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Jan 192013
 
 January 19, 2013  Posted by  Family, Money
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This post is by Denise Schipani of Mean Moms Rule.

How much do your kids know about money? I don’t mean, how much do they know about how to wheedle a dollar out of your wallet for the vending machine; I mean, how much do they know about how money is earned, saved, invested, spent?

Do yourself and your children a favor, and teach them about money. It may be hard, but most things that have long-term positive effects on children as they grow (providing good nutrition; fostering smart habits; teaching life skills; doling out appropriate discipline; potty training) are hard. Hard is worth it. Hard-but-worth-it is what my book, Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later is all about.

Here are five ways to get your children’s financial education underway:

Start early. Don’t wait until your kid is 16 and asking for a $400 prom dress before you explain to her that the things she wants and needs have value, and that every purchase is (or should be) wisely considered. If your child is old enough to know that money is used to pay for stuff, he’s old enough to learn that it’s not inexhaustible. Built-in lessons are all around you. Not long ago, my 7-year-old wanted something. I said I didn’t have enough cash on me at that moment, to which he replied (being a clever lad), “Just go to the bank and get some more!” Yes, it’s a cute story to tell, but I’d have been remiss if I didn’t then seize it as a chance to explain that the money in the bank is the money we earn and then put there, that it’s not free or bottomless. Your daily life is full of little ways to engage in financial show-and-tell with your kids.

Don’t hide the truth. Can’t go on vacation this year? Had to put new brakes on your eight-year-old car and so have to forgo dinners out this month? Tell your kids. They won’t wither like hothouse flowers. Too many parents feel they are protecting their children by hiding financial truths from them, but all they’re really doing is kicking the can down the road, and possibly setting their kids up for believing a credit card is a free pass. Of course, be careful that what you’re doing doesn’t create anxiety in your child. There’s a line between letting them know, in a matter-of-fact way, that you’re doing a staycation this summer, in hopes of going on a cruise next year — and dumping your money stress on their still-tender shoulders. And if you are financially secure and can treat your kids to good things – like the dream of a debt-free college education? Be sure you communicate to them how lucky they are, and how hard you worked to make that kind of life happen.

Take them shopping with you. Yes, I know – going food shopping with bickering siblings or toddlers who are likely to bolt down the frozen food aisle the moment you turn your back is not exactly your recipe for a relaxed Saturday outing. But stores are great learning opportunities. If your kids ask for a certain item that you can’t or don’t want to buy, explain why: “Sweetheart, Mommy does want to buy ice cream this week, but let’s go looking in the store circular for the brand that’s on sale, okay?” As kids get older, you can show them little tricks like figuring out the price-per-pound difference on chicken breasts or cheddar cheese. Let them see you comparison-shop, and not just for food. Point out how clothing stores mark down items – so they can get what they want for less if they wait a bit.

Give them allowance and/or a budget. I stayed on the fence about giving my sons, now 7 and 9, an allowance for a long time, mostly because I never had it myself. Also, because I find the idea of “paying” your child to do chores (if that’s how you allocate allowance) sort of distasteful. Shouldn’t they be doing chores and taking on responsibilities because, ya know, they live in the house, too? Sure. But then I decided it was important for my boys to have their own cash to budget, and an allowance is a way to make that happen. I made it clear to them that what they receive (a dollar for every year of age, given monthly) is not a payment for chores so much as it’s another marker in their growing maturity. They’re old enough to handle money? Then they’re old enough to put away laundry and take out garbage and empty the dishwasher. And they’re old enough to budget their cash. The fact that my 9-year-old burned through his $9 this month in the first week of summer camp? Yep, good lesson.

Don’t fear the word “no.” I mentioned already how many parenting tasks are hard, right? Saying no to your kid is surely up there in the tough stakes. You want to say “yes,” not just to bring a smile to your child’s face (however fleeting), but to head off the possibility of a tantrum from your toddler; whining from your school-age kid; or arguments worthy of a skilled litigator from your tween or teen. Once you’ve settled on “no,” because “no” fits with your values (no hooker dresses for the eighth-grade dance) or your budget (no designer boots when Mom’s in the Payless knockoffs), say it calmly and without apology or fear. It takes consistency and repetition, but it works. It gets the message across. And the kids not only get over the temporary disappointment of not getting what they want, when they want it; they learn that life is not about getting what you want, when you want it. Nothing’s more valuable for a kid to learn than that.

Denise Schipani is a mother of two and author of Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later (Sourcebooks). She blogs at Mean Moms Rule.

LOTC Staff

One comment on “How ‘mean moms’ teach their kids about money

  1. Our only child was spoiled by her dad’s mom, only girl grandchild for many years (25) and wow whee, but it was in different ways, handkerchiefs, cards, avon jewelry, tupperware toys, candy, money for tickets for the movies, but never money in an envelope, checks instead for each birthday, she always put it in her savings account at the credit union and wrote out a tiny thank you card and spent the day with her beloved grandma playing cards and we brought the treats or I made up liver and onions her favorite meal and got everything she needed for the entire afternoon and we took off for where we were to go and our daughter only child no less stayed for hours and hours playing card, talking to her, her grandmother was 63 when she was born and passed from this earth the day after she graduated college at nearly 87 years old!!!!!!!!!!!Very few know their grandmothers like our daughter did my own mother passed from this earth when I was 9 I never had her and never was spoiled until I lived with her mother who was in her late 80′s until she passed one week from when I graduated college…I think one should spoil their grand children in love, affection, time and attention all the rest of the material items are not relevant, my mother in law got things she thought her only gril grandchild would love and she cherished them, still wears all the avon jewelry and has a tiny locket with two photos of her mom&dad on one side the other her beloved grandmother..Time, love and affection are what is important not things..love your blog and wisdom