I looked an eighth grade boy in the eye and asked him, “How much money to you need to live off of for a month?”
He scoffed at me and replied, “Fifty bucks.”
“Where would you live?” I wanted to know how he thought that was at all possible.
“On the sidewalk, duh.”
Assuming he could avoid the police for loitering I followed up with, “What would you eat?”
“Cheeseburgers on the dollar menu.”
Cheeseburgers for daily meals probably wouldn’t be the most nourishing choice for a growing boy like him. His clothes would be tattered, he would smell badly, and maybe have a few rotting teeth after just that first month. I guess he wouldn’t have any loans to pay off or he wouldn’t want to go to the movies.
I changed the subject so I wouldn’t embarrass him too much, but I couldn’t shake the shock I had that he honestly believed he could do that. Hoping to find a financially-responsible thirteen-year-old I asked another boy.
“Hey, Howard. How much money do you need to live off of for a month?”
“Well, you’ve got your rent or mortage, groceries, your electric bills…” My hopes were rising. “I’d say around $5,000.” Shoot. The other end of the spectrum.
It would be great to bring in $5,000 a month, but if that was required of my husband and I to function for thirty days I would consider enrolling myself in anti-high-maintenance school.
How I Learned Financial Responsibility
I was aware of financial responsibility from a pretty early age. When I was 10 I stopped asking my parents for money. I never complained that we didn’t go on many vacations because I understood that vacations were luxeries, not necessities.
My parents raised me to be aware of the power of currency and I want to do that for my children. When they’re thrown into the real world I want them to be prepared to work hard and to be smart about their spending.
How Many Children Think View Money
Money to kids means more video games, the newest game console, and the latest clothes to impress their crush. Having more of it means they’re better than the kids who don’t have much of it at all. Kids’ minds seem unable to fully grasp the concept of finance in the real world. This is partially because they’re kids, but they’re also a product of their environment .
I don’t want my six-year-old paying me rent; kids need their childhood protected from adult responsibilities, but they also need to be equipped with some financial knowledge.
3 Ways to Teach Your Kids Financial Responsibility
My parents and other parents I know have made their children financially responsible using a number of techniques. You can do the same . . . .
1. Have your children do chores.
Having your children do chores makes them realize that you have to work for money. It doesn’t grow on trees and it’s not realistic to take the whole family to Disneyland twice a year. They’ll complain about doing dishes and taking out the trash, but their mood will change when you put the green in their hot, little hands.
You’re also doing them a favor by showing them the responsiblities of their future. Your son will impress his future girlfriend with the profiency of his domesticity.
2. Teach your children to strive for good grades and value education.
Working in the education system has opened my eyes to the attitudes of the future generations. It seems that education is not as highly valued as it once was. According to the Census Bureau.tm, those with Bachelor’s Degrees earn forty five percent more annually than those with high school diplomas. Pushing your child to do well in school will open doors to fulfill their dreams, have an overall happy life and give them a financially stable future. Take the time to help them with their homework and monitor their grades closely so they can succeed.
Related: Check out Dave Ramsey’s 5th Baby Step for help with college investing.
3. Don’t spoil your children.
That’s what grandparents are for, right? Parents should give to their children in accordance to the “happy-medium money spectrum:” somewhere between extreme-stinginess-making-them-cry and smelly-spoiled-rotten. Treating them with an expensive gift for no reason with bad behavior teaches them they can get whatever they want. A gift out of nowhere says that money isn’t a factor and maybe it can in fact grow on trees.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. I am not yet a parent and I have a lot to learn, but my experience with kids has led me to believe the majority need more education about money. If funding for public schools was highly available I would suggest a budgeting class for middle schoolers. It may help, but the real education comes from home. Love them will all your heart, make them work hard and reward them at the proper time.
Do you have children? Leave your expert opinion in the comments below!