“If you earn a dollar a week, as long as you pay yourself first and learn how to manage the rest, then you will never be poor,” my father said to me when I started my first job at age 15. This is my earliest memory of my father communicating to me about managing money. Unfortunately, the wise concept didn’t stick.
By the time I had graduated from college I was 23, had a pile of debt and an entry-level job that wasn’t going to pay- off my financial liability. Thus, I sought advice from my father, and he shared his advice on money-management. After consolidating my cards into one low- interest loan, I developed and stuck to a strict budget and in five years, right before my 28th birthday, I became 100 percent debt free! If only I had understood how to manage my finances sooner!
According to Steve Repak, Certified Financial PlannerTM and author of Dollars & Uncommon Sense, “Getting your children involved in the family finances at a young age can help them gain needed skills that will benefit them throughout their life.”
Research shows that parents who take a proactive approach by involving children early on in budget and money-matter discussions will positively influence the future economic success of their offspring.
Use the following recommendations to communicate with your family about money today to help prevent financial follies in the future.
Prepare. It’s important to set the tone. Pick the right time and place to ensure there are no distractions like cell phones, TVs, radios, games or such. Create a relaxed and comfortable environment.
Communicate with your kids and share how you make spending decisions by using statements such as, “We’re not going to spend our money that way because...” or “It’s not a good value because...,” rather than just saying, “It’s too expensive,” which may impart that you would buy it if you could afford it.
Approach. Use honest and direct language. Don’t shield your kids from challenging financial situations you are facing.
Tell them how important they are to you, but be honest with your family about finances.
Never be admonishing or overbearing in the conversation. Teenagers usually try to break rules and challenge authority; they will. Include them in planning and ask them for suggestions. They should never feel that you are imposing on them. But firmly and gently say no to unreasonable requests.
Set Goals Together. When kids get to participate and communicate in setting goals for themselves and the family, they get a feeling of cooperation, rather than competition. This also gives them a sense of achievement and boosts their self- confidence early on. Some goals could be as small as saving for a toy or as big as saving up to purchase a bicycle or a car. Perhaps you may want to open a checking/savings account for your child. Many banks and credit unions offer parents the opportunity to open an account in their child’s name. Owning and maintaining an account helps children learn important money management skills.
Emergencies and Re-Prioritizing. No matter how well organized your life and finances are, emergencies will happen. Teach your family to create a “rainy day” fund. This way children learn how to create back-up plans when such emergencies arise. However, when it rains, it pours, and sometimes you may exhaust your stashed emergency fund. In this case you might have to re-prioritize spending. Inform family members and involve them in tackling the financial issue.
Repeat/Review. Finally, discuss finances with your family periodically.
Warning! Repetition leads to securing positive habits in money management!
Discussions could be as frequent as weekly or monthly just to keep the family on track and maintain positive financial behaviors.
Also, it’s wise to review your family’s goals once a year to help raise awareness of financial success or areas for growth.
Ellie Parvin is and a member of the NFEC’s Personal Finance Speakers Association, Communication Professor and CEO of www.ellieparvin.com, Communication for Success, Health and Happiness. Learn more about the National Financial Education Council (NFEC) at www.FinancialEducatorsCouncil.org.
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