This is a guest post from Jonathan, one of the writers at Master Your Card. The blog is all about teaching people how to be fiscally responsible, with the focus on helping readers to get out (and stay out) of credit card debt.
If you’re a parent then you probably know that your kids are always watching you and remembering the things you do. You may tell your kids that swear words are bad and you should never use them, but the one time you drop something on your toe and let out a hearty stream of cussing your kids think this gives them carte blanche to indulge in an occasional swear word.
In other words, the things you do have a huge influence on your kids whether you like it or not.
This is especially true when it comes to dealing with money. As a parent, you need to realize that you’re setting the stage for how your kids will eventually deal with money as adults. Remember: they watch everything you do, and they figure that’s the way it is supposed to be done.
Are you teaching any of these bad things about money to your kids?
- Things just land in your hands. You’re walking through the store and your kid sees a candy bar she wants, so you grab it and give it to her. She then sees a coloring book she wants, and that lands in her hands too. At what point are you going to start explaining to your kids that everything in a store costs money?
- Electricity is free. Even preschoolers can start to grasp the concept that all the resources they use cost something. Once they understand this they might actually start turning the lights off when they leave a room.
- Saving isn’t a priority. Every kid should have a piggy bank and a savings account along with a parent who is willing to take the time to teach the basic principal of saving money. You should also make it a point to save money each month, and to discuss your saving methods with your kids.
- The ATM is magic. The next time you stop at the ATM to get some cash, narrate the process to your kids. Otherwise you might inadvertently send the message to your kids that any time you need money, all you have to do is ask the ATM really nicely and voila.
- Everyone has enough money. If your kids don’t ever witness you donating your time or money to people in need then they may not realize that there are people in the world who need help. Kids should learn that money can be a means to help other people and not just a way to buy a lollipop.
- Delayed gratification? What’s that? Do you decide on impulse that you want something expensive (a new car, a new TV, or whatever) and then just go out and buy it on credit? You’re teaching your kids something dangerous: You don’t have to budget and save for the things you want. You can just get them and pay later.
- Cash isn’t very useful. Do your kids ever see you using cash? If all they ever witness is you using your credit or debit card then they’ll have a hard time understanding what cash is all about. Make an effort to use cash once in a while and help your kids understand the basics of actual cash.
- A job is just something we do. Do your kids actually understand why you head off to work every morning? Unless you tell them, they may not make the connection between working and income. Teach them about working to earn money.
Take a look at how you handle your own finances and then realize that this is probably how your kids will handle their finances unless you make an effort to teach them otherwise. If the thought of your kids eventually handling their money as you do now makes you shudder, it’s time for a change.
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!