’t know anything about money, didn’t respect it.  My money troubles started when I went off to college and had access to a broader (and more dangerous) financial world.  They continued and compounded once I graduated and got into the workforce.

I made soooo many money mistakes in my early years.  I want to say I’ve made them all and learned them the hard way.

I borrowed my way through college without having a clue as to what that meant.  When I didn’t have money in college, I took out a bunch of credit cards and maxed them all out.

When I started working I didn’t save into my 401k plan for a number of years and then only at minimal levels.

tried to buy a fancy car but the bank was smarter than I was and denied me the loan.

 

 

 

I quit my job as a manager at a regional bank to work as an assistant golf pro at a country club making next to no money.  Why? I don’t exactly remember. Maybe I was trying to “find myself?”

During the dot.com boom (and subsequent bust), I mistook speculating for investing.

I didn’t start saving for my girls’ college education early enough.

And the list goes on and on.

Growing up poor and then mismanaging your money as a young adult teaches you valuable lessons.  Some are obvious – credit card debt is bad, investing as early as possible is good. Others are less obvious – investing and speculating aren’t the same thing, college debt isn’t always “good debt.”

Despite the challenges, I’m grateful for my upbringing as it’s provided me with amazing perspective and a well-rounded view of the world. If you’ve never been under the pressures of figuring out how you’re going to pay your gas bill, put food on the table and make your car payment while refusing to answer the phone because “it’s probably a debt collector” … it’s hard to know just how much money can debilitate you.

My experience with money has been a tale of two lives.  In one life, I was uneducated, undisciplined, and out of control.  In the other life, I’m the complete opposite. Educated at the highest levels, structured and well-thought-out, forward-thinking, and in control.

These experiences have been incredibly beneficial for this reason: it’s taught me how emotional money is and how those emotions often hold sway as we make our day-to-day financial decisions.

The first half of my financial life has been filled with all of the “what not to do’s.”  The second half has been filled with the “what to do’s.”

Both are important as I teach my girls the importance of money.

 

 

 

How do you learn without a teacher?

Ultimately, we don’t want our children to make the same mistakes we did.  We know how difficult it is to walk that walk. But, what are we doing to ensure our children walk down a more enlightened path?

Kids learn in a lot of ways.  In the classroom. From their peers.  From their coaches. Most importantly, they learn from their parents – both by listening and watching.  In fact, most early learning comes from observation.

Have you ever thought about what your kids might be learning as they observe your financial choices? 

 

 

 

Without saying a word, you are teaching your kids about money.  The house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the foods you eat, where you vacation, if you vacation – they all teach your children about money.

Do you buy name brand clothing?  Cereal from a bag or a box? Aldi’s or Whole Foods?

New cars vs used cars?  Do you cook your own food or order in religiously?  Clean your own house or hire it out?

These everyday financial decisions create the field of vision for your kids’ world.  If you scoff at buying cereal from a bag, your kids will likely do the same. If you celebrate buying eggs for 29 cents a dozen at Aldi’s versus $1.50 a dozen at Whole Foods, that teaches your kids something.

What you do is a powerful way to lead your children, to give them permission.

We give permission in two ways:

    1. Explicitly – by verbally saying “yes, you can …”
    2. Implicitly – by not saying anything at all thereby implying it’s “okay” because you didn’t say no or stop them

Learning from observing is implicit but it’s powerful.  Being a good example means more than any lecture will ever be.

I can attest to that.  My father never sat me down to talk about money but I’ve learned a great many things from the man.  Sure, they were mostly what “not to do” but they were learnings nonetheless. Hopefully, you can teach your kids what “to do” by being a good example for them to follow.

If you are a good financial example for your kids to follow and can bolster that by facilitating conversations about money, it’s an amazingly effective combination for raising financially savvy children and young adults.

I could write an entire white paper about raising financially saving children but will limit my comments to three foundational elements:

    • Money is a scarce resource and should be treated as such.  Our money, our parents’ money, the government’s money. We should never be flippant when it comes to money or take it for granted.
    • Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad.  What we do with it and how we conduct ourselves in pursuit of it is a reflection on us not money.
    • Money is emotional and most of our bad decisions with money stem from some emotional element money is used to fill.  We buy the big house to show others how successful we are, we buy a bunch of new clothes in response to a difficult break-up, we go on amazing trips so we can post photos on FB and IG so everyone can see how free-spirited we are.  It’s amazing how much farther our money goes when we’re not spending it emotionally.

It’s easy to dismiss these three as philosophical and psychological ramblings.  I disagree. Understanding the psychology of money is THE missing ingredient to good money management.

It is important to stop and reflect on how your past can influence the way you feel about finances.  Have you talked to your family about your good and bad financial decisions and how it affects your emotions about money?  What are some financial decisions you made that were more emotionally driven than anything else?

Go ahead. Ask. It is a great place to start the conversation.