It’s my parenting style to treat my children as they are miniature adults. Obviously, there are things I don’t share with them since they are not appropriate, but the bits I do tell them far outweigh the bits I don’t.
I have come across so many mothers who keep financial problems away from their kids and ignore the topic of money all together. For these mothers, “because I said so” is the go to answer when they can’t afford something or just don’t want to go into a reason why.
This may work for you; I am not one to tell you that if you choose these answers you are wrong. I am just telling you that it isn’t going to fly in my home. My kids are a product of me and there is no denying that. They have a lot of questions and want real answers. I love that they question things – it tells me they want to learn.
Just last week I taught my son the importance in credit. It all started because I was looking at low interest credit cards for excellent credit. My son came in and was curious as to what I was doing. He sat by me for a while and read on his own, but none of it made sense. Now let me remind you, I have a child who is only half way through elementary school, so clearly his knowledge of money is not that broad.
He started asking what it meant to have excellent credit. I gave him a brief rundown of how credit works and the importance in attaining excellent credit scores. Let me just tell you that in this moment I realized exactly how smart my kid is. He said something along the lines of, “but mom if you don’t have the money and use a credit card to buy things, can you really afford them to begin with?” It was a proud moment for me.
I went on to explain that was not the purpose of credit cards. I told him that many people get in trouble for that very reason. From there we went to talk about the things you should use your credit card for. I also stressed that by using it correctly he would have a credit score good enough to buy a house, a car and all of the things that are essentially necessary in life.
He seemed to get it, but being the type of person I am, I wanted to incorporate a second message. I talked to him about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he was interested in being a fireman or a doctor. Another proud moment, but I had to hold back my joy and discuss the bills that come with medical school. I told him that because his dad and I had been financially responsible we were able to help him to achieve his goals.
I know this story may seem silly, but believe that my son understood and his young mind soaked up knowledge and lessons he will take with him forever. Just yesterday we went shopping for summer clothes and when pulling out my debit card he says “mom can we really afford this stuff?” I started laughing and then came the lesson of the difference between debit and credit. My son sure is nosy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This evening my husband is planning on rolling over his 401k into a Roth IRA and I am secretly hoping that my son steps away from his video games to ask questions. There are rarely lessons I don’t want to teach, but it is just that much easier when they find the interest on their own. We are keeping it real around here all day, everyday!