Talk to Your Kids About Money

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A Doctor or a Clown?

Not long after I found out that I was pregnant, I looked into astrological signs and discovered that my child would be an Aquarius. I was not obsessed with astrological signs; however, I was just curious what “type” of person my child might end up becoming. After all, I was going to have to share my home with this person for the next 18+ years; I thought I should at least try to do a little research into him. One of the most in-depth Aquarian Child profiles said that he would be highly intelligent with varied interests and that would mean that as an adult he could either become a doctor or a clown.

What is funny about this statement is that I recently met another Aquarian male who took a career test in high school and while other kids got, police officer, teacher or artist, his analysis said “doctor or clown.” He is in medical school, but contemplated a career in the circus. Anywho, after reading this, I immediately set my expectations low for my child and prepared for a lifetime of Ringling Brothers Shows. It’s probably why I have been so fascinated with Mel’s tales of the circus life.

When I Started Talking

Even though I have low expectations for my 8-year-old’s career path, I have high expectations for his financial health path. I began my active journey toward financial health three years ago when he was in kindergarten. And from the moment I began my journey, I started talking to him about money. Our conversations started out small and revolved around his individual financial situations like should he buy two LEGO projects or buy one and save his money for something else; however, our conversations have progressed into more and more complex situations like the value of investing and why it’s important. And at the beginning of next year, we plan to open a UGMA account in his name and allow him to pick a few stocks for his account so he can learn about investing hands on. He is actually really looking forward to this event.

Basic but Good Advice

I have friends in my community who ask me all the time how they can teach their kids about money, and the best quick advice that I give them is to just start talking about money with their kids as soon as possible and as much as possible. When I was younger, we never spoke about money in my house, and I am amazed at how prevalent this practice is today. Many people think that money is taboo or they can’t talk about it with their kids, but we are not helping our kids learn if we don’t share our own journeys and teach them along the way.

They May be Listening

When my son is with me, and I know I am making a financial choice, I discuss my thought process with him. I share with him why I buy certain things at the food store or why I drive the car I drive or why we don’t eat out every day or why I work out in the gym in the next town instead of the one in ours. There are many times that I have talked about money, and I was convinced that my son was in another place in his mind. However, because he has heard me talking about it so much, I have realized that those conversations are starting to take hold in his brain.

In fact, a few months ago he asked if he should switch his after school schedule from 5 days to 3 days. He loves going to the program everyday after school; however, a friend of his switched to 3 days and my son said that he found that he didn’t enjoy those 2 days as much as the other days so it would be a waste of money for him to go to the program 5 days a week. The funny thing about this conversation is that this was the first time he beat me to a money saving talk.

Evidence of Listening

For Mother’s Day, he worked on this one page sheet about me, even though he got my age wrong (although in his defense I just turned 36), I love the fact that he answered that his mom was really good at “saving money.” It was probably the greatest gift he could give me because it was proof that all of these talks are finally starting to sink in.

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My son may grow up to become a clown in the not-too-distant-future, but you better believe that he is going to be the most financially fit clown in that clown car and he will because I made it a priority to talk to him about money as much as possible.

Do you talk to your kids about money? Do you have evidence that they are listening?

 

 

 

 

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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