And 5 Reasons Why You Should
When we had our first daughter over 12 years ago and I became a stay at home mom, we quickly went from a two-income family to a single income household. I wont’t lie – at first, we made many missteps managing our “new” budget. Fortunately, we were able to overcome our mistakes and come out on the other side. We also learned many lessons from our journey down that crooked path. One of the main things we discovered was the importance of communication when it comes to our finances and managing our budget.
Now, we have three daughters and, because we don’t want them to repeat our mistakes, we choose to include them in financial discussions in our home. I’m sure some parents would disagree with that approach and I don’t’ know many families who regularly discuss finances with their kids probably for these reasons:
- Parents think kids won’t/can’t understand – This is true for younger children, but as children get older, they can certainly understand budget basics. They can understand that if a certain amount comes in, then there is only a certain amount that can go out. They can understand simple addition and subtraction. Our youngest is only 7 and she participates in our discussions about money regularly.
- Parents think children have no concept of money – This is true! If you ask a six year old how much it costs to buy a car, they will probably answer “A hundred dollars!” or perhaps, “A billion jillion dollars!” They don’t understand the real costs of things at all – which is a great reason to help them learn about it!
- Parents are afraid that it will cause stress for kids -I would concur that discussing finances can definitely be stressful and, sometimes, you have to choose your words carefully. We don’t want to cause children to worry. Overall, though, I think involving them creates less stress because then they are “in the know” and are not blindsided when parents cannot afford certain things or activities.
- Parents don’t want to tell kids “we can’t afford it” – It can be a real blow to the ego when you have to tell your children that you cannot afford the toy they want or to take a vacation over the summer. However, don’t you think it would be easier for them to understand if they knew why you couldn’t get them the expensive shoes they want?
- Parents don’t talk about finances themselves – It’s not a pleasant subject sometimes and it is certainly not fun to sit down and create a budget (at least not for me!). It is necessary, though. If parents aren’t doing it, they should be.
Though there are many reasons parents hesitate, there are just as many reason to dive in and start the conversations today.
- It helps them understand how to manage money. – Love it or hate it, money is a fact of life. Everyone needs it. Eventually, our girls will all be adults in charge of managing their own budgets. By including them in our discussions now, we are laying a foundation for responsible spending and smart money management.
- It helps them understand the difference between wants and needs – Our girls have heard us say a million times, “Do you really NEED it or is it just something you WANT?” We are trying our best to teach them how to discern the difference and to teach them that, while we will try to give them absolutely everything they need, they cannot always have everything they want – neither can we.
- It makes them feel they have a stake in the process – Including kids in the discussion about family finances makes them feel heard. Maybe they even get some say in decisions from time to time. For example, if you can only afford one extracurricular activity, shouldn’t they have some say in which one they prefer?
- It decreases the begging – Our kids are still kids and, yes, every time we go to Target they ask for a million different things. BUT, when we say “We can’t buy that today” or “That toy is not worth that much money,” they quickly stop asking because they understand the concepts of having a spending limit and choosing wisely what we do spend money on.
- It makes them more grateful for what they have – It may seem cliche, but when kids know that mom & dad worked hard to afford that new tablet, they are more likely to appreciate it. Once they understand the value of the things they have and know that it is not always simple to replace them due to carelessness, they tend to take better care of them, too.
I will admit that it felt a little awkward when we first started talking to our girls about money and they don’t exactly look forward to the conversations, but the more we do it the easier it gets for all of us. We can see them beginning to have a better understanding of it all and we plan to continue discussing it openly with our three daughters.
If you are not yet including your kids in conversations about money, it’s never to late to start! Just start small and meet them on their level. Also, understand that it is not something you do just once or twice – it is something that should happen on a regular basis, both formally and informally. In the long run, it will benefit all of you!
About Lisa –
Lisa Witherspoon is a former preschool teacher who is now a full time mom to three beautiful daughters, wife to a traveling salesman, and part time blogger. Fueled by chocolate and coffee, she writes about the joys, frustrations, laughter, and chaos of motherhood on her blog, The Golden Spoons. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, andPinterest.
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