Nearly everything kids learn about money will come from their parents. In most cases, they are learning indirectly from watching and observing. They are picking up on your behaviours and attitudes.
Essentially, we want kids to grow up feeling positive about money. With a positive mindset, they will be more open to learning about money and, importantly, seek help if they need it. The opposite is true if they have a negative view of money.
In this blog, I go through 4 money mistakes that parents might not realise they are making which could be having a big impact on their kids' future financial health and wealth.
The 4 Parenting Money Mistakes
Parents not being aligned about money
I’ve heard many stories where a child has spent all their money but they really want something else right now. One parent says that they need to learn to budget/save to get it. Then the other parent comes in and just buys it for them to make them happy. This sends very confusing messages to the child and negates all the good work the first parent was doing.
For the benefit of your children, it is really important that you are aligned about how you are going to teach your kids about money.
Here are just some questions I’d recommend that you discuss with your partner
How much pocket money should you give to your kids and when?
What will you pay for vs what you expect your child to save up for?
What to do if your children ask for more money?
Who will help them learn about different money topics so they grow up financially healthy?
Should you set up a savings/investment account for your kids?
Some people believe that your biggest financial decision is your choice of partner. I’m not going to go into relationship advice, as that is not my area of expertise. However, whilst you are having the conversation about money and your kids, why not start discussing your own finances? I have heard positive things about couples who have monthly money 'dates'. On the specific date, they go through their finances and consider if they are spending on the things that they really value and enjoy.
2. Talking negatively about money
We might all say some comments about money in a flippant manner but kids might not fully appreciate that you are being flippant.
Common examples include:
“Money doesn’t grow on trees!”
“Money doesn’t buy happiness!”
“I’m not made of money!”
Whilst it is not your intention, these comments can leave children feeling quite anxious about money. They could see money in a negative light and not want to talk about it
I’ve previously written about some of these sayings and the impact they can have in my blog: “Avoid these 3 money sayings”.
3. Not talking about money
Whilst it might be tempting to not talk about money, as it might be a form of stress to you, by not talking about money it means your kids will grow up believing money is a bad thing, just like swearing (hopefully you don’t swear around the kids). As a result, they will avoid talking about money, avoid thinking about money and might not seek help when needed. This mindset is unlikely to lead them to grow up financially healthy.
Make sure you talk to your kids about money. Even if you talk about some of the money mistakes that you have made, that’s completely fine. They can learn from these. Just remember to focus on what you learned so it ends up being a positive conversation.
Also, it doesn’t have to be long lectures about money. It could be as simple as:
“How much of your pocket money are you going to save?”
“Out of interest, do you know how much a box of cereal costs?”
These simple conversations get them thinking of money and show that money isn’t a taboo topic.
4. Role modelling bad spending behaviours
We need our kids to learn to spend intentionally. This means avoiding impulse spending and spending to impress other people. This means that we as parents need to ensure we do the same. You won’t be surprised to hear that kids will pick up and follow many of their parent’s spending habits.
If there are things that you wouldn’t usually buy, explain the reason to your kids. Help them understand why you are making certain spending decisions. I just hope it isn’t because it is on special offer. If so, please read my blog ‘The Trip To The Village’.
Remember to highlight times when you were about to spend impulsively or to impress others but resisted. This shows them that it is not easy but you are happy with your decision.
If you are saving some money before you spend, again make sure you tell your kids as they might not appreciate that you are doing that. As you’ll know from many of my other blogs, my first rule of wealth is to make sure you ‘save before you spend’ as this allows for much more freedom when it comes to spending.
Please don’t underestimate how much your kids are learning about money from observing how to talk and behave when it comes to your own money.
Below are some recommendations in order to avoid the 4 parenting money mistakes:
Make sure you and your partner are aligned about money
Talk positively about money at home
Make sure you talk to your kids about money
Role model good spending behaviours
No matter how much you struggle with money, all parents have the ability to encourage their kids to save a little bit of money every time they receive some. This will help them form a savings habit. This savings habit can be life-changing as it means their kids will grow up spending less than they earn, i.e. they will follow the first rule of wealth.
I hope that after reading this, you talk with your partner about money so that there is alignment. My wife and I do this regularly including having a monthly money date! - we are by no means perfect but we are certainly trying.
If you found this blog useful, it would be amazing if you shared this with friends and families so they can start talking about money at home.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. To help teach your kids about money, why not sign up for our short Online Course? The 5 short videos will help you start talking to your kids about the most important money topics. Also, why not get them a copy of Grandpa's Fortune Fables?