Kids are easily confused about money, it’s true. Very little ones don’t always get it. Case in point: My son is getting better about understanding money, but he’s only seven years old, so he thinks paying $150,000 for a jet pack is a good plan. Until about a year ago, he also thought that rent and a six pack of hotwheels cost about the same. Money is confusing – even to adults. Still, you can work with your kids and help them to understand money, OR you can screw them up about it.
Here are some good ways to confuse your poor child when it comes to money issues:Â
NEVER discuss money; especially not the bills: I know families like this. They say, “I don’t want the kids to worry about money” or “It’s not the kid’s business how much the water bill is.” Well, eventually bills, budgeting, and money are going to be a key issue for your child. It’s better to have them involved. If we can’t afford something because we need to pay for groceries and electricity, I do tell Cedar, and he understands that bills come first, then the fun stuff. He is better about conserving resources because of this, and doesn’t argue (much) when I say we can’t afford an item.
You flat out lie: If you say, “We can’t afford it” but you’ve got three TVs, a couple of cars, 30 pairs of shoes, more tools then you need, and numerous magazine subscriptions, then you maybe can afford it, but you don’t want to buy it. If you don’t want to buy something you need to tell your child why. Kids see all that stuff you own sitting around, and they know it came from somewhere. Some studies show that kids often feel bad or overly greedy when parents simply say something is too expensive or that they can’t afford it, without giving a reason.
Don’t allow your kid to save up for something he wants: You could buy him everything he wants, but even little kids are given money. You can let him save for a remote control car, it’s a good lesson, and certainly won’t kill him.
You never buy your kid anything: Ok, contrary to the above statement, there are parents who take this whole, make the kid pay for stuff too far. My mom for example, decided when I was 10 I should buy my own toothpaste, shampoo, and other basic items.Â Having no job, I used birthday money and so on. Later she made me pay rent (I was 15). I’ll tell you, I grew up to be REALLY worried about money; I actually feel anxious about it sometimes. You had kids, it was your choice, so provide the basics for them. No arguing. I actually feel like this; once in a while I get an item I want, no questions asked, so why shouldn’t my son? Sometimes if he asks for an item, and I have the money, he just plain gets it.
You say stuff that makes no sense: Don’t use sayings like, “Money doesn’t grow on trees” around kids – try actually talking to your child about money in a real way that matters and makes sense. Cute sayings only confuse most kids.
You pay for chores: Ok, this one is a little iffy, because many parents think paying for chores is a good thing. I’m more of the mindset that chores are a family affair. I don’t get paid to do them, and neither does my son.Â We should all help out because we want a decent home, not because of another gain. It’s true, we get paid for work, but honestly, chores are not your child’s job, it’s simply what needs to happen to maintain a household. You know? BUT I know some disagree. I think it’s a bad idea because it’s not reality. I’ve never been paid for doing the dishes so…
You use money as punishment: Taking away money because someone hits their little brother or throws a temper tantrum is arbitrary. It also does not fit the actual crime. You can really confuse your child if you take away money they have for something completely non-money related.
You use money as love: Kids would rather have your time than your money. It sounds all sloppy sentimental, but they really would. If your child needs more time, like say she asks you to play a board game, try to set a time to play. Don’t fall into that trap where later you buy her something, because you missed playing with her, just find the time. Everyone will feel better.
What are some mistakes you see related to parenting, kids, and money?
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