They say, “Monkey sees, monkey do.” Children are a product of their environment. They learn by imitating the behaviour and habits of those closest to them. As a parent, you are your kid’s first influencer. They will pick up every subtle thing you do. And that includes the mistakes you make in managing your money.
You can sit your kid down and teach them all the money concepts in the world but to get them to understand it, you have to practice. So when you fail to practice what you preach, your kids will mimic what you do. They will pick your unintentional money lessons into adulthood, which can be detrimental to their finances.
The best way to teach your kids about money and personal finance is to be their role models. And that starts by fixing any money mistakes they can pick from you.
This article will explore ten money mistakes your kids can pick from, how you can fix them, and replace them with good habits they can copy.
It’s understandable to want to shield your children from the harsher realities of life, but they need to understand the importance of honesty when it comes to finances. Kids need to learn early on that lying about money can be consequential.
If kids catch you in a lie, they might think it is OK to lie about money. This could lead to serious issues when they must manage their own finances later in life.
Parents should teach their children that lying about money could result in long-term financial repercussions. Instead of lying, you can use every opportunity to offer financial lessons. For instance, instead of telling your child you can’t afford to buy them something (when you can), explain how that will affect your spending and the consequences of not sticking to a budget.
It’s also important to emphasize that not everyone is honest with money and that understanding the risks associated with this dishonesty is essential. This will give them the knowledge to make responsible decisions when managing their finances. They will learn to be honest with their finances, recognise when someone is lying, and be transparent when dealing with money in friendships and other relationships.
Finally, you should not use your kids to hide money mistakes from your partner and other family members. You must hide your money issues and financial infidelity from your kids.
Bribing your kids to get them to do something can be tempting. Parents often think offering children an incentive will motivate them to get the job done, from chores to schoolwork. However, this can create a problem in the long run. Your kids may learn that money is an easy way to get what they want, and they may grow up with an entitlement mentality.
As a parent, you must learn the difference between rewarding and bribing kids.
Bribing is when you buy your kid a toy after throwing tantrums or giving them candy for taking a shower. This teaches your kid bad habits, i.e., doing the wrong thing gets you the desired result.
On the other hand, rewards are positive reinforcements and are not necessarily monetary. It can be a pat on the back, a “well-done son, keep it up!’’ Rewards are meant to motivate kids, not persuade them to act a certain way.
As a parent, you should avoid bribing your kids and know when to time your rewards. Bribes offer short-term solutions and teach your kid to be financially indisciplined. Instead of giving them money, consider offering verbal encouragement, treats, attention, and extra-play time.
Read Also: Fun Ways to Teach Your Children About Money
It can be hard to say no to your kids; wanting to give them what they ask for can be natural. However, when it comes to money, saying no can be one of the most important things you do.
If you always say yes to their demands, they won’t learn how to make wise financial decisions. This can lead to problems down the line as they enter adulthood.
Instead of giving in to their demands, talk to them about the importance of being financially responsible. Explain the concept of budgeting and help them set reasonable goals and expectations for themselves.
Additionally, teach the kids how to save up for what they want instead of just buying it on a whim. Let them know that sometimes they won’t be able to get everything they want, and they should also learn to appreciate what they have.
It can be a slippery slope when you start thinking that the only way to make yourself happy is by constantly buying new things. While spending lavishly now and then can be a nice treat, it can send the wrong message to your kids.
If your kids see you consistently overspending or have a consumer mindset, chances are they’ll pick up on that, thinking it is normal.
To prevent this from happening, try to practice mindful spending. Implement good spending habits in your life and let your kids watch you practice. Some conscious spending tactics you can teach your kids include:
As a parent, you should get your kids involved in shopping and spending. Take them to the market/supermarket and teach them how to shop with a list, avoid impulse spending, and search for the best deals. At home, teach them how to extend the lifespan of their things through recycling, decluttering their rooms by selling, donating stuff they no longer use, and keeping inventory of their belongings.
Negotiating is rarely discussed in the same conversation as budgeting and saving, yet it's essential when it comes to teaching your kids about money.
By not teaching your kids to negotiate, you’re missing out on giving them valuable lessons. Negotiations teach children to be assertive and go for the lowest price possible. This will help them learn how to save money on their purchases and avoid the short end of the stick.
You can teach your kids this subtle art by setting an example and negotiating with salespersons, service providers, and other businesses when appropriate.
