We previously touched on how, as a parent, we need to get our thinking right when it comes to money. A lot of us grew up with a weird attitude towards money, often about not having enough and wanting more. We become jealous of those who we perceive to have it all and we focus on what we think we need to keep up with the Jones’s. Sometimes we feel shame for what we have compared to others, but sometimes also shame for what we didn’t have.
When we become parents, we have the golden opportunity to teach our kids to think differently about money from the get go. We have the opportunity to undo the wrong and uncomfortable attitudes we had (and might still have) around money. Here are tips to create a healthy, balanced attitude towards money in your family’s life and your kids upbringing.
Pocket-money is a money management tool
By letting your kids help with family chores (washing dishes, feeding the dogs, making beds, cleaning the braai and setting tables), you are helping you kids to understand the necessary tasks of daily life – not because they are going to get rewarded for it. We are doing it to help our kids to learn life skills along the way. Why should it be any different when it comes to money managed?
Introduce money management with your kids by giving them weekly or monthly pocket money and let them save it and spend it the way they want. Be it on the Google Play Store for the hippest apps or on that extra data for the month. They will quickly learn the lesson of overspending or buying things that only gives them a limited time of fun and pleasure. Don’t be tempted to ‘top-up’ their pocket money for the rest of the month.
Gratitude comes in the form of paying bills
Paying bills doesn’t have to be this negative thing we usually don’t want to deal with. Involve your children by teaching them that bills are actually just reflections of pleasures already enjoyed. “Thank you Escom for keeping us warm in winter” and “Thank you Netflix for the entertainment”. “Thank you cellphone for connecting me to the world of games and chats with my friends”. Sharing this attitude with your kids teaches them that everything we consume is actually an exchange of goods and services for money.
You can go as far as involving them in the payment process as this is another incredible way to teach a valuable life skill. Ask them to help you find the amount owed on the bill, who it should be paid to and for what services or goods. Let them circle the amount to be paid and write “paid” on the bill before filing it away. They will love the process but more importantly, learn valuable lessons while having fun.
Sharing is Caring
It’s so easy to to get caught up in the attitude of “we might not have enough,” and the feeling of “ and what we have, we have to keep for ourselves”. This attitude needs changing. We should become more conscious of sharing what we have, and by doing that we are contributing to the greater good. When we show our kids to be generous (via donations, volunteering, helping other friends or families in hard times, tipping a water or the petrol attendant), we are teaching them how good it feels to give.
Anytime we do good for its own sake, we are modelling how to be a good human, and how to live with the sense that we are all connected, and we are very fortunate. That attitude alone sets our kids up to be appreciative for what they have, and to create more of it as they grow up.
Happiness doesn’t come from overconsumption
We live in a society overwhelmed with commercialism and in which more is never enough. As parents, we are tempted on a daily basis to give our kids everything they want, and replace it when it breaks. But really, think of the things that are dearest to you and you will be surprised in how often they are not things, but experiences. And if they re things: chances are they are things you worked really hard for and have a sense that you earned them.
Buying your child everything they want and catering to their every whim does not raise happy children – it raises children who have a false sense of entitlement and reality. You will be raising children who tend to develop anxiety in later years when they realise that things rarely fall magically into their lap without their own hard work and hustle. Teach them to appreciate what they have, with modesty and without entitlement.
Wealth is a state of mind
Thinking rich is essential to living a rich life. Constantly living in the fear-based state of never having enough instills a fearful mindset in young children that they will carry forward with them, and have to un-do later. “We can’t afford that, we could never go on that vacation, that’s only for rich people.” All of that language creates a false reality that money is only for a selected few, and if you don’t have it, you never will.
In reality, anything is possible – anything. And we can teach our kids to use that lens by involving them in planning and dreaming. Always wanted to go to Mauritius and stay at a family resort? Start a family vision board for that trip. Look up cool places to stay & airlines to use.
Involve your kids in using some of their own savings (from the pocket money) to put towards the trip. Make them feel a part of it – and give them the sense that they have ownership in making it happen. This is a hugely empowering pattern of thinking and behaving; much healthier than the attitude that “that’s not for us.”
Remember: our children pick up our words and behaviours and all the patterns that go along with them – often without us noticing. Being open to change your own attitude towards money is one of the best gifts we can give our kids, and that starts at a very young age. Why not start now?
Hero Life is a company that offers a free online Will, helps you to start saving for your kids’ education, and offers life insurance, designed specifically for young parents. Hero Life is an MMI Group initiative, and underwritten by Guardrisk Life Limited (Reg no 1999/013922/06), an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP license number 76).
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