I’m a big advocate for having children participate in the family finances. Unfortunately children don’t get enough personal finance taught in school so it will be our responsibility as parents to prepare them the best we can.
I grew up in a very frugal house. My mom wasted nothing and was always on the hunt for a good deal but this doesn’t mean I had any true understanding of money. Sure I knew how to grocery shop on a dime and could sniff out a sale miles away but she never taught us how to budget, even though I knew she was doing it regularly.
Money itself was never really talked about. We had basic cable because she wasn’t willing to buy the full cable package we so badly wanted (this was pre-28464 channel options for cable) because it was simply too expensive and a waste of money. I wanted to know what ”too expensive” was and why it was a waste of money when her kids wanted, and would use, it. Because I didn’t totally understand, in my nine-year-old mind, I just though my mom was being a big meenie.
I plan on involving our children in the family’s budget. I want them to see where our money goes towards running a household and why we may not be able to afford something or what we may need to change in order to make room for a new category. If kids decide they want a cell phone and mom and dad aren’t willing to pay more than X amount of dollars per month (ie they will not be having a $75 smartphone plan under moms dime), I want them to understand why we simply can’t do it. If we decided to cancel cable as a family decision we, as a family would also decide how and where to reallocate the money. If the kids want to partake in extracurricular activities, they need to know how these decisions affect the family.
Obviously mom and dad get the final word (since it’s our money!) but I think its important to allow children young and old to have a say and gain and understanding of how the family is run.
With older children, as soon as they get a job of any kind, it will be important to sit down with them and map out how they will use their money, before the manage to go to a mall and blow it all at the food court. Decide together how much will be saved, what it will be saved for (maybe long-term for post secondary, maybe saving for something like a laptop) and teach the value of a dollar. I’m not suggesting they don’t eat their money at the food court as long as they understand they only have ”x” amount of spending dollars to last ”x” amount of time, they can do what they want with it! Instilling the understanding will be the hardest part.
Involve young children with the purchase of things for them. Tell them you have $100 to buy school supplies and bring them with you so they can see what exactly $100 does or does not buy. To a child $100 is a lot of money, allowing them to see how far (or not-so-far) that money actually goes is a great lesson to teach.
Instilling money lessons in our children is invaluable. They’re never too young and it’s never too late to start.
Do you budget as a family?