Parents are responsible for a lot when it comes to raising kids. We are responsible for meeting their needs, addressing their wants, and attempting to teach them how to be healthy, content adults who can contribute to the family and society as a whole. While the beginning of September means that kids head off to school to gain an education, there are many areas of education that they will not learn in school. How to listen while someone else is talking, how to chew with their mouths closed, to be nice to the little kids and defend themselves against the bullies. Above all else, there is one lesson they will not learn in school, a lesson that will greatly affect the rest of the their lives: The lesson of finance. Forbes writer Jenna Goudreau shares with Today how parents can teach their kids how to be financially responsible … even if finances are something parents feel they need to head back to school for.
According to Goudreau, “teaching good money skills can be a blind spot for parents because so many feel financially inept themselves.” With the economy in its current state and many families battling financial crisis, teaching children to have good money skills seems impossible. Mary Hunt, author of “Raising Financially Confident Kids,” says, “parents do great teaching kids good manners and how to be safe, make their beds and be culturally savvy. But so very often parents neglect the most important thing of all — to prepare them to be financially astute.”
It turns out that everyday life is packed full with opportunities to talk to your kids about money – and the wise handling of it. Hunt suggest using cash in front of kids instead of a debit or credit card. “Cash is very visual. Credit sends a mixed message to kids.” Goudreau explains that kids “believe that a magic card gets you anything you want.” Hmm, sounds like a common misconception amongst adults, too. Trips to the grocery store can teach kids about good deals, shopping with a purpose, and the difference between wants and needs. Trips to the mall can teach children that they are not entitled to everything they want, that even though parents may be able to afford that truck or doll, they “choose not to spend [their] money that way. Allowance teaches kids responsibility, enforcing planning for the future.
In an interview with Faith Deployed, Mary Hunt answers some of the most common questions parents have regarding teaching their kids about money. Here’s what she had to say:
In regards to age-appropriate lessons concerning finance, Hunt says:
“It’s never too early. Children learn through imitation. From a very young age let them see you treat money with respect, always saving some. Talk about how you don’t spend money you have not yet earned, that you give some away out of gratitude and charity for others, and you take good care of it by keeping it in a safe place. Model and speak openly of the difference between wants and needs. Let them see you dealing day to day with cash. Show them how saving money a little at a time, all the time, accumulates. When you make a decision to spend, that money is gone.”
One of the most stressful financial situations adults face is debt, which can often seem insurmountable and overwhelming. Hunt gives three steps to “debt-proof kids”:
1. Tear down attitudes of entitlement
2. Develop financial intelligence
3. Neutralize the glamour of easy spending
Perhaps the most valuable lesson in all of this talk of teaching is this: Parents have the best influence on their children when they lead by example. So, although you don’t have to be good with money to raise kids who are, you’ll have a much easier time explaining what good finance is when you are practicing good finance yourself.