Money Lessons for Children: What I want to do with Little Bun
I have been thinking a lot about how to introduce the concept of money, finances and reality to Little Bun without shoving too much adulting down his throat.
Where I am scared about all of this and making sure I DO NOT SCREW UP, is that I did not grow up with any money management pearls of wisdom or skills, and I had to figure it all out on my own.
I ended up landing on my feet learning about money in general and clearing $60,000 of debt in 18 months after graduating and starting my career, but I don’t want him to start off without the basics.
So, here are a few of my brain dumped thoughts:
I DO NOT WANT TO LIE TO HIM ABOUT OUR SITUATION
I read a (great) reader Clo’s comment here on this post: Did you know how much your parents made where being lied to as a kid, stressing about adult things like worrying if your parents had enough money and if you were going to make it as a family, sounds painful.
I do NOT want to lie about being poor, and having Little Bun worry about whether or not we were going to lose it all.
We obviously have money and lots of savings for where we are in our lives.
I mean, our house was paid in cash, and together we have more than enough where we are able to not think about any expenditure for the home under $1000. We just spend the money, and tell the other person the half they owe. I do not know many families that are able to do that..
So, with that said, while I do not want to lie to Little Bun about our finances, I also do not want to give him the impression that we are ballers.
I do NOT want him to go to school thinking: My mommy drives a 6-figure luxury car (for sure, his friends are going to comment on this, NO DOUBT, I know how kids work, I grew up with the same experience), we seem to have lots of money to do whatever we want, we must be RICH!
No. We are not “rich”. We are comfortable.
Rich to me means I do not have to work ever again if I did not want to, and can still maintain my lifestyle as-is. That is not the case, ergo, we are not “rich”.
Yet, I don’t want him to worry about us.
So, I am thinking I am going to tell him our average salary as freelancers, INCLUDING the years where we made $0 because we couldn’t work due to the lack of jobs, and to walk him through gross income, taxes taken out by the government, and how much we have left over each month, and where it goes in terms of bills.
I WANT HIM TO GET A TASTE OF REALITY BEFORE IT HITS
There was this great money exercise I read about where once a kid gets their first job, you start introducing the concept of fixed and variable expenses, and give them a taste of reality.
Their income is not 100% theirs. So, I want to highlight this by:
- going through his paystub together with him
- pointing out his gross versus net income
- showing him where the money goes, and explaining why
- showing him the net amount based on the hours he worked
…. and then I’d like him to go through an exercise where he creates a budget.
He chooses where he would think is a nice place to rent, estimates the cost of food (based on some basic budgeting categories and percentages) and then show him how where he is working with the hours and how much he is making, would cover X and Y but not the rest.
Something where we can tie in what he earns today as a minimum wage, part-time worker, versus what real life would cost, and what kind of real life he wants ….
I feel like we go to school, we graduate and then… bam, we have to figure out where to find a reasonably priced and safe place to rent, how much groceries cost when we have never shopped for them before, the fact that utilities, telephone.. all that stuff ADDS UP…
It becomes a reality shock. I don’t want him to be unprepared for that, so I want to be sure he knows that he can buy what he wants, as long as he can afford it.
I WANT HIM TO ENJOY HIS MONEY
I want him to also not be so focused on money that he will take any job he hates that sucks his soul out through his toes, working 100+ hour weeks in a meaningless job, just to be “rich”.
I’d rather he find a balance — a job he likes (not necessarily loves), can do well, and still has time for LIFE.
I want him to enjoy his money.
I want him to spend it on nice things, dinners, and not feel guilty about it.
I want him to see money as what it is — a tool, which is why I am compiling a list of great personal finance books to get him started on once he is ready.
These are books that kids and young adults can read without getting overwhelmed:
…and the rest of my list is here: The Best Personal Finance Books To Read
I want him to work hard and then enjoy the fruits of that labour, and not to stress about money all the time when he CLEARLY HAS ENOUGH. OR has saved enough.