Being in the financial industry, I have had the privilege of observing many different families, their behaviors, thoughts on money and spending habits. I find it interesting that people can vary so drastically on their views on money, these views often being shaped by their environment, how they have been raised and often their general outlook on life. After encountering my own experiences, I hope to pass on the following to my children whether it be through life lessons or a good old-fashioned conversation:
- Money will never be a taboo topic in our family.
I find it interesting that there are topics in families that are just not talked about. By no means do I think I have all of the answers, but I would do anything to pass the information I have gathered and lessons I have learned on to my kids. I would love for them to learn from my mistakes rather than having them make their own (although I am all for letting kids fail so they can learn to get back up, but if it can be avoided that’s even better). Money (and any other topic really) will never be taboo or off limits in our family. I will talk to my kids about our budget, if there are purchases we are saving for and if there is something we can’t afford. This is all part of growing up and I believe if kids see their parents be conscious of their spending and responsible about money, they too will have a higher chance of doing the same when they get older.
- If you have a spending problem – more money will not solve the problem.
When I say spending, I’m not referring to costs that are generally out of our control: medical/rent/electricity. I’m talking about the money you spend in the Target dollar spot, Hobby Lobby or the $5 coffee you buy at Starbucks (I say you, but I really mean me because these are all things I love!) What I’m saying is if you have a spending problem, (warning…tough love ahead) it is often because you are trying to fill a void with money. The void can be sourced from all different places such as low self-esteem, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, the list goes on. Whatever the source is, adding more money to the equation is not going to solve your spending problem. However, getting to the root of the issue and pulling that entire root out of the ground-that will solve the issue.
- Don’t be greedy-you can’t take it with you.
This is a favorite because my dad instilled this in me ever since I was a little girl. Yes you need to save money so you can take care of any emergencies that arise and yes you need to save for the future, but don’t be so closed handed on your money that you can’t help people out along the way. Buy the coffee for the police officer you see, leave the large tip for the waitress who looks overworked. You can’t take money with you, so why not lend a helping hand to your neighbor?
- Don’t treat someone differently because of their haves or have nots.
The people you look up to or have in your life should not be influenced by the amount of money they have. We live in such a materialistic society, that I find it sad that the things that have such value placed on them in society are those of monetary value. I hope my kids don’t place judgement on people based on the money they have or don’t have. This can go both ways – don’t assume someone is snooty and impersonal because they have money and don’t assume someone is lazy because they don’t. Life is full of so many adventures (good and bad) and you never know what type of adventure someone is in the middle of. I hope my kids are able to look past the current monetary state someone is in and see someone’s true heart.
- Don’t let money define you.
It makes me cringe when I hear kids say “I want to be a xxxxxxx when I grow up because they make a lot of money.” Letting money be the driving factor in your career choice can be a slippery slope. I hope my kids don’t look to money for validation or purpose. Because believe me, I have tried it and it doesn’t work (and if it does, it’s guaranteed to be short-lived).I hope my kids are able to find a career someday that is also their passion, not just a job that pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong – there can be seasons of life where work is nothing more than a paycheck because you just have to make ends meet. I just wish for those seasons to have a short duration in my kids’ lives, if any at all, so they can spend most of their lives doing something they love.
I’m not sure how I will teach all of these things to my babies, but that’s my goal. I hope that when they go off to college (or whatever they decide to do after high school) that I have instilled these values in them so they can go off to be their own person, make a difference, conquer the world and make financially sound decisions along the way.