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Personal Finance

Parenting lessons I learn as my son learns about money

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My son loves to learn, both in his elementary school class and wherever his curiosity takes him. These days he is learning all he can about money and investing. I’m not sure exactly what motivated this interest in personal finance. But he learns everything from the makeup of a dollar bill to how the stock market works.

It’s exciting to watch him learn and grow – and learn and grow through his interests as well.

In fact, I’m learning to answer questions from him, such as “How much money do you and daddy make?” Here is a little more about this and what else I have learned in this chapter of my son’s life.

My son loved reading Investing for children: how to save, invest and grow your money. It’s a kid-friendly approach to topics like why saving money is important and what portfolio diversification is and why it is important. (It would be a great holiday gift, by the way.) With this book, my son can tell you about a certificate of deposit and the history of the stock market. When he read the article on the United States Mint, I explained to him that Charlotte, North Carolina, where we live, was home to the first branch of the United States Mint, specializing in gold coins, which some are on display in what is now the Mint Museum.

In the meantime, I read and highly recommend to parents Opposite of spoiled: raising kids who are grounded, generous and smart about money. This book got me thinking about all kinds of things, things like …

The author of the book takes a look at three other factors, besides covering them with gifts, toys and fancy clothes, involved in spoiling a child:

  • A lack of responsibilities (such as household chores).
  • A lack of rules and parameters (like having unlimited access to electronics).
  • And parents’ full attention all the time (like being able to interrupt mom on the phone for something that can wait).

While I think I do a really good job in these areas, it was a refreshing reminder that there are many ways to spoil a child – and how not to.

Also, during this month of gratitude, it occurs to me that instilling an attitude of gratitude is also a way to fight against the abuse of oneself or of our children. Here’s an idea: Why wait for Thanksgiving to go around the table and everyone to say what they’re grateful for? Why not do it all month – or all year – long?

When I was young, my parents did a great job extolling the virtues of saving money. But they didn’t talk about how to use debt or the difference between good debt (a mortgage) and bad debt (credit card balances). I figured it out on my own, but I could have figured it out sooner with a little coaching.

I want to be actively involved in my children’s education, including when it comes to learning about personal finances. My son’s readings and extracurricular readings have reminded me that I need to teach my kids about debt so that when they are young adults with credit cards and considering buying a house, they have a solid understanding debt and a solid credit history to back them up.

It is important to have a policy on an allowance – whether to give it at all or tie it to household chores or not – is important. After all, in parenting consistency is the key. And if you’re trying to teach your kids how to manage their money, they should always know what they’re working with and what they’re not working with.

The The opposite of spoiled the author does not require that the allowance be tied to chores. Instead, he advises giving children a small amount each week to teach them the value of saving and spending wisely, and then increasing that amount as the children grow older.

I do not agree. I think payments should be tied to additional services or contributions beyond being a participating household member. I take this approach from one of my kids’ preschool teachers (yell at Mrs. Sarah!) Similarly, I don’t get paid to make my bed, clean my room, or take my plate to the sink, and my kids don’t. more. I’ll gladly pay to blow the leaves, mow the grass, take the garbage out of the cars, and do any extra dirty work (which I don’t want to do on my own!).

Your child has probably learned to ride a bike with training wheels. Why should learning to manage money be any different? Fortunately, I have learned that there are debit cards designed specifically for children. For example, Greenlight® debit cards allow kids to set financial goals – maybe they want a new bike or skateboard – and work to achieve them. They may see the benefit of saving their allowance and birthday money or setting aside income from childcare or extra household chores. And if they mess everything up on something stupid, they experience their buyer’s remorse as they strive to increase their savings again.

Meanwhile, parents have flexible control – these are the training wheels – and are alerted when their child makes a purchase. This could be a great solution for parents who always feel like they get hit for small amounts of money – for Starbucks, pool concessions, movie tickets and more, because it all adds up. . And all of these little moments can be great teaching moments.

It reminds me of my teenage years. I don’t remember all the stupid things I wasted money on, but at 15 I remember saving for something I really wanted: a pair of Birkenstocks. These shoes held up and I wore them for years. They were worth every penny.

Many parents dread questions such as “How much money do you make?” Or, “Why is so and so living in a bigger (or smaller) house?” “

As I practice family law, I have learned that what children need most as they grow up is security and consistency. This does not mean that plans, living conditions, schedules and financial arrangements cannot and should not change. This means that children need to know that life changes, but that there will be constants like family, friends and extracurricular activities.

Kids don’t really care if you make $ 60,000 or $ 600,000. What matters to them is when they can see you… or see their friends. They want to know that they are safe, cared for and loved. They want to know that you want them to do well in school and chase their dreams. So the next time you squirm when your child asks you an uncomfortable money question, respond with a question in return, “Why are you asking the question?” This gets to the real root of their thoughts and will usually keep you from disclosing all of your pay when they didn’t care anyway.

All of this reading about money led my son and I to the bank, where we opened his first bank accounts. It was a thrill. He showed the bank safe (!) Enthusiastically. Next, we discussed a strategy for him to regularly add earned money to his account so that he did not incur any monthly bank charges.

I love to see him dive into learning. I love to see him grow up to be a young man – a curious, thoughtful, skillful and interesting young man. I wonder what we’ll learn together next.

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