Stop Making These Money Mistakes With Your Kids!

Nia Hendricks
Are you missing opportunities to teach your kids to be wise about money?

People get weird about money. It’s the strange truth. Most millenials and younger finish college with student loans piled high, new car payments, and a low-paying entry-level job, dazed and wondering why no one taught them about money when they were kids. Could it be that their parents never took the opportunity to teach them?

That doesn’t have to be your kid’s story. A lot of parents miss the opportunity to teach their children about financial responsibility simply because they don’t invite them into the process. Or, they may not even have a handle on their finances themselves. Stop making these classic mistakes with money and start giving your kids a financial education that will serve them for their lifetime:

Stop fighting about money. Start getting on the same page.

If you grew up in a home with parents constantly fighting about money like me, you probably brought that baggage into your adult life. Which means you may have some bad habits you need to address. If money is often a point of contention between you and your spouse, your kids will notice. The tension is a sign that you and your spouse need to make some changes. This really requires humility. No one likes to admit they need to change, but with God’s help, we can! Schedule time to really talk about your finances with your spouse, make a budget, and talk through expectations. You may even need to apologize to each other and your children. If money is scary for you, Financial Peace University can empower you with the practical skills you need to approach finances (and get out of debt!) from a biblical perspective.
No one likes to admit they need to change, but with God’s help, we can!

Stop giving your kids an allowance. Start rewarding them for tasks.

An allowance is a step in the right direction toward teaching your kids to value money, but here’s the thing, most people aren’t just given money for existing. Most people have to work for their wages, and learning this early will help your kids value hard work for the rest of their lives. An allowance for chores is an even better step, but I believe every family member should help out with chores pro bono (keeping rooms clean, putting away clothes, etc.) because those things follow you for the rest of your life. If you want to go one step further, consider making a list of age-appropriate extra tasks that your kids can do on top of chores to earn a “commission”. Here are some ideas for each age group:

  • Kindergarten–1st Grade (may require some supervision)
    • Light dusting
    • Setting the table
    • Clearing the table

  • 2nd–5th Grade
    • Watering the plants
    • Folding laundry
    • Walking / grooming pets

  • 6th–8th Grade
    • Washing the car(s)
    • Tutoring younger siblings
    • Weeding the yard

  • 9th–12th Grade
    • Mowing the lawn
    • Babysitting younger siblings
    • Cooking dinner

Stop paying for everything. Start setting clear boundaries.

We all know that kids can be expensive. From diapers to senior year, the average american child costs parents upwards of $230,000 according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report — and that doesn’t even include paying for college tuition. There’s a lot that we parents want to give our kids, but we may not be doing them a favor by buying everything for them. If you give your kids an allowance or “commission”, they should be making some purchases themselves, especially as they get older.
Kids need to feel the weight of handing over money they’ve earned for something they think they need or want. Toys, extra clothes, candy treats (we’ve all experienced the grocery store tantrums), and other pleasures are things kids often think they need. When your kids ask to purchase something that falls into those categories, explain to them that if they want it, they will have to buy it with their own money. Of course, don’t be miserly, but set some boundaries, communicate, and stick to them!
Kids need to feel the weight of handing over money they’ve earned for something they think they need or want.

Stop making financial decisions on your own. Start being generous together.

While your kids probably won’t be advising you on your investments, you can give them a say in how your family gives back. Generosity is learned. The best ways to teach your children to be generous are to 1. Be generous yourself and 2. Involve your children in your giving. Have your kids choose a charity to give to, show them how you tithe to your church, and regularly encourage them to donate old toys and things they may no longer have need of.

As your kids get older, talk to them about budgeting for college, talk to them about minimum wage over dinner, talk to them about how much your mortgage costs, require them to get summer jobs — keep the conversation open! Equip them for the real world, so they can learn to take on the responsibilities ahead of them with confidence. It takes patience and hard work, but this investment will be one that your kids appreciate for the rest of their lives.
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