Teaching Kids About Money

Teaching Kids About Money

While driving my daughter, Whitney, to school recently we were listening to Whitney Houston’s rendition of the classic song, “Greatest Love of All. The first line of that song is, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”. It made me think of recent conversations about money that we’ve been having at our house.

With two teens—a son soon to head off to college and a daughter in high school, money comes up a lot. And, that fits nicely with my professional pursuits—as I lead the team that recently launched our refreshed Student Union site. (If you haven’t seen the site yet, take a look. Here students can find engaging tools, and resources that are critical to building financial literacy in a fun and positive learning environment.)

Conversations about money with my kids is so different than the way I learned about money. My mother was a widowed mother of five so our conversations about money went something like this, “now we’re going into this grocery store, don’t look at nothing, don’t touch nothing, ‘cause you ain’t gettin’ nothing”. All I knew about money was we didn’t have any. Hell, I wanted to go “cuckoo” for Cocoa Puffs just like every other kid, but my mom bought the cereal that just said Cereal on the front of the box. No brand name or fancy packaging, just that white box and black letters-Cereal. My mom kept it all the way Real! I guess she was teaching us delayed gratification.

My kids are privileged, certainly not as privileged as some, but privileged none-the-less. My kids think I’m an ATM. My daughter recently asked me about tickets to go see Adele. Once I realized how much Adele tickets were I told her, “if you want to go see A-Dele, you need to get A-Job”! Does this play out at your house, too? I’m really fortunate though, my kids don’t ask for a lot of “stuff” and their identity and self worth certainly aren’t tied to material things; that’s something I’m really proud of.

Talking to your kids about money is a critical—but not always easy—part of parenting. It’s like talking about sex, drugs, race; all the really hard stuff. They’re uncomfortable and so are you, but it is your obligation to your kids to teach them about money, it will make their life so much easier if they have an understanding of credit, budgeting and saving.

As the author J.K. Rowling’s said, “I’m teaching my kids to be more than consumers”. That’s really at the crux of it for me.

What kind of money conversations do you have with your kids? What conversations do you still need to have?