Save. Spend. Splurge.

Don’t give your child a cushy, comfortable life.

Children enjoy working hard.

They enjoy emulating adults around them, and trying to shield them from “all the bad things”, including things like budgeting, taxes, and basic financial literacy, or acting like it is so difficult and tough, can really affect them as they grow older.

If you are a parent who reads a lot, you will see from a young age, your child emulating you as well. Little Bun in diapers, used to pick up a book and pretend to ‘read’ it when he was 10 months old, and as he got older, he was more and more interested in learning how to read with a real sense of curiousity and urgency because he saw both of us engrossed in our books.

I’d even ask him: Please, I want to read my book for half an hour to take a break.

Now, sometimes when I am out and I come back home, he tells me: Mommy! I took that book we didn’t read and I sat there and read it to myself in my head!!!

He is so proud of being able to do this very ‘adult’ behaviour he has seen me model, and it makes me even more determined (NO PRESSURE AMIRITE), to be a strong, hardworking role model for him.

When they’re young, you are their models, to set the base / foundation. As they get older, friends and older friend-like role models (uncles, older cousins) will be who they will listen to more than you.

We don’t complain about basic adult tasks

I remember a friend in high school telling me as I sat there with my tax paperwork spread out over the table, that the only thing she knew about taxes were that her parents would groan and cry each time it was tax season, that it looked difficult and really tough to complete.

She said she never wanted to ever do her taxes, and it seemed like a real chore.

I didn’t say anything because I didn’t have the knowledge of what I have today, but today, I would have told her: If I am 16 and doing my own taxes, it can’t be that difficult.

It just takes time to learn, be organized, read every single line item and check for all the credits you could be eligible for.

Of course, I didn’t know anything about the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) at that time, if not you can bet I would have been saving my money into it 100%, knowing what I do today.

My colleagues (mostly male), who have children, also tell me things like:

I don’t want my children to have to work this hard for anything. I don’t want to have my children go through this, I want to make their lives as easy as I can.

..and again, I didn’t know what I do now, with my own child, but it is a real disservice to your child to say and do that.

Teach them what reality really means

Life has its ups and downs. Life is not always easy. You can’t shield anyone from that, not even with money.

You’re going to get rejected from jobs, friends, lovers, people, communities..

You are going to face adversity, and need to learn how to do your own laundry or manage your money.

To basically give them a comfortable life by avoiding the difficult topics early on, is going to handicap them for the future as they will not be able to do basic adult tasks like make a meal, do their laundry, or manage their money.

These things aren’t learned by osmosis, or innate – they are human-constructed tasks that have a value, and they won’t learn it unless someone tells them or teaches them!! They have to experience it, and be taught, and to fall down, make mistakes, and pick themselves back up. This is how you build resilience and self-reliance in a child.

Children need to learn how to cope with loss, disappointment, difficulty, adversity and to be persistent enough to come out on top in the long run, because the path to success is not a straight line, it is a whirly-loop-de-loop that seems to be taking seven steps back for every three you advance forward, but once in a while, you leap forward with persistence.

It is also naive to think that if you work yourself to the bone and make/save a lot of money, you can give your children the best life possible and they will NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY.

They will worry about money, even if you give them a whole bank load of it because if you don’t teach them how to manage it, how will they know how to conserve it, grow it, and save it? You need to teach them wealth-building habits, values, and give them a framework by which they can accept your fortune, and then … not squander it by going out and buying an expensive car and blowing it all within 1-5 years because they had all of this money but suddenly, it’s all gone.

To teach them how to manage it, means giving them a budget, showing them basic principles of saving, investing, etc, and going from there; not giving them everything they ask for at any time they ask for it.

I am the opposite. I want my son to work hard. REALLY HARD. I want him to learn the value of the dollar he is earning, and not to just receive it as a handout. He’ll be getting one of those dirty / hardworking minimum wage job as soon as he is legally able to work, we will go through the paystub together, I will explain about retirement, savings, compounding interest, etc, and make him read money books.

I want him to understand that his education was paid for mostly because we started saving early for him, and for him to appreciate that enough to implement that into his own life, and learn how to care for his own money as well.

This is the education I wish I had received, and as he gets older he will be thankful I cared enough to drill it into his brain and they say by 40, a person’s money habits will already be established. That sounds about right, although I’d say even by 30, I had decent money habits, I just needed to learn / be guided into something before I latched on eagerly for my own learning purposes.

What say you?


  • steveark

    Take it from your oldest fan, you are a wonderful mother. You may not have a lot of friends with grown kids since you are young yourself, but I’ve seen the stark difference in outcomes between kids raised as I was, and as you plan to raise yours, and kids that were shielded and sheltered from all the hard stuff that makes up life. Those kids often just can’t transition to adulthood successfully because the harshness of no longer being special is such a shock. And kids who have no concept of how to handle money, because they had a fountain of it available their whole lives, they inevitably have serious money problems and have to be bailed out by the bank of mom and dad. One of my daughters told me once, as a young adult, that she was raised poorer than most of her friends even though we had more money than any of them. And she meant it as a compliment, I think.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I aim to do exactly as you have, with a few minor tweaks of course. We are definitely not as frugal or as self-sufficient as you and your wife are, but I am heartened when I hear stories about how your mother raised you, and how it is similar to what I am doing! Makes me feel like I am on the right track.

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