Finally, ensure your children understand that negotiating is about finding common ground and not winning. They should know when to compromise and when to walk away. Negotiating takes practice and experience and is one of those skills that becomes easier over time. The more they use it, the better they will get at it and the more money they will be able to save.
Learning the art of negotiating can offer long-term benefits beyond saving money. It will teach them the value of money and, importantly, their personal value. They will learn to negotiate for fair compensation when looking for a job or selling their skills.
Read Also: How to Negotiate an Entry-level Job Salary
Kids are curious beings who want to know how everything works. When you take them to the shop, pay using mobile money or your card and leave, they might ask questions about how that works. As a parent, you should explain this and other concepts to ensure your kids grow up knowing how money works.
Talk to your kids about money early and often. Start by discussing basics, such as the importance of budgeting and setting financial goals. As kids get older, you can discuss more complex topics like investing, taxes, inheritance, debt and retirement planning.
And that is not all. Talk about the more complicated topics too. Open up to your kids about your past financial mistakes so they can learn from them and make better decisions in the future.
Read Also: 5 Must-Have Money Management Skills
Saving and investing are critical parts of financial planning. As a parent, you must ensure that your kids grasp these concepts early on. You must ensure that your kids know you are thinking about their future and yours.
If you are not saving or investing as a parent, you will jeopardize your family's financial security and pass the wrong money mindset to your kids. If your kids can’t learn how to save and invest at home, they will have trouble doing it when they’re grown.
How can you teach your kids about money?
The best approach is to involve your children in conversations when making critical financial decisions that will affect them, such as saving for college or buying a house.
This will help them understand what goes into making those decisions and appreciate the value of saving and long-term financial planning. Doing this sets a strong foundation for later life while instilling sound money management habits in your children.
Money boundaries are limits you set for your finances. They define what you are willing and unwilling to do with your money. You can be doing well financially and able to afford to spend lavishly and support a struggling loved one. But you must do this within limits.
When you don’t have boundaries regarding spending money on yourself or others, you send the wrong message to your kids.
For instance, let's say you always lend money to friends and family, pay their bills, or write off debts. When kids notice this, they might start to believe money is infinite in the family. The next thing they will do is give out their belongings because dad/mom is rich and will buy a replacement.
Lack of money boundaries can also be counterproductive. How will you say no to your kids when you can’t say no to others?
Lack of money boundaries can teach your kids bad money habits that could prevent them from saving and protecting their wealth. As a parent, you must show your kids when it is okay to spend money and support loved ones and when to hold back.
Setting money boundaries isn’t about being selfish but prioritising yourself and your goals. They ensure that your charitable deeds don’t impact your financial well-being.
Charity is a core value for many families and is often passed down. It is, therefore, a no-brainer that how you donate money (or don’t) is a habit your kids will pick up from you. Teaching your kids about giving back to the community and contributing to charities is crucial in raising socially-conscious kids.
As a parent, if you want your kids to have a giving heart, you have to set an example by teaching them how to donate responsibly. You can do this by involving them, asking them to suggest charities to donate to, and showing them the value of giving back.
Part of responsible charity is remembering charity begins at home. Don’t donate much money to other causes while you are not saving or providing for your family's basic needs. This can teach your kids to put the needs of others ahead of theirs.
Finally, teach your kids that charity isn't always about giving money. Sometimes, the best way to help is by giving your time and effort. So, next time you are volunteering, consider taking your child with you.
Read Also: Money and Friends: How to Lend to a Friend
Everyone finds themselves in a financial fix once in a while. It happens when your salary has been delayed or you have an emergency. How you react to such money problems can teach your kids a lot about emergency preparedness.
If you are the type of parent who responds to emergencies by borrowing money from loved ones, neighbours, or your local shopkeeper, guess what? Your kids will think that’s the right thing to do. Growing up, they will know they can just borrow anytime they have a money problem.
As a parent, you need to teach your kids the dangers of transferring their money problems to others. You need to teach them how to save for rainy days and make borrowing their last option. And you can only do this by practising.
Raising financially savvy kids is every parent's dream. However, you can only succeed at it if you make an intentional effort to teach your children about money through practice and involving them in your finances. So ensure that you keep yourself financially educated for your own sake and the sake of your kids.
You should also take other proactive measures to educate your kids, such as buying them financial books and exposing them to financial content. You can also make the process fun, such as getting the money box or piggy banks and teaching them to save. Finally, remember they are kids. Allow them to make some mistakes. Sometimes it is the best way to learn.