How did you learn about money? Did you learn in college when a credit card company sold you on all the benefits, and then you maxed it out not really knowing the repercussions? Did your parents teach you? Did you learn in school?
We can only truly take ownership of our money when it truly belongs to us. I remember when I was nine years old I had a paper route. I would usually keep some of my earnings and would give some to my parents to put into my savings account. My tips usually were my “candy fund” where I would ride my bike on a path that had been worn by the neighborhood kids to the Village Pantry. There I would select something or many things depending on how much money was in my pocket. There was rarely candy in our house, and occasionally we had some at my grandma’s house. So for me, candy was a treat. It was something special.
I truly believed the money I made on my paper route was my money. I worked hard for it. It was my choice to buy the candy. It was not my choice to never receive my money that I was told was put into savings. I have no idea now how much money I never saw. I trusted my parents to put it in my account, never knowing that was not happening. Which is why I loved reading the book: “The First National Bank of Dad: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money” by David Owen. He talks about how he teaches his children about money. He sets up his own bank and a version of the stock market from his house. One idea he shared was about how kids have to know that the money belongs to them. If they know that, they will make different choices about money.
“My children’s accounts belonged to them alone. When they saved, they reaped the benefit; when they wanted to spend, they didn’t need permission. If my son decided to withdraw twenty dollars, I didn’t ask him why he needed the money—just as my bank doesn’t ask me. What he did with the cash was his business, as long as his balance was sufficient to cover his withdrawal. Why do kids need to control money of their own? Because if the money they spend money of their own? Because if the money they spend isn’t truly theirs, they have no compelling reason to pay attention to how they spend it.” Page 41
An interesting idea. I do remember having a savings account ledger and looking at it from time to time. I was more of a saver. I liked watching it grow and knowing I was working hard as the money accumulated. With the exception of my Village Pantry runs, I really did not spend that much of my money. Although I will never know how much never made it to The First National Bank of Tami. Alas. Live and learn. I will be teaching my kid(s) to take ownership of their money, and to know how to track what they take out and what they are earning. And, no, I will not steal a penny from them. If you have kids, I definitely recommend reading Owen’s book.
As more and more people around me have babies it makes me think about kids more and more. There are so many things to think about: car seats, cribs, bassinets, strollers, names, kinds of diapers, bottles, the list goes on. As they get a bit older the list shifts a bit to other very important ideals that a couple should, for the most part, agree upon in how they want to raise their kids.
When I recently came across this article on how to teach your kids about money it made me think, wow everyone should be starting very early in how they want to approach money with their kids. I was talking to a colleague just the other day. Yes, I can tell you this now, and it is possible that I have no idea what I am talking about! We were discussing how expensive it is to raise a kid these days, let alone thinking about paying for them to go to college. I paid my own way through college. I was in a work/study program, and I worked outside of that too. My parents could not afford to pay for college for any of their three kids. While it would have definitely been nice to have it paid for, it taught me a lot about money, about growing up, and about taking responsibility for my decisions. I probably would not have worked as hard to learn if I was not paying for it.
Now that does not mean that I will not help my future kid(s) out with college, but I want to do it in a way that helps them grow, learn, and understand what their decisions mean financially. Too often, I think parents write a check and walk away, and that does not help their kids learn about life. The above article starts with ages 2-5 on how you can use play money and play “store” together. Oh how I remember the plastic cash register I had when I was little. I loved watching the coins come down the side like it used to at the grocery store. Toy cash registers today I believe have scanners and credit card swipers. Oh well. Parents could still teach the value of money, and include a bit about how someone has to pay for what is put on that credit card.
Start young. Whenever we begin having kids I know I will start young too. I think conversations about wants, needs, and money help kids know and appreciate all that they have in the world. It does not have to be in a way of shame, but from a place of abundance and gratitude.