At one point or another, most parents have said, “I want my kids to have more than I had growing up.” My parents said it, as have I. Generally speaking, parents are referring to tangible items and luxuries such as more and/or better clothes/shoes, a bigger/nicer home to grow up in, and vacation experiences. Seldom is the statement made with regard to skills, knowledge, or information.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting better for our children. It may be in their best interest, however, if we, as parents, broaden the scope of that particular train of thought. Take finances for instance. Can you recall specific lessons taught at home on how to manage finances? After becoming an adult, I realized my mother was a great money manager. How she got that way, I don’t know. I cannot recall any conversations with her about finances. I remember my father encouraging me to save money but that may have been the extent of our discussions.
Children learn more by seeing than hearing, especially if what they hear does not line up with what they see. And, people in general form habits by repeating behaviors for a period of time. This is true for good and bad habits. Making finances a normal part of family life will help children understand the various aspects of finances. Family activities centered on healthy financial habits have the potential to ensure children carry those habits into adulthood.
One suggestion is creating a Savings Jar. Each member of the family can agree to forgo one of their favorite treats for a period of time (Starbucks, ice cream cone, doughnut, sushi lunch, Happy Meal, etc.) and find creative alternatives which would still serve the purpose. For example, instead of buying a cup of Starbucks every day, purchase a bag of the coffee and brew it at home. Set aside a savings jar. Each time a cup of coffee is brewed at home versus purchased, put money in the jar equal to what would have been spent at the coffee shop. This not only encourages financial responsibility, it also teaches discipline. At the end of the designated period of time, the family can decide together what to do with the money saved.
Parents are not always well-equipped to teach financial literacy to their children. There is no shame in that. We cannot be held responsible for what we don’t know.However, as adults, we should hold ourselves accountable for learning so we can then teach our children.
Free and low-cost financial literacy seminars, workshops, and classes are offered by various entities. We owe it to ourselves to obtain as much knowledge as possible in order to create healthy habits and make sound decisions with our hard-earned money.
Children should not carry the burden of adult financial matters, yet parents should not shy away from discussing the importance of making sound financial decisions. If you are in the market for a new car, a Lexus may be very appealing to you. The family’s budget may be more in line with the cost of a Nissan. When you come home with the Nissan instead of the Lexus and your son asks why, be honest. Explain that purchasing the Lexus would not have been the best financial decision to make for the family. The door is then open for an impactful teaching moment. Through conversation, we can create realistic expectations for our children, allowing them to know we, too, have to balance our wants versus our needs. That is key to their financial education.
Discussing debt (such as a car loan) and the wisdom in keeping it manageable is a segue to the topic of credit. The buy-now-pay-later philosophy can be enticing but is extremely dangerous at the same time. When the pre-approved credit card offers begin arriving in the mail addressed to our young adult children, they have to be prepared to handle them. Without prior discussions, they may not be.
Remember, the goal is to provide more than what we had and for “more” to include skills, knowledge, and information!
Survival by Faith is a great read! Shawn-Ta Sterns Wilson takes you on a journey through her life, generously sharing real-life vivid details of her experiences. It is evident throughout the book that she relied on The Lord Jesus Christ for all of her needs, to get her and her family through tumultuous situations. Although this book is spiritual in nature, anyone can connect with Shawn-Ta’s character and integrity. Her display of affection for others was refreshing to experience but her genuine love for God was uplifting. There are relatable scriptures sprinkled throughout the book which adds a nice touch. Not only is this story entertaining but also inspirational. The strong emotions of the author shines through each page and the words flow from one story to the next, keeping you enthralled and wanting more.
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