What Are You Teaching Your Children? Make Money Visible in Your Home

by Miranda Marquit · 4 comments

Family saving money

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? 

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  • Nikita Brodskiy says:

    The most important moment for kids to learn how to manage personal finance is when they get their first open a bank account and the debit card. The proper age for that vary: some of them are ready at age of 12, others – 16 or even later.

    When teens get their own monthly budgets they start managing their purchases themselves. I think it’s right time to teach them to save money: want this cool new iPhone – make sure to set aside regularly for several months. The same with every durable purchase. In order to make the idea of regular savings easy for the kids – make their savings automatic.

    • Kate says:

      As soon as we got working papers at 16, we were responsible for buying our own eyeglasses, paying for our dentistry, and of course all school expenses out of our summer earnings. We were leagues ahead of our friends when we got to college and had to make the money stretch or resign ourselves to going without for the rest of the year. My parents also drew our attention to the fact that “if you paid for it, it’s yours.” When we yelled about Sister taking “my sweater” before we were old enough to buy our own clothes, Mama would say “Everything in your closet belongs to your father and me.” However, anything that I bought with my earnings was MINE, and it was my decision whether to lend it or not. (Bearing in mind that if I was selfish, my sisters would probably retaliate in kind.) This also meant that if I wanted to buy Owl Glasses (and I did), I could. Before I spent my own money, I had to have whatever Mama picked out.

  • Mario says:

    Perhaps. I’ve always thought that kids wouldn’t understand the scope because they don’t pay for room and board. To a 13-year-old, a few bucks extra a week feels like a ton of money because their needs are taken care of and it all goes straight to wants. Even to a 17-year-old who may have to deal with buying gas and eating out, even the money to put extra cheese on your Whopper feels like a big deal.

  • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says:

    We’ve always discussed out budget and planned purchases in front of our kids. It means that they understand what’s going on behind the appearance of a new object in the house.

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