My mother likes to congratulate herself for the great job she did in raising me to have a healthy respect and appreciation for money and credit. And while it’s true that I that the only debt I have is my mortgage and I use credit cards only for convenience (and rewards), I’m also not quite sure specifically what my mother did. Whatever it was, I want to do it, and more with my kids.
When your kids want you to buy something you don’t want to buy, what do you tell them? I’ve tried saying “It’s too expensive”. “We can’t afford it”, “That’s junk”, or “That’s not in our budget right now.” But Krystal has been known to say “Just go to the ATM”, or “Use your credit card.” And this has actually sparked some really teachable conversations about how the money gets into the ATM machine, and that I actually still have to pay for everything on the credit card.
Krystal is 7, and when she was 5 I started her on an allowance. This lasted all of about 2-3 weeks as I either never had the correct change, she didn’t ask for it (leaving me to believe it wasn’t that important to her), and she didn’t seem to really “get” the Save/Spend/Share model I was trying to work with her on (I bought these little banks to help out with that).
Here’s my dilemma: I want my kids to have their own money. I want them to do jobs around the house to earn it. But I also want them to do jobs around the house because that’s part of being a family and things need to get done, even when there is no money involved. After all, I don’t get paid for putting my clothes away, doing laundry, making dinner, etc. It’s the balance that still eludes me.
I know that once money is in a child’s hand it’s “theirs” (or should be), but I still struggle with control issues there. I cringe at some of the choices I see them wanting to make. Krystal tends to want to buy videos, but never has enough money for them, so she settles on some trinket that ends up getting lost or broken, or will beg for candy which I don’t allow (we have plenty of candy in the house that I pay for!). Belle is drawn to colors, so she’s still happy in the Dollar Store and for her the thrill is still more about “paying” than “buying”.
So how do you teach your kids about money? Post about it over at Parent Bloggers (before midnight tonight!), and check out the new MoneyWi$e tool from Capital One about teaching your kids about money. Hey, maybe I should take my own advice on that!