My wife finally got her wish!
She's been asking me to teach parents about teaching kids money from an abundant (steward) paradigm.
I've always hesitated because I'm a little of a perfectionist when it comes to teaching content. I want to feel confident that what I teach works.
This week, I had to get over that fear fast!
I have spent the last year trying to get on The Matt Townsend Show. I finally got my wish! About 104 minutes into the interview, they asked me to comment on a NY Times article about whether you should tell your kids how much you make.
I truly believe parents should talk to their kids about money more often. It shouldn't be a taboo subject.
Why do we feel the need to insulate them from dealing with money?
Do we fear they'll want more from us?
Maybe we don't feel qualified to teach them?
Do we fear they will judge us?
Do we fear they will tell others about our sensitive financial matters?
Ignorance is NOT bliss. It's expensive!
By not teaching our children, they will either make more mistakes. Or they will learn from the scarcity of others, such as friends (who weren't taught by their parents), broke financial advisors, or "financial experts."
Growing up, all I knew about money was that there was never enough. When I did get it, I was supposed to hang onto it and not spend it. I probably bought way too many baseball, football, and basketball cards with the money I earned. I would justify buying them saying they were collectors items.
That was the beginning of my hoarding ways that fit so nicely with my financial advisor training. The same financial advisor that would cause his wife to freeze in the winters and roast in the summers because he wanted to save on utility costs.
Here are some simple things to remember when teaching your kids about money from a perspective of abundance (stewardship).
- Money is good! It's just a receipt showing you served someone
- Make it relatable to them
- Be the example - Use the language of abundance
Money is good!
Kids need to know that money is not a bad or stressful thing. I believe much of this has been passed on for generations. Parents see money as a power struggle, something in short supply, and something to break up marriages.
This doesn't have to be the case!
Teach your kids to serve to EARN money. And then be wise stewards by managing it well so they have surplus.
My 8-yr old daughter, McKenna, and I were cleaning the kitchen together when she protested,
"Dad, why am I always the one working after the boys leave? Andrew got paid a quarter for doing an extra chore and I haven't been paid anything?"
"Who says you aren't going to be paid anything? What if Mommy is saving up dollars for you instead of quarters? Who tends to make the most money? You or the boys?"
"Me, I guess."
"So you do get paid more! And do you know why we keep asking you to do the bigger jobs?"
"Because we trust that you'll get it done. We ask you more because we trust you more."
The next day, my wife paid her $5 for all of her hard work.
Isn't that a great lesson for all of us? The more we do what we know to be right, the better rewards we receive!
Teach your children that money is just a receipt for serving other people!
Make it Relatable to them
The other night, I brought out my computer, pulled up Mint.com, and showed them our income and expenses in January. Right now, I'm putting the responsibility on the kids to save up for a new puppy. Our friend told them he would give them one next year for $200.They have been saving like mad, and realize it's quite the feat.
When I showed them the numbers, I said things like, "See the money we spent on electricity, gas, water, garbage, etc? That cost us 2 puppies ($400)!" Their mouths dropped open.
"See our house payment? That's about 7 puppies."
I showed them how much income I took home from the business last year. They realized that was a lot of puppies ;) They also realized that raising a family of 7 also costs a lot of puppies too!
Be the Example - Use the Language of Abundance
Our actions speak louder than words. Be sure your language and actions around money reflect abundance and not scarcity, negativity, and tension.
I remember one day after school, my oldest son wanted us to buy something that seemed ridiculous to us. When I said "no," he replied, "Why? We can't afford it?"
I wanted to wash out his mouth with soap!
"No. We can afford it if we felt it was worth the value. We can afford anything we want. I just don't see the sense in buying something like this."
Even if we don't teach our children certain phrases or words, the world will. Here are some words or phrases to avoid:
Can't afford it
Can't (in general)
Need/Have to ("I need to do this!")
And words to use:
Want/Choose - ("I want to do this"/"I choose to do this.")
Powerful Questions - "What are some ways we can pay for this?/Is this a priority for us?"
As parents, focus on being the example of abundance.
Teach your children to see money as a wonderful thing. That it's evidence of serving others.
Teach them to be wise stewards of it.
Teach them to avoid scarcity behaviors, such as wasting money carelessly or hoarding it.
Teach them that money is meant to be used to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
As they get older, teach them how to use debt wisely. Not out of fear, but respect for it as a tool that can help or hurt you.
What are some great ways you have taught your children about money?