No one is financially perfect. This fact varies in importance as life progresses. Sometimes it doesn’t matter. But sometimes your financial imperfections can create a problem that you didn’t see coming. One of the worst cases of this sneaky suckiness is when your children pickup your bad financial habits. This really happens. This isn’t an after-school special sorta life lesson that I’m trying to give you. This is real. If you have financial “issues”, then your child will detect this, and your money garbage will flow into their kiddie brains via osmosis. Don’t freak out. Well, you can freak out if you don’t plan on addressing this problem. Other than that, don’t freak out.
You can affect change by being intentional with your parental money lessons. If you have learned nothing else from this blog on a daily basis, I would have hoped that you have learned that financial success and clarity comes to those that are intentional. Be purposeful. The three financial lessons described in the video above, and the three lessons listed below are great ways to reverse the damages that your unintentional money school has had on your children.
Best money tool for children 7 and under: Piggy Bank
While there is nothing more cliche than a piggy bank, there is also nothing more effective. A piggy bank adds excitement to savings. It allows your child to have a physical representation of their net worth. Want a new action figure? Well, does the piggy bank feel heavy enough to afford it? Did your child break something of yours after they were told not to touch it? Remove the money from their piggy bank. The piggy bank is a VERY POWERFUL parenting tool. Don’t ignore it.
Best money tool for children 8-13: Lemonade Stand
Whether you like it or not, we live in a capitalistic society. Yes, sometimes this brings out the worst in our fellow Americans. But it also brings out the very best. Learning commerce is a must. Your child must understand: cost, inventory, profit, marketing, and discipline. The best tool to accomplish this is a lemonade stand. Since my days of installing air conditioners for our family business as a teenager, I have been visiting as many neighborhood lemonade stands as I can. I love them. The lemonade is often terrible, but the interaction is always worth the money.
Best money tool for children 14 and older: Cell Phone
I used to think that teenagers shouldn’t have cell phones. I mean, who the hell are they talking to all the time? Just invite the person over, and stop being so anti-social. But then I realized that a cell phone, when properly administered by an intentional parent, can be the perfect tool to teach teens about budgeting. Cell phones involve time and money. You pay a certain amount of money for a certain amount of usage time. Your teen will learn to budget both of these things if you allow them to. Unlimited texts and minutes for your teen? Sure, if you want to teach them how to be a financial disaster in their 20’s. The financial world isn’t an all you can eat buffet. You can’t learn resourcefulness when there are unlimited resources. Be intentional about your teen’s cell phone usage, and their money skills will flourish.
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.