Parents, Kids and the Two Sides of Money

I would imagine that many of you out there are parents. Maybe parents of young children, maybe your kids have already grown. Possibly, somewhere in between. For any and all of you, I want to pose you one simple question:

What are your children’s thoughts on money?

It is a broad question, but I wrote it that way to make it applicable to as many situations as possible. To go into it a little deeper, I’ll ask these questions:

Have you EVER talked to your kids about money?

Do you feel qualified to do so? (Meaning, are your finances generally in line?)

Have you talked to your kids about the two sides of money?

And I could go on and on.

My first point is this-you need to talk to your children about money. Yes they have teachers at school and coaches at school and friends and they have you for a variety of other things, but I think you are doing your children a disservice by not talking to them about money.

What about money? Well, in a nutshell, everything. Many figures have been bandied about as to when is the best time to begin talking to kids about money. In my estimation, I think that “right now” would be a good time.

The only thing that I think needs to be looked at is to what level you discuss money with them. I have a three-year old at home, and we have talked about money, but trust me, it hasn’t been about investment strategies for my 401K. For him, it’s more along the lines of “Well, we can’t buy something from every single store we go to because we don’t have enough money.” Or “If you help me vacuum the house every week, I will give you a dollar so you can go buy some of your favorite suckers.”

This is not a comprehensive list, but I think that there are some concepts that we need to do our due diligence on and ensure that our children are at least aware of. Of course, if these are concepts that you yourself don’t practice or believe in, well, maybe this isn’t the conversation for you.

Here is my short list:

First, that money is not an infinite thing. That you don’t have all of it in the world (at least not yet).

Second, that with work (not necessarily hard work), comes money.

Third, that in this world that we live in that thinks it’s OK to constantly be in debt, there are huge, unending benefits to staying out of debt.

Fourth, that if you have extra money, you can get that to make more money for you without working.

And I could go on and on.

Another thing that I would be sure to instill in them is that there are two sides to money. Not necessarily a good and a bad side, but just two sides. I will give you an example. When I was growing up, whenever it came to something extra in our household, it almost always came down from the mountaintop (if you know what I mean) that we didn’t have enough money for it. Whatever it was. And I guess, most of the time, it was true. My parents lived a middle class lifestyle, and we had our fair share of nice things, but I always remember hearing that we never had enough money.

The problem with that is that when we were able to build a pool in the back yard, or buy a brand new car or whatever else it was, we never really heard that we actually did have enough money. Therefore, we felt guilty for the first few years of having the pool because we still thought that we didn’t have enough money for it, and that my parents would be in the poor house because of it and how could we enjoy it and so on and so on and so on.

I understand why my parents took this approach with us; I am just saying that I think it was wrong. Of course it’s important to let your kids know that money is not an infinite thing, but you also have to let them know that by spending it wisely, that you can ENJOY certain things in life as well. This is what I like to call the two sides of money.

If you don’t do this, I fear your children will grow up with a quite negative view of money (some people call this your “money blueprint”, I say call it whatever you want). That money is something that has to be worked hard for, and very hard. That money is just something that you constantly never have enough of. That you’ll spend your entire life chasing that “money” carrot, always to fall just a little bit short.

I think it’s up to us to show our children that money is something to be worked for, but also to be enjoyed when possible.

Instilling the correct beliefs about money in our children is a responsibility that I think we as parents all need to take seriously.

If you’d like to see what people are saying about my book with respect to the influence it can have on children, check out the reviews it has received on Amazon.

I never even thought of this, but if you do have children in your life who need some money guidance, this book could play an important role in getting them on the right track.