As much as we may realize it or not, a lot of our adult behavior mirrors what we saw our parents doing when we were kids. This is even more the case surrounding taboo topics when we may not have had other opportunities to see others modeling healthy behavior or to learn about it in school. Money – how we spend, save, and invest it, and how much of it we ultimately have – is one of those things.
Since we talk about money a lot, it shouldn’t have been a surprise a couple years ago when our then preschooler daughter offered to bring her own treasured shekel and agorot coins on a grocery shopping trip in order to help us out. We were shocked. As she pointed out, we talked often about ways to save, and when shopping – she had never seen us hand money to the cashier, which must mean we didn’t have any. To further prove her point, we had recently gotten rid of our car, and lived (and still do) in a tiny apartment, while most of her friends had cars and larger homes. Our precious daughter had every reason to believe that we were struggling financially.
After picking our jaws up off the floor (though we really shouldn’t have been surprised), we reassured her that baruch hashem (thank God) we do have enough money for all of our needs and many of our wants. We then launched into a quick crash course on credit cards and digital payments (which we personally prefer over cash) and assured her that while we don’t see the actual transfer of money, we do pay every time we go shopping.
The best way to teach your kids anything, but especially something you are passionate about and want them to really understand well, is to talk about it openly, often and with no judgement. Include them in conversation. Ask them what they think. Anything is a teachable moment. (May our conversations about the birds and the bees be as open and relaxed as our conversations about money.)
We explain that we work hard to save money, not because we don’t have enough, but because we try to live intentionally with our money. We want to use it more for things we care about – such as enjoying time together as a family, giving tzedaka (charity), and our pursuit of financial freedom and less for the newest gadgets, the latest styles or takeout from that new restaurant.
We sometimes bring our children shopping and have our daughter help compare prices and find the best deals. She has recently started brainstorming business initiatives to make her own money, and we couldn’t be prouder. She is very likely the only one in her class who knows what compound interest is.
We also have the book If You Made a Million and read it often with our kids. We have not yet gotten to the point of allowance, but are considering about its pros and cons. Our kids are still little, and our toddler doesn’t know what money is at all, so this is all very much still a work in progress as we still are learning how to do this ourselves.
How do you teach your kids about money? Do you give them an allowance?
Leave a Reply