Growing Up With Kmart and Keds, Teaching Kids About Money

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Earn it, don’t burn it

You can burn through cash 1,000 times faster than you can earn it. Always evaluate (as objectively as a teenage mind can), whether you really need to buy X. Why are you buying it? What do you hope it will do for you? Has it done that for anyone else? Do you really believe it will work for you? Really?

Money doesn’t grow on trees

When a teenager gets their first substantial paycheck, reality usually sets in. Money IS limited and must be spent wisely. It must also be budgeted, saved, and invested for the future. My daughters learned this lesson early and paid half of the cost of their first cars! No, I didn’t buy my kids a car when they turned 16 but I did tell them that I would match half of their first one, up to $4,000 out of my pocket. Both took me up on it but neither paid more than $5,000 total. Thank you girls!

Understand opportunity costs

Money is a scarce resource and what you spend today, is unavailable to be spent tomorrow. I’ve tried to condition my son to understand that when he has some cash and we go to a fair or the mall, he can’t buy everything he sees. I keep telling him, you never know what’s around the corner that you may want more than what you’re looking at right now. Wait. See if the impulse passes. If it does, you just saved yourself some regret. If it doesn’t, you can go back and buy it, knowing that you didn’t shortchange yourself

Handle paychecks with care

If you’re child’s paychecks are not direct deposited (hopefully into an Ally savings account), they’re like dynamite. The spark of one “I want that” and that paycheck can be completely gone, exploded forever.

Free lunch? Forget about it.

There is no such thing as a free lunch! If it sounds to good to be true, it IS. Everything costs something, even if YOU didn’t pay for it personally. Never forget that. There is no such thing as free housing, free medical care, or free transportation.

Time IS money

Don’t be late for work, especially if you’re paid hourly. Along those same lines, don’t spend 2 hours to save $5.

Remember the needs of others

This one is the most difficult for kids OR adults to learn. We work hard for the money we get, then we get a large chunk removed from us in the form of taxes. We want to keep what’s left for ourselves and that’s completely understandable. But there are others who can benefit when we give just a little. Where you give or to what cause isn’t important. What is important is that you give something (and it doesn’t always have to be money) because what you’re giving is a piece of yourself and you’re connecting yourself to those in need. We all benefit from stronger connections. I don’t believe in enforcing a law about how much my kids should give. Even though I do encourage them to give, how much is entirely between them and God.

Many times it’s difficult to talk to kids about money

Why? Perhaps because we feel like hypocrites because we’ve made so many mistakes in the past. Telling them NOT to do something YOU did feels slimy. But kids can really benefit from the wisdom of our experiences … and it will make them better prepared for the world ahead of them.

And that is why you’re a parent.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1091 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

Ron is the founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal. He has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a partner in a national building materials company.

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