Talk to your kids about money without whining or eyerolls

kid piggy bankI have the benefit of experience (ha) on my side when it comes to kids and certain stages of their lives. I say this only because my kids are nestled into tween/teendom (which comes with its own sets of challenges). I’ve already completed those early years when sleep (and sanity) are scarce. I’ve also had my chance to make my share of mistakes.

Let me add some context.

Strolling through the grocery store the other day, I saw a young mom trying to do the impossible: shop with a list with two little ones in tow.  I smiled to myself (in support, not judgement) as this mom was trying to field an endless cycle of “can I have this?” and “no fair”. Followed by the existential “why not?”

And this mom, bless her heart, after several repetitions replied, “Because I said so.”

I’ve done that many times. In fact when my kids were young, I would just make stuff up (forgive me I’m a writer. It’s an occupational hazard). Truthfully though it is only to everyone’s benefit to take advantage of these teachable moments as they arise- especially when it comes to talking to your kids about money.

Be the example

I’ve always loved Ghandi’s “be the change you want to see in the world”, because it is empowering and because it shifts responsibility for your own success squarely on your shoulders.

The same can be said for contributing to your kids financial success as adults.

Responsible money management hinges largely on your attitude towards spending, saving and credit. And this starts very, very young by the way.

If mom is an impulse shopper, then kids will be too. If mom makes thoughtful purchases, then they will too. Their sense of spending will be shaped by whether they more often see paper or plastic in your hand at the checkout.

Make it real

The biggest challenge with teaching kids about money is that it is an intangible concept. Kids need concrete.

Even if your kids are teeny tiny, assign age-appropriate tasks and pay them for them. Make that payment visible by putting it into a glass jar. Establish that relationship between time spent and money to spend right away.

Place value on money-less things

If you really believe the best things in life are free, then make sure your kids know it. For example, emphasize the fun in spending time together, rather than the money that you’re spending while you’re having fun together.