One of my blogging goals this year incorporates sharing the steps we are taking to train our children in financial responsibility. Over a year ago, I wrote this post, but never finished editing it. I thought it would be a good intro to just a few ways that we’re maneuvering this process. Interestingly enough, it’s changed SO much just since our eldest has gotten his drivers license, and chuckle at the teaching that has occurred just around that topic.
Balancing the budget with a houseful of five children is never easy, but training those blessings to be “Money Saving Kids” in a culture where the credit card “is king” results in an even greater challenge. My husband and I’s desire to raise children committed to debt free living has encouraged us to implement important steps that aid in casting this vision. A vision, which one way or another, will impact generations to come.
1. By understanding that fiscal responsibility is to be woven into the fabric of our family as a long term goal, we mentor and model the understanding of need vs. want. For many children (and adults), this is a very gray area.
We sit down and determine as a family what our true needs are and then spark frequent discussions from that framework.
Taking advantage of teachable moments help us navigate the “Why not?” waters of frugal living.
2. Financial discussions and decisions take place as a family. Throughout our year of unemployment, we were very open about financial decisions that needed to be made. We didn’t shield our children from our struggles, yet hoped to assist them in learning as we learn. (Of course, this doesn’t mean telling the nitty gritty of every detail to the little ones, but we didn’t want to gloss over struggles either. We share how our saving and emergency funds were priorities years ago, allowing us to now respond responsibly, and not react impulsively amid challenging, financial circumstances.
3. . Educating our children at a young age about debt, the power of cash, the demise of credit, and how to use a checking account are life skills that are crucial. Explaining how our “paperless society” works when they are young, helps them shatter the myth that mom can purchase anything she desires if she just has a “card.”
4. We open up a savings account for each of our children, and help guide them in determining what percentage of their money to save, spend and give away/tithe. Many sources recommend beginning with “save 10%, give/tithe 10% and spend 80%.” Since we desire our children to not only be debt free, but also generous givers, we encourage them to save and give more than the recommended amounts. This instills a greater understanding of financial stewardship and cultivates a spirit of generosity.
Issues of financial stewardship have become increasingly important as our boys have been hired to work outside the home, Not only are they learning that a hard work ethic is rewarded, but they need to be personally accountable in how much to save and give.
5. For the younger children, we give “spending opportunities” that allow each child to determine their perceived value and price of an item. I often take one of my children yard sale-ing with me. The “date day child” is given a few dollars to spend on what ever he/she chooses. At the first stop, it never fails that my five year old daughter finds something she wants to buy. This is my opportunity to walk her through some money saving skills.
Our conversation typically goes something like this.
Me: “Are you sure you need this purse? We will be going to lots of yard sales today”
Dear Daughter: “Oh yes, mommy. I must have it. It’s the cutest purse ever.” (She has ten of those, by the way.)
Me: “Are you sure you want to spend your $3 all at one time? You may be able to find another one for less?
DD: “No, I want this one…it’s my favorite.”
Me: “Ok, but once you make this purchase, then your money is gone. That is all the money in your budget for yard sales.
DD: “Oh, yes, I understand. Thank you so much, Mom.”
Now in a perfect world, I would tell you that she didn’t ask for any more money, had a grateful attitude, and completely learned her lesson when she found the same purse for $.50 at another yard sale. (She honestly did – the EXACT same purse for less.) Well, it’s not a perfect world, but it was a perfect opportunity to teach a life lesson on instant gratification, and impulse buying. With a few of those teachable moments under her belt, she is now a much savvier shopper, and has actually learned how to comparison shop.
This is just the beginning of an exhaustive list we’ve begun implementing in our family’s quest in raising “Money Saving Kids.”
Joy can be found in the challenging journey of balancing the budget. Training our children to understand the freedom that comes from debt free living is a gift that will continue for generations to come. I, for one, am blessed that this legacy was passed to me, and that this knowledge I can now pass onto my children.
How they live it out will be their choice, but I will make sure and give them the necessary tools to implement it if they desire.