“Your balance fell below $25. Overdraft. Declined.” These are stressful financial times, no doubt. Were you prepared for it? Have you ever heard these things? Terrifying, right?
These are stressful financial times, no doubt. Were you financially prepared for what we are currently going through? Unfortunately, most of us would answer “no” – myself included. To be honest, not only was I not prepared for this, but mot of my adult life’s finances as well.
My family currently carries a great deal of debt. It can feel suffocating and overwhelming. But bit by bit, I am trying to chip away at it. It can be extremely hard sometimes. Especially when I want to splurge on my daughter occasionally. (Those mom memes are so true that say “I’ll spend $300 on brand new clothes for my child(ren) and think that $10 for a used pair of leggings at the thrift store is too much to spend on myself)!
My background is personal finance was minimal at best. I have lived in places that were above what I could realistically afford, spent more money than I'd like to admit on clothing and accessories, gone without any sort of budget most of my adult life, put vacations on credit cards I knew I couldn't afford, and many more mistakes over the course of my adult life. I wish I could go back and ask more questions, understand better, make smarter decisions and take my lessons more seriously. But I can’t. There are (obviously) consequences to my actions. The debt I have created still looms heavy over my head. I have maxed out all my credit cards and am now forced to only spend what I have in my bank account. Which is a good thing, BUT, it worries me if there is an emergency. There is no money to "spare". All the payments I'm making on my credit cards are the minimum - so not much ever changes with my balance and available credit. My daughter lives a good life, but I am worried that my bad choices and financial mistakes, will ultimately affect my daughter and her life. So I’m learning as I go now and trying to pave a more successful financial path for my daughter.
It is not a bad idea to start teaching your kids about finances now. They will have to learn at some time, and who better to learn it from than their parent(s)/guardian(s). Like stated in a previous post, they are always watching. They are even watching how we pay for things. If we are slapping down plastic, they are watching. If we are paying with cash, they are watching.
Currently, my daughter doesn’t understand the value of money. She’s definitely at that age where it’s better to have 15 pennies than 2 dollars! And she certainly doesn’t understand that there is a bank account attached to the plastic that gets used from time to time. So it’s up to us as her parents, to begin to get her thinking about money, where it comes from, and how it gets spent.
Here are some tips to help you teach your child about finance:
1. Set up jars marked “SAVE”, “SPEND” & “SHARE”. Teach them to save 40%, spend 50%, and share 10%. So for instance, if they get $10 for chores - $4 would go into their SAVE jar, $5 would go into SPEND and $1 would go into SHARE.
2. Use a clear jar to save. This way, your child can see the money amount “growing” every time they contribute to it. You can even take it a step further and mark the jar once/week or every other week to better manage the growth of their savings.
3. Show AND explain that things cost money. It’s best if you take a few dollars out of their SPEND jar before you go to the store. When they ask for a toy or a treat (you know they will), help them understand their “budget” and what they could afford with the money they have brought with them.
4. Make sure your child(ren) understand that money is earned, not simply given. Chores are a wonderful way for children to see that they can earn money by putting in work. You might want to consider renaming “allowance” to the word “commissions”.
5. Avoid impulse buys. Before heading out the store, create a list with your child present (if they are going to be going shopping with you). Once at the store, stick to the list. If your child asks for that sparkly new dress or those new video games, ask your child to refer to the list. It’s always easier to spend money if it isn’t yours, right?! If they push it (which you know they will!) ask them to wait 24 hours before spending their own money on the item they want. Chances are, they will not want to go back to it and use their own money after they have had time to think it over.
There are more tips to be shared, which will come in a future post. Teaching your child about money and finances is going to be an ongoing task. But it can be done, and it can be done at any and all stages of their life (pre-k through adulthood). It’s not always going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Giving your child the gift of knowledge of finances will set them up to be financially well over the course of their life.