The iconic 1969 hit by Crosby, Stills & Nash could never be more applicable than it is today. The song’s lyrics can be especially applied when speaking of finances – passing on the lessons you’ve learned and teaching kids to make the right decisions that will allow them to achieve their dreams. July 7 is designated as national “Take Your Daughter for a Walk” Day. While I think that the “national day of” thing has started to get a little out of hand, this one strikes straight to my heart as the father of two daughters (Jaren and Jade) who are 17 and 15 years old. This week, the elder is moving to Nashville to chase her dream of being a Christian music artist!
As parents, we often look back on how we may have mismanaged our financial situation and had to spend years digging ourselves out of debt from our childish beginnings on our own. Sometimes, we feel inadequate about speaking to our children about money, because we weren’t able to save enough for their college education. I want you to erase those thoughts from your mind, and know that when it comes to finances, you have abundant wisdom to share.
Empower your kids with the financial life lessons you have learned:
- Always pay yourself first. Do not expect anyone or anything to take care of you in the future. The only way to have true independence is to put money away into savings even before you start your budgeting process.
- Spend less than you make. Budgeting is a very simple financial process that we assume our children either know, or have been taught somewhere (in school?). The crazy thing is that the things our kids need most in life must be taught – budgeting, balancing a checkbook ledger, basic investing principles, how to place a to-go order, file taxes and change a tire – they often aren’t learning these things in school and need their parents to impart this knowledge.
- If you don’t have the money for it, don’t buy it. In our current culture of instant gratification – almost an entitlement society – kids are taught that if other people have something, then everyone else should be able to have it. This can get young people into trouble, by using borrowed money on credit cards in an attempt to “keep up with the Joneses.”
If you are a parent, or even a grandparent, take time to pass down your wisdom and life lessons. Often, our children are learning from us through observation, our good and bad habits. In my opinion, the best way to break the cycle of bad habits is to be honest, open and vulnerable in our instruction and parenting. “Teach your children well …” I’m sure that is exactly what MCM readers do; but these days, it often seems to be a lost art.
If you have yet to have these discussions with your kids, the time to start is now. Taking the time and being intentional with your kids about simple money management lessons will set them up for a bright future. It could be one of the most valuable pieces of wisdom you share with them! Then, they won’t have to celebrate national “Throw Away the Should Haves and Could Haves” Day, which happens to fall on Saturday, July 17. (Did I mention how I feel about these “days” getting a little crazy?)