I'm not coming (intentionally) for any moms or dads, but I do need to get a few things off my chest about how we're preparing our youth for financial success. We prepare our children for many aspects of their lives. However, it has been proven financial literacy is an area of much-desired improvement. I'm not here to present more ways to raise financially smart children. Instead, I'm going to weigh in on some of the stupid things you may or may not be teaching your kids about money.
Let's not make this longer than it has to be. Here are 6 stupid things you need to stop teaching your kids about money so they can grow up and become financially responsible adults.
1. You can have whatever you want, even to my (and everybody else's) detriment.
You love them and you want them to have the best of everything -- I get it. I have two precious ones and I feel like the very ground they walk on should be made of gold (although I'll never let them know it).
Regardless of how I feel about my kids, I will not sleep in the living room just so they can have a designated playroom. I will not avoid my car payment for their bi-weekly gymnastic classes, and I will not walk around looking a hot mess so I can afford their designer clothes. This is a downright lesson in selfishness and I won't raise two kids who think it's okay, even normal, for others to go lacking so they can have the best of everything.
2. It's okay to satisfy your wants immediately aka instant gratification.
I'll go ahead and raise my hand here, I'm terrible with instant gratification -- but not how you may be thinking. I don't see a pair of shoes and start swiping debit cards. My bad habit is food and I don't mind handing over any form of currency for sugar.
I've got to do better and so do you if you're displaying similar behaviors in front of your children. Maybe you fancy buying unnecessary clothing every week or you allow your child to grab treats all the time at checkout. Whatever the vice may be, we're sending very bad signals that teach our kids impulse control is not a factor when it comes to spending money.
3. Go ahead, go on to college. I haven't saved a dime, but I'll give you whatever I can, whenever you want it.
I'm not talking about your 4.0 GPA valedictorian here, I'm talking about your C average kid who coasted their way through high school with a chip on their shoulder. The same kid who thought it was unnecessary to do anything above ordinary, hold a part-time job or even clean their room. Yet, they think going to college is the fun thing to do and you are unprepared to send them.
Instead of admitting to your child they are better off getting a job or sticking close to home, you further encourage their foolishness by telling them you'll find a way. Leading back to example number one of the stupid things you may be teaching your kids about money, you put yourself in a detrimental position to send a kid to college who really shouldn't be there. All I can say is, this is not cool.
4. Everyone makes a car payment. You know what, you're 16, let's go buy you a car (even though we can't afford it)!
Don't get me wrong, if you can afford a car payment for your kid, that's totally fine. What's not fine is encouraging a mentality that you can finance everything you want, even though you don't need it -- and especially if you can't afford it. Back to example number one, I will not put myself in a financially precarious position just for these children of mine and neither should you. If all you can afford is a bicycle for your kid to ride up the street to school, then so be it.
5. Budgeting is for broke folks.
This one perplexes me. Not only because it's stupid, but because it's simply wrong. Budgeting is for smart folks. There is nothing wrong with creating a plan to tell your money where to go every month. This is a great principle to teach your kids, but instead you're telling them budgets are for broke people. Stop it. Instead, teach them budgeting helps you plan for future wants and needs.
6. If you want it, let's go ahead and charge it!
Please put the plastic down. Seriously, it's really hard for these poor kids to understand a credit card is not magic -- it's debt! They see grown-ups pull out these pretty cards, swipe them, and get whatever the heck they want. Kids need to understand the principles behind credit or they will grow up thinking that magic money card is there for everything they want.
This way of thinking makes it easier for credit card companies to target mister or miss C average mentioned above -- the one you just had to send to college on your last dime even though they weren't ready. Before you know it, they'll be at your door holding credit card bills that they expect you to pay.
Alright, I'll get off the box for now, but don't say I didn't warn you. Kids do grow up and some of them become little replicas of the people they were raised by. If you're all comfortable knowing you're setting your kids up for a financial trap, continue to do all the above.
If you want them to make better decisions about finances, you have to capitalize on all the incredible teaching opportunities that will come and prepare them to be successful with money. Otherwise, we will just be raising another generation of financially illiterate children who will teach these same stupid things to their kids. If this happens, damn us all.
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