How Involved are Your Kids in Family Financial Decisions?

by Miranda Marquit · 5 comments

family discussion
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?

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  • Stella Chiu says:

    Hi, Miranda

    What a good idea to allow the children to join the spending decision. To expose them early on about money is the opportunity for them to know there are options to save money.

    I like the idea, mother is still the final decision for purchasing.

    Thanks for the post

  • Jordan says:

    Interesting points here! Making sure your kids understand finances early is very important. This is a great way to get them involved in both family decisions and in understanding finances.

  • David of the Debt Free Guys says:

    John and I always encourage our friends and followers to have money discussions with kids. My step-son learned early on that I had started a UTMA account and 529 plan for him. I think this has made him more aware of how I spend his money and how he should think about money. I hope that it has helped him become more Money Conscious.

  • Small Steps to Sustainability says:

    This is the best thing that we can do for our children. Financial education is not taught by the school system, it is taught by the parents. Great job on involving your son, our kids are just entering the age where they are starting to understand but we intend to do the same thing you are.

  • Chella says:

    I admire you. I do the same thing for my daughter. She is 4 years old and she is included in the buying decision. At an early stage, I always tell her that there are options. Like you can buy this for this price at this store, and this price at that store. Or you can go on cheap things but never compromise quality.

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