A parent’s guide to inspiring financial wisdom
As a parent, you know you’re teaching your kids even when you’re not actively teaching your kids. For example, you don’t start teaching your daughter to drive the day she receives her temporary driving permit. Every time she has ridden in your car for the last 16 years, she’s been learning how to drive by watching you. Teaching your kids good life skills, particularly managing money, works the same way. Show them how to spend wisely, save, and determine if a product is worth the price.
During the holidays, advertisers are working overtime to influence your kids. Educate your children about how advertising works and what advertisers hope to achieve. Common Sense Media has some good advice to help you with these conversations.
Help kids get real
Managing expectations is a lifelong money management task you can start addressing early. Introduce the concepts of making choices, setting priorities, and separating wants from needs in clear ways.
For example, if your son’s wishlist is out of control, suggest a dollar limit so he can be clear about your budget. Then give him play money to help him “shop” within this limit and prioritize what matters most.
Encourage him to list things he wants to give others. Help him decide how much he can afford by determining an amount for each gift. Recommend gifts of time rather than money, like reading to a younger sibling. Model your holiday spending behavior with appropriate examples. Tell your child something like, “I’m choosing not to buy new boots this winter so I can buy Grandma a present instead.”
If your family sends cards, ask your child to sign the cards. Talk about each of the recipients and why they are important to your family. This reminds the kids, and adults, that the holidays are a time of renewed connection and not merely about gift exchange.
Save, spend, and share
While gifts are likely to get top billing with your children, teach them the traditions of sharing and charity. A great example is the opening chapter of Louisa May Alcott’s book Little Women. It occurs at Christmas during the Civil War, with the four sisters talking about the things they will buy with their small amounts of money. Each wants something related to her interests—drawing pencils, a new novel, sheet music. Then the girls rethink these ideas and instead decide to buy gifts for their mother, Marmee.
On Christmas morning, they awaken to a special breakfast, only to learn their mother has already been up helping the impoverished Hummel family and their new baby. Reluctantly at first, the girls pack up the wonderful food and take it to share with the Hummels. There are numerous other stories about sharing and compassion available in books and DVDs. Find a few that will appeal to your kids.
The holidays can offer you many opportunities to teach your children important life skills, like money management, empathy, and self-control. You’ll also help them understand that their worth is not measured by what they own, but by how well they treat others.
When in doubt, contact White River Credit Union
We’re here to help educate your kids on finances. WRCU offers two accounts created just for kids under 18: our Rocky Raccoon kids’ account (for kids 12 and under) and our Teen account (for teens 13-17). Both accounts are tailored to meet the needs of your young ones, providing them with resources from a young age. Learn more about them and apply today using the links above.