Tonight, we’re discussing some household budget items… electric, groceries, dining, movie rentals, cable tv and more. When I say ‘we’, I mean me and my kids. No, I’m not excluding my spouse, I don’t have one. I know my kids are young, but they need to understand the value of a dollar. I want them to grow up knowing how to manage money well.
My kids both have an understanding of how money works. They understood credit cards and interest charges at 5 years old. I never thought this was anything out of the ordinary until my youngest started lecturing my sister for using a credit card at Target… when he was 7. I thought maybe I should tone it down a bit, but I chose not to. My boys are 10 and 11 now, and we talk about the family budget and expenses. They know how much our house payment is, we talk about the utility bills and the grocery expenses. We have a reward program of ice cream for low utility bills.
My kids don’t know my salary (Joe’s feminine side is not being able to keep a secret), nor do they know all of the details, but we do discuss the ‘controllables’. I see a lot of value in them knowing our budget and knowing how well we’re maintaining it. If I expect them to understand why they need to turn off the lights when they’re not in a room, I need to show them the consequences of leaving them on.
I let them help with decisions about how we use our money, everything from entertainment to groceries. This works well, as it’s a rare occasion that they will ask me to buy them anything without a lot of thought going into it first.
Communicating money issues, budgets and household expenses to young kids may seem odd to some people, but how else will they learn? I wish someone had taught me these things. My kids will either be well adjusted and manage money well or they’ll need a lot of therapy from my lessons. Oh, and if you talk to my kids, I’ll apologize in advance for any money lectures you may get from them. 😉