June 20, 2016

Confidence and compassion: Teaching kids about money

JUNE 20, 2016

If you had asked me where money came from when I was five years old I probably would have said, “It comes from cheques.”I knew what cheques were. I saw that when you wrote one you received things in return. I had a bank account. I had a piggy bank. What I didn’t have was a conversation, an allowance, or anything consistent or concrete that taught me anything GOOD about money...other than the fact that it was GOOD to have it.

I don’t know whether it was a generational or gender issue in my house, I suspect it was a bit of both, but the overall vibe was that money was something that happened TO YOU, like a fairly tale or tragedy, not something that you DID, MANAGED, SAVED, CONTROLLED or to which you would pay the least bit of ATTENTION.


By the time I was 8 or 9, wandering down to the ATM on a Saturday to get cash for my mom (yep, I did) I quickly saw the correlation between my mother’s mood and the remaining balance, which was always too low, and a surprise, EVERY - SINGLE - TIME.


My mom was a well-educated, well-paid spender whose financial plan was based on HOPE. Hoping that she still had some room on the overdraft. Hoping that a cheque hadn’t gone through so this face to face purchase would not go awry. In her defense, she did the only thing that she knew how to do. That’s all parents can do, I think. I see that now, at least. That was how she functioned, and that was how (more or less) I learned about money as a kid.


I have thought about many ways to address talking to kids about money but, as I’m not a parent, WHO AM I to give advice? I have no idea how parents manage to do all that they do on any given day, let alone talk to their kids about money. Being a former nanny, I know that success in a day with a toddler can sometimes only be measured by how many healthy things you were able to sneak into a smoothie because they won’t eat anything else!!!! (*exhale....5...4...3...2...1....)


So, instead of trying to come up with a master plan, I’m sharing this brief post that showed up on FaceBook from Humans of New York. It sums up what, in my mind, will instill the basic money tools that kids need to learn before anxiety ridden emotions, and real, adulthood consequences attach themselves to the almighty dollar.


“Every week I get one dollar for allowance. Then I get to choose the section where I put my dollar. There are four sections: spend, save, donate, and invest. If I put a dollar in the ‘invest section,' my parents give me two extra pennies at the end of every month. I’ve only used my 'spend section' twice! I have way over $10 in my 'invest section.' I used to have more but I took some money out and put it in my 'donate section.' We used to it to buy food for people who don’t have much money in their 'spend section.'”


That’s it.One paragraph (from the voice of a child) that can turn financial confidence and compassion into a habit. Genius.




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Thank you for reading!

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