“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” – Jess Lair
Kids are learning all the time. It’s not just when we’re ready to teach them, arrange a lesson or send them to school. As we grow older, we’re reminded that learning never ends either.
With this in mind, your kids are going to learn about money from everyone around them so it’s important to be deliberate and intentional around helping them make good decisions by talking to them as openly as you can about money.
Not in a week, or a year or when they turn 12, 16 or 18 – but right now.
As Dave Ramsey (America’s trusted voice on money) says: “You have the opportunity to be the positive example in their lives and the guiding voice they can trust.”
This may seem daunting at first as many of us grew up with money being a taboo topic, surrounded by grown-ups who sought to shield us from financial stress. Nearly 7 out of every 10 parents experience a reluctance to talk with their kids about money – so you’re not alone!
Here are some practical ways from Ramsey to recognize your kids in your wealthspace.
1. Start slow
Take it one step at a time – don’t schedule a five-hour lecture presentation to review bank account balances and retirement plan contributions. Start by creating space for your children to ask questions and explore the wealthspace that you’ve been working to build.
You may be surprised at what they already know or what they need to know more about.
Once they realize you’re open to these discussions, they may be more comfortable coming to you with money questions.
2. Be honest
At the heart of good financial management is a deep understanding of what money means to you. If you regret going into debt or not saving more, tell your kids. All parents want to have open, honest moments with their children but when it comes to money it’s seems much harder. But here’s the truth; kids can handle it – really.
They’ll appreciate your openness and learn a valuable lesson about overspending, underinvesting and the deeper meaning to your wealthspace.
3. Talk values, not figures
If you’re hesitant about disclosing your salary and major expenses to your kids, don’t sweat it. The good news is your kids don’t really want (or need) to know that stuff. They need concepts like saving, budgeting, paying down debt, and being generous.
To help your kids get an idea of what real-world budgeting looks like, encourage them (when age-appropriate) to create their own budget (have a look for a cellphone app – they’ll love it!).
Talk to them about tracking spending habits to see just how far their money is going. Soon, establishing a budget will feel like second nature.
4. Set family goals
We’ve said this before, but cannot stress it enough – let your children sit in on and contribute to family budget conversations. Just remember that you guys are the adults and only adults make the final decisions. If you are paying off debt or saving for the future, let the kids join in as you celebrate reaching your family financial milestones along the way.
5. Learn about money together.
Eventually you’ll talk about topics you yourself may not completely understand – like bonds, money market accounts or S12Js. If you don’t feel fully knowledgeable on these topics, that’s okay! Admit you don’t have all the answers and do the research together to find ways of securing your future. It’s a great excuse to spend some time together!
Raising money-smart kids is about having better conversations with your kids where you recognize them in your wealthspace. It’s a wonderful journey – let us know if we can help!