Teach Your Kids About Money Or Pay The Consequences
I was completely aghast when a friend said to me: "My kids don’t have bank accounts. We are spenders not savers in this family.”
All the more reason for them to be savers. Someone is going to have take care of you when you are homeless and hungry, I said.
My kids have had bank accounts since they were born. In fact, they may have had bank accounts since before their birth certificates arrived. Of course, since the advent of bank machines they have rarely walked into a banking institution so their vision of a bricks and mortar bank is more akin to Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Harry Potter than the bank down the street.
But, having a bank account isn’t really enough. There has to be some way to teach kids the value of money. The TD bank commercial where the kids keeps asking for more stuff approximates what most parents go through on a daily basis (don’t you love when a commercial is obviously written by people who have kids?).
Kids want things. Parents buy some things and not others. This is confusing for kids.
What I have found is that kids don’t think in dollars and cents like we do, they think in stuff. So my 8-year-old thinks in Pokémon cards and Lego sets. Five dollars isn’t five dollars to him it is a pack of Pokémon cards. If he doesn’t buy Pokémon cards he can save to buy a Lego set.
My eldest son thinks in video games and video game accessories. My 5-year-old daughter thinks money is pretty, and a good way to bribe her brothers to do stuff for her. She actually may be the closest one to figuring out the power of money.
When I told my husband that I was writing about teaching kids about money he didn’t exactly laugh – more like a pained sigh and suggested good role models were important, and then muttered: “Pot, Kettle.” Which is marriage shorthand for: you cannot talk about this topic because you have no idea what you are talking about. Truth is, I don't really understand money.
So in short, I don’t know how to teach kids about money. But luckily, there are lots of resources out there: this article has good starter information; everyone’s favourite money expert Gail Vaz Oxlade has some thoughts; and the Bank of Montreal has a really good site for parents. But every discussion of kids and money needs to make mention of Sesame Street. Sesame Street has an adorable section on talking to kids about saving. Check it out. (thanks to Marci at Wall St. Survivor for the link.)
Any suggestions? How do you teach your kids about money?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote in defense of best friends, because I have one.