Raising up money smart kids can be challenging in a world that seems to fight good financial habits at every turn. Know that you are fighting a battle and the other side is well fortified. This battle will require patience and perseverance, but the results will protect your kids in so many areas of their lives well into the future.
Many parents shy away from teaching their kids about money due to how this topic was handled in their own upbringing. The most common lament I hear is that, “My parents never taught us how to handle money.” Another reason money is an avoided topic is you as a parent are not doing that great of a job handling your finances so you feel inadequate to instruct your kids. Let me encourage you that this is a great reason to dig into God’s word and all the great resources based on His teachings, and begin putting His principles into place not just for yourself but for those who count on you the most! Here are a few thoughts that can help get you on track to raise your kids to be money smart in a not so money smart world:
• Money habits are more caught than taught. You can teach all you want, but true training will come when your kids see how you handle your own money. If you grew up in a family where money was shrouded by secrecy, be the parents who break out of that mold. Let your kids see you dealing with money issues. Let them see you wrestling with how much to give, save, spend, and invest. Let them see you disagree and show them how you work through and come to a final decision. Let them see the right and the wrong decisions you make. The more real experience they have, the better they will be prepared to make good choices and recover from bad ones.
• Give real responsibility in an area of spending. Identify an area of spending that is important to your child and give them responsibility for managing that area. Using clothes as an example, let them know how much you are allotting to spend for their clothes, and let them manage that budget. Put the money aside in an envelope, buy a gift card, or just keep a register on a piece of paper. The key is to give them the opportunity to make real world decisions that have benefits and consequences. Be willing to give up control here and allow them to succeed or fail. The lessons are much easier to learn while under your care and can give you opportunity to bring wisdom into their decision making at a very early age.
• Let your kids experience delayed gratification. I have to admit that this is a hard one for me. When I know my child really wants something, I love to be able to provide it when possible. So it is usually just as much a lesson for me as it is for my child when I purposely have them save for something important to them. I allow them to earn extra money and help them calculate how far they have to go until the purchase can be made. This is an area rich with all kinds of applications, both for my child and for me. Delayed gratification is a skill that when mastered will pay rich rewards throughout their lifetime.
• Be creative and have fun. Money does not have to be weighted down with drudgery. Have some fun with it. Think of creative ways to engage your kids. Be careful not to use money as punishment. Emphasizing the rewards of right actions can have more of a longer term impact than just trying to avoid penalties.
Engage with your kids in the area of money. You can only mess it up through avoidance. And who knows, God just might teach you something as you seek to raise up your own money smart kids!