National Public Radio spent a week a while back talking about the relationship between young people and money. They cited a poll by a financial education group that said 70 percent of teens indicate that their parents are the most important influence on their spending habits.
What are you teaching your kids about money, particularly now that so many families are struggling?
The following are some of the important points brought out in the discussion:
- Teach kids early.
- Include them in discussions and give them a voice.
- Don’t give in to every advertising influence. Delay gratification. This skill produces greater success in life.
- Every penny ought to have a purpose.
- Kids want structure even though we and they think they don’t.
- Credit card use can be dangerous.
- Teach children that they are valuable because of who they are, not what they have.
- Don’t pay for basic chores or good grades. Those are part of being diligent and responsible. Pay for special work or major projects.
- Children live what they learn. They are watching you whether you know it or not.
- Share your values and teach your children to follow them. Their use of money will begin to reflect those values.
- Nobody has or needs everything. We should make wise and healthy choices.
They’re Comfy When You’re Paying the Bills
It is important to have your values reflected in what you teach your kids about money. Those lessons should begin early. Your teenagers develop pride by doing things themselves, and they grow when they’re not smothered in stuff. Money and possessions don’t provide much lasting happiness. Placing value in doing for others makes for success.
Teach your child to be self-reliant. Life is comfy-cozy when kids live at home. Food, shelter and other resources are plentiful and easily accessible. But eventually kids have to rely on their own wits and wisdom. Help your teen understand and be prepared for that transition. At their age they’re targets for comfy and cozy credit card pitches. But plastic cash can lead to disaster.
Freedom Isn’t Free
Administer a dose of reality. If your child is old enough to drive, he or she is old enough to buy gas. That’s a crash course (no pun intended) in understanding the difference between subsidized living and independent life.
For teens who go off to college and spread their wings, this is Economics 101. Whoopee, I’m free! Whoopee indeed. You want freedom? Freedom in any form isn’t free.
In this day and age, all of us need a good lesson in economics. We’re suffering from a mishandling and misunderstanding of money, credit and debt. Our legacy to our kids, therefore, should be honesty and clarity about money. Mom and Dad need to set the standard. Yes, Virginia, there is a real cost of living—and that can best be managed by using the “pay-as-you-go” plan.