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Parents: Don't Raise No Money Fools

The world teaches our children plenty and there are just some things I would rather them learn from me. We can either take the time to teach them about money or allow life to teach them. How do you think that will work out?
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Happy father and son reading book together in bed
Happy father and son reading book together in bed

As a parent, I often go back and forth in my feelings about my kids growing up. One day I can't wait for them to be a little older so they can do certain things for themselves without hollering mama every ten minutes. Other times as I snuggle and watch their favorite shows with them, I banish all thoughts of them ever growing up.

I want to prepare them as best as I can for their future while I have the chance. I cover my bases when it comes to introducing them to new foods. I keep an up to date in-home library full of books to pique their interests. I often talk to my 6-year-old daughter about loving the person God created her to be, but yet, I know there are some lessons that are equally important and those are lessons about money.

Parents, if one thing is certain, we can encourage our kids in academics, sports, and extracurricular activities, but if we fail to make sure they can handle their money, all of these other things we fuss about won't even matter.

You could probably think of several celebrities right this moment who have nothing to show for their success. More commonly, there are people probably living in your neighborhood who have obtained their college degrees and yet are still living paycheck to paycheck. Regardless of social status or level of fame, all of them have one thing in common -- they aren't very good with money.

This is why I encourage parents to master money management for themselves and pass along those lessons to their kids. Money surely isn't everything, but not knowing how to use it creates unnecessary burdens. Raising kids who make straight A's or can perform a perfect pirouette won't mean a thing if they are stupid with money. Therefore, today I'm presenting four simple strategies to help make sure you don't raise a money fool.

Encourage them to work for what they want.

Self-absorbed, spoiled children who think they are supposed to be handed everything in life are no fun to be around. Many of them could use a lesson or two in working for what they want. Kids naturally ask for things and when they do, we can't let this opportunity pass without teaching them about earning money for the things they want instead of expecting a handout.

So put your wallet back in its proper place and stop giving them everything they want. Encourage them to take on additional jobs or roles around the house and save for things. You have to work for everything you have (or let's hope), so why shouldn't they?

Be a good steward of your own money.

Kids learn by example. If you're swiping cards at Macy's, handing over yearly bonuses at Target, and dodging bill collectors when the bills are due, your kids may very well end up emulating what they've seen you do. Instead of neglecting your financial situation, own up to it and make it right. Create a plan to get out of debt and be responsible with your spending. This is a much better lesson for your kids to learn and just maybe, they will be more receptive to listen to any financial advice you pass along.

If you're already doing the right thing, make sure your kids know why you're doing things that way. Just because you model the positive money behavior doesn't mean it will translate into a lesson for your kids. Tell them you pay the bills on time and spend carefully so you can afford things you really value.

Encourage them to put what they learn into action.

Don't be afraid to allow your older children manage their money. If you've taught them well, they need an opportunity to put what they've learned into practice. Teenagers may think they know everything, but there are still a few valuable lessons you can provide. Teach them how to create a budget and manage some of their expenses for a couple of months.

With practice, budgeting will become second nature to them and they will learn to be responsible with their money. Of course, they may fail a few times, but this isn't the time to badger them or bail them out. This leads me into my next point...

Don't stop them when they are about to screw up.

Sometimes kids have to learn the hard way. If you've given them $60 for the month, shown them how to create a budget, and they only have $10 left by week two -- don't say anything! Let them carry on with their plan to spend more before they are halfway through the month.

They will learn through trial and error how to budget to meet their needs for an entire month if you don't bail them out every time their cash starts burning a hole in their pocket. So when that party comes up in week three and they need $20 to go, instead of handing them a Jackson, make them sit at home and party with you. That'll teach them.

In conclusion

The world teaches our children plenty and there are just some things I would rather them learn from me. We can either take the time to teach them about money or allow life to teach them. How do you think that will work out?

Instead of investing all of our time into making sure they get through school with honors and pursue well-paying jobs, let's make sure they know how to manage their money. There are enough people with successful careers and broken pocketbooks.

If you do something about it now, you can avoid contributing to the next generation of money fools. After all, who wants their precious gold medalist to move back in at thirty-five because they're broke?