A couple of years ago, my son lamented that he had to “save up my money to get anything, but you and dad just go buy what you want.”
This perception of the way we run our finances served as a wake up call to my husband and me. We realized that we didn’t do enough talking about finances around our son. We explained to him that we do save up for the purchases we want. We told him that dad waited five months to buy his new laptop, and that mom set money aside for travel each month in order to avoid big bills later.
Let Your Kids See What You Do with Money
Our son used to have this idea that money just magically appeared for us, and that we were able to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We started making it a point to let him see what we do with our money, as well as let him in on the financial discussions we have.
When we decided to re-do the flooring in our home, we discussed the matter in front of our son. We talked about the scheduling, the cost, and how we would cut back a little on some things, since we were paying up front and out of pocket.
I let my son see when we pay tithing, and he listened to a lot of the discussions my husband and I had while we were refinancing the home. While our son doesn’t know everything about our finances, he does have a better idea of what’s going on now. He also has a more realistic perception of how we earn our money and how we decide how to spend it.
Is Your Child Old Enough for Money Discussions?
You do need to use discretion when deciding what to share with your children. Age makes a big difference. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your child when you’re in financial difficulty, and you also don’t want your child to participate in discussions that are over his or her head.
But, even if you don’t address some things directly, you can increase the regularity that finances are discussed in your home. If you can let your children see, from a young age, that you and your partner make money decisions together, and if you can get them used to the idea of talking and hearing about finances, it can help you broach the subject later.
Money is an increasingly nebulous concept. Few of us use cash anymore; instead, it’s about swiping a piece of plastic — or even just paying online. I had to go out of my way to show my son that I was paying bills online, and to explain to him that, before I can use the money on the debit card, I have to put money in the bank.
Don’t hide your financial activities completely from your children. Make an effort to let them see you engaged in money decisions so that they have an idea of how things really are.
Do you include your children in your financial discussions?
Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!