Money, Values and Your Kids: How and What to Teach

How many times have you heard your kids say some variation on “I want that”? From the time they’re very young, they are barraged with advertisements for toys, games, clothes and more. As a parent who wants to give their child the very best, you may struggle with how to handle these requests. You certainly don’t want to deprive your child. Yet almost no parent would agree that it’s a good idea to simply buy your kid everything they ask for, even if you can afford it. How do you find the middle ground?

Your Own Money Issues

The first step is getting your own financial house in order. This is both an emotional and a practical process, and if you’re in a relationship with the child’s other parent, it’s also a couple’s process. From an emotional standpoint, it means digging into what money means to you and what kind of anxieties you might have around it. You might worry about never having enough if that’s how you grew up. Talking with your partner about the origins of your attitudes toward money and exploring the differences between the two of you can help you articulate your values and think about what you want to share with your children.

Practically speaking, that means making a budget, getting out of debt, and starting to put away money into emergency savings and investing. If you have student loans, as many parents do, you may want to consider a refinance, which can give you a lower interest rate that in turn lowers your payments and makes getting out of debt easier. Chances are, you’re better off financially than you were when you took out the loans, and even if your credit isn’t the very best, you can qualify for student loan refinancing. You can read more about how the process works and find the student loan refinance lender that’s right for you.

Teach By Example

Whatever it is that you want to teach your children about money, your actions are going to speak louder than words, at least over the long term. That means understanding common financial problems and knowing that if you don’t want your kids to be overly focused on material things, you can’t insist on only wearing designer gear or enthuse about shopping as a way to lift your spirits. If you find that your own behavior is at odds with the values you want to pass on to your kids, you may need to go back to the emotional exploration described above to figure out why.

Emphasize Saving

If you are eager to steer your children away from a treadmill of wanting things, becoming quickly dissatisfied with them and moving on to the next thing, emphasize the value of saving money to purchase something that they want. Giving them a regular allowance can offer them the opportunity to experience this themselves. They will either get a better sense of the value of the item because of having to save for it or they will decide that they didn’t really want it badly in the first place.