You may think what I teach is obvious, and in some ways you would be right. Math is simple and irrefutable. But then so is the evidence against smoking and you still see people smoking all the time. You may know getting into credit card debt is bad, but it doesn’t stop you from wracking it up like it’s your job. We are constantly doing things we know are bad for our financial lives. This is why I don’t only teach math, I also teach about money behavior. How to identify it, redefine it, and reestablish it. Which often means things get awkward.
The entanglement of family and money is one such topic. I’m talking specifically about parents and children being financially entangled beyond a typical timeline.
As a parent your role, from the very beginning, is to step in and fix problems, no matter how ridiculous (I’m looking at you toddler years). As your kids grow older you might be able to work in a moral lesson, but you are still there to solve the problem. This is a very hard habit to break. So hard in fact that most parents just don’t. They are there when their 25 year old son’s rent is late or their 30 year old daughter needs $5,000 to start a new venture. You are there to support and love them, except… financially supporting adult children isn’t love. I warned you this would get awkward!
And let me be clear, when I talk about supporting adult children I’m not just talking about paying their rent, I’m talking about extravagant gifts too. If your kids expect cash for every holiday they will become dependent on the income. Oh but we haven’t even gotten to the awkward part yet. Ready? As parents, it’s all your fault. Why? Because if your kids are coming to you with cash flow problems it means they aren’t resourceful, and how did they get that way? Because you didn’t teach them how to be resourceful. Forgive the allusion to an old maxim, but if you give your kids money they’ll just keep asking for it, although if you teach them how to be resourceful they will be able to manage their funds on their own.
Just like trying to quit smoking, cutting off your kids will take time and a lot of self-discipline. Here are 3 tips for helping you manage the transition:
1. Impart knowledge. There’s no need to cut them off without a lifeline. The lifeline here is knowledge. Teach them how to budget, remind them to spend less than they make, etc. If they are frequently running out of money, chances are they don’t even know the basics.
2. Love them in other ways. Instead of cash gifts, give them basically anything else. Seriously, anything is better than cash.
3. Say no. Practice with me, Mom, can you help me pay my cell phone bill? NO. Dad, can you lend me $300 for my car payment this month? NO.
You’ve got this.
Need further inspiration? Listen to this segment from The Pete the Planner Radio Show on WIBC.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.