My son is almost 13, and he’s very interested in making money choices. I’m working on striking a balance right now between making sure that he is involved (and learning valuable financial lessons), and that he understands that although we are a team right now, I’m still the adult — and the team manager.
Talking About Money
I’m fortunate in that my work allows me to earn a good living, so my son and I aren’t exactly going to be struggling to make ends meet. This is even more so now with our recent move from Pennsylvania to Idaho, as our housing costs alone have been cut in half, along with everything else being much cheaper.
Still, I think it’s important that my son understand the importance of getting good value for his money. I also want him to think critically about financial choices so that he can practice good habits later in life.
My husband and I always had money discussions in front of our son so that he could understand that we make choices based on convenience, quality and priorities. At a basic level my son understands that there are tradeoffs in financial decisions. But I wanted him to have more practical knowledge that matches with his age and maturity level. So, at every step of the way as we’ve outfitted our home, I’ve encouraged him to come with me to make spending decisions.
As we’ve moved from store to store looking for furniture for the home and as we’ve shopped on Amazon, I’ve asked for my son’s opinion and had him talk about different price options. I’ve had him look at items with different prices and weigh the pros and cons. We’ve talked about unit pricing (and how to read price tags) and sales. When we went shopping for school clothes, he was conscientious about identifying clearance items and double-checking to see that certain items were covered under the BOGO designation.
In the end, he got some practical experience, and learned about comparison shopping. He also learned that there are some things we need to wait for, and that it often makes sense to gather information and then wait to act.
Mom’s Still the Final Decision Maker
However, during the process, I did have to remind my son that I’m still the final decision maker. While I value his contributions and he does need to learn these skills, in the end, I might veto a purchase, or do something else. It was a little difficult to explain to him that my opinion and choice matters more than his, especially for items I pay for, and that are meant for the household.
It’s an interesting situation to be in, and one that we’re figuring out as we go, but in the end I think it will be beneficial to my son as he learns to manage money and his expectations.
How much input do you allow your children in family finances?