When I was a teenager, I was positive my parents were trying to ruin my life — which teenager isn’t? Now, 10 years later, I realize their ploys were in fact financial lessons for the future.
I completely understand that many parents want to provide more than they had growing up. But as the payment industry changes and the U.S. struggles to overcome mass debt, it’s crucial for you to teach your children about money through independence.
Having conversations with your children about appropriate money management is important, but actually showing them how to be financially independent will stick with them longer. Here are three simple moves my parents made that pushed me to get a job, and learn about money management:
Buy Your Children Clothes
I apologize in advance to my mother but the woman has a whacky sense of style, one that definitely doesn’t fit my tastes. I’ll admit that I am not the trendiest person, but in high school when every girl expresses herself through her wardrobe it was important that I look the part of an angsty teen. I could not bare to wear another Old Navy zip-up vest.
So when I went to my mother with my palm open in anticipation of $40 for some new threads all she gave me was a high five. This was my first hint that I should get a job.
Feed Your Children at Home
I am big advocate of family dinners. Don’t get me wrong, my house was not always a Leave it To Beaver episode, but family dinners were a constant. So when I got older and licenses started popping up in social circles, the new option for dinner became grabbing a few friends and stuffing our faces with empty calories at the mall.
My parents were more than happy to let me explore the suburban social jungle that is Northbrook Court, but they made it very clear they were not paying for my dinners outside of the house. So, if I wanted to go to dinner with friends I had to fund my own adventures.
Don’t Pay For Gas
I was lucky enough to inherit my mother’s super classy Nissan Quest minivan — pretty cool guys! Having my own car in high school was a privilege and a blessing. Not getting gas money, on the other hand put a huge damper on my independence.
This was the final straw that pushed me into getting a job. At the time, I thought my life was like totally, so unfair! But in retrospect, I learned about the importance of saving money at a young age. While friends of mine didn’t have any expenses in their teens, I watched them struggle after college.
As a parent, you want to be a provider, but you do not want be an enabler. I honestly think paying for all your children’s wants is a harmful habit for the future. My parents offered all the essentials I needed, but on their terms. If I wanted something, they encouraged me to go after it through hard work.
Besides, the money they weren’t spending on trendy clothes was being put towards my education. Children today will have extremely easy access to money tomorrow, it is your job as a parent to make sure they know how to use it.