In the world we live in today, it is important as “financial parents” to get a jumpstart on your children’s buying habits. While watching television commercials as early as two-years-old, children begin to develop a consumer mindset rather than a savings mindset. If you are not careful, your children will carry the mentality into adulthood.
Growing up, I recall always wanting things and expecting my parents to get them for me. Because they were spending their own money, I didn’t understand how my habits were affecting all of us. It wasn’t until I started working as a teenager and I had to start spending my own money that I realized that I didn’t have to have everything I wanted.
As I had conversations with others, I realized I was not the only person who acted that way as a child. There was a good amount of people who had a similar experience. I began to wonder what caused the disconnect. Why did I think it was ok not to treat my parent’s money like I treated my own? Then I realized I never had a conversation about how to value money growing up. I had the “all about me syndrome”. I didn’t think about how my parents had other things to take care of.
When I think about setting children up for a successful financial future, it is important that parents start with the M.O.N.E.Y conversation to help them understand the importance of money in their lives.
M – Make time to show your children the difference between a want vs. a need. This concept sounds simple to say, but many people struggle with it. We live in a society that teaches us instant gratification. We tend to believe that everything we want is something we need.
O – Only spend money on what you can afford. When children understand the importance of living within their means at a young age, they increase their chances of making wise decisions as adults. Some good habits to instill in children are using coupons, buying things on sale, online shopping, and buying items such as clothing from thrift stores.
N – Never keep your money in one place. It is important that you teach children how to diversify their money. Teaching children simple concepts such as share, spend, and save can get them a greater perspective on the role of money in their lives.
E- Everyone needs a budget. Having a budget helps you have better control of your money. It helps you identify how much you are making, how much you are spending, and financial goals you would like to meet. By teaching your children how to make a budget early, they will have more time to practice the habit.
Y- You are in control of your future. Give your children the room to learn from their financial mistakes. Use every mistake as a teachable moment. As they begin to want things, I challenge you to not just pay for everything. Help your child learn responsibility by involving them in some of the purchases. This will also help your child appreciate the purchase because they were a part of it.
When you have the M.O.N.E.Y Conversation early, children begin to take ownership and become more aware of the value of money in their lives. The lessons you teach give your children an opportunity to avoid some of the same pitfalls many adults tend to struggle with. When children are informed, they can begin to build a solid financial future before they leave home at the age of 18.