Money Matters Through My Son’s Eyes
Modeling Good Habits for Our Kids’ Financial Education
Ever since my oldest son Rashad could walk he has been helping me in the kitchen. My little sous-chef has helped me measure, mix, and create some of our favorite family meals. Rashad soaked up the knowledge like a sponge and eventually started imitating my every move in the kitchen. During our cooking lessons, I taught him about following directions, counting, and patience.
Yet Rashad’s inquisitive nature did not stop in the kitchen. As I developed my expertise in budgeting and finances over the years, his interest grew as well.
Therefore, when he was five years old, able to read, and understood the basics of money, I started teaching him about finances.
Beginning with the Basics
For a few of my bills snail mail is still the only way to pay. Therefore, I take the time every month to review the bills, write checks, and put the payments in the mail. As soon as my son could understand numbers above ten, I started showing him the bills, explained how you fill out a check, and emphasized the importance of paying your bills on time. He had the most fun sealing the envelopes and applying the stamps. Of course, what kid doesn’t like stickers? Eventually, however, he started to pay attention to what I was doing outside of just paying the bills.
Rashad soon became my youngest accountability partner, asking me for my shopping list before I went into the grocery store. He liked to double check if I had any coupons on my grocery apps like Ibotta and ShopKick. He would also ask to hold the list so he could cross off items as they were put into the shopping cart. Sometimes, the list worked against me. If I wanted to add cookies or ice cream to the cart, Rashad would be the one to mention those snacks are not on the list so we should not get them.
Money as a Motivator
Rashad loves to see his Uncle Ed. Why? Because he is super fun and my brother-in-law is the only man I know that gives a five-year-old $20 bills. When Rashad saved $50 from his cash birthday gifts, his Uncle Ed fund, and coins, I took him to the bank to open his first bank account. The bank representative was very professional and even let Rashad sign the form. Some people thought this was crazy, but I was only doing what my mother did for me. When I was five years old, my mother took me to First Union and I opened my first bank account. I kept that same bank account through college and even after I was married. Now Rashad is learning the same skill of saving.
When Rashad turned six, my husband and I introduced opportunities for him to earn his own money. We asked Rashad what are some chores around the house he would like to do and in exchange for his work we paid him two dollars every Sunday. We settled on making up his bed, loading the dishwasher, and taking out the small trash cans. Most weeks Rashad would do his chores with no debates, but once he forgot to make up his bed and I had to give him a warning. When it happened again that same week and I suggested we deduct some money from his allowance.
That was the first time I realized he really enjoyed getting paid in full. He would not accept the deduction deal and then pitched several things he could do to earn his money back. It was his idea to learn the definitions for “invest,” “save,” and “interest” by that Sunday’s payday. I was very impressed with his entrepreneurial and negotiation skills. Rashad learned those words and received full pay that Sunday.
With his own money, Rashad has a gained a sense of independence. We let him decide how much to spend, save to have on hand, or deposit in the bank. As a mother, I have been impressed with some of his choices. He volunteers to tithe in church, buys his own action figures from the toy store, and still deposits a few bucks every once in a while. This past Christmas, he saved enough to buy the whole family gifts from his school’s holiday store.
What I have learned in my experience as a mother, is it’s not hard to teach children about finances.
The catch is you have to make a conscience effort to involve them in financial decisions so they can observe and learn. Parents who try to shield their children from money because they do not want their children to know how much they have — or don’t have — are only hurting their children’s ability to understand what to do with money when they finally earn their own. Kids learn most of life lessons from their parents and other influential adults — aunties, uncles, grandparents, and godparents — in their lives. The key is the adults need to have good habits themselves. Set a good example and your children are more likely to make good choices when faced with similar money situations.
If you are not happy about your relationship with money or your financial habits — change them.
One way to get ahead is to save more in 2017 by signing up for my 52-week Savings Challenge. Every little bit counts. As parents and positive influencers of children, it’s important that the children in your life learn the best money tips now so they can become financially savvy adults.
Never Too Old or Young to Learn
If you have older children, consider reading a financial book together and then talk about the chapter’s lessons as you read. My dad gave me Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki when I was in high school and that book changed my life. I opened a Roth Individual Retirement Account when I got my first retail job and have been aggressively saving for an early retirement ever since.
No matter our age, it’s never too early — or too late — to learn. If you change your habits you might encourage your children to do so too! Lessons from parents never end.