Every parent wants to prepare their child for the real world. Whether you’re teaching them how to deal with conflict or how to be more independent, these lessons can stick with them throughout their lives. But although you do your best to train them, you might make a common mistake.
Some parents drop the ball when it comes to teaching their kids good money habits. This isn’t because they don’t care about their children’s financial future, but rather because they lack the proper understanding of money management.
You can’t teach what you don’t know. But since children usually imitate the behaviors of their parents, it’s important that you increase your knowledge, so you can then pass this knowledge to your kids. If not, they might grow up never fully understanding the right and wrong ways to manage their money.
So, what bad habits are you potentially teaching your kids?
1. Arguing solves money problems
When you have money problems with your spouse, how do you handle these issues? Do you yell, scream and blame each other for the financial mess? Or do you sit and talk calmly about these issues?
Even if your children aren’t visibly present during heated money discussions, they might hear you argue from another room or pick up on the tension. This sends a bad message and your children might grow up thinking this is the way to handle their money problems.
Understandably, tensions can run high when you’re cash-strapped. But if you make a practice of waiting until you calm down to discuss money issues, and if you resolve to never argue about money in front of the kids, they’ll learn an effective and healthy way to deal with money disputes.
2. You don’t have to save money
If you never save your money, your children may grow up and downplay the importance of building their cash reserve.
Saving money for a rainy day is imperative to your financial health. There are times when you won’t have enough cash for an expense. If you don’t have a savings account, you might have to rob Peter to pay Paul, or use a credit card and get into debt. However, you can avoid both of these scenarios by establishing a savings routine. And while you’re improving your savings habit, get your children into a routine of saving their money.
Whether they have a piggy bank or a bank account, make sure your children save a portion of their allowances or gift money.
3. You can buy now, and pay later
Most people don’t have cash to pay outright for a house or car, so they get a loan. But while some debt might be unavoidable, children shouldn’t grow up thinking credit cards are the secret to getting whatever they want, whenever they want it.
If you’re always whipping out a credit card and buying things you can’t afford, your kids may think this is acceptable and mimic your behavior. And unfortunately, this can result in your kids accumulating massive debt before they even graduate college.
This doesn’t mean you should never use a credit card. Just make sure you teach your children the right and wrong ways to manage credit. Stress the importance of only getting one or two credit cards and only charging what they can afford to pay off.
4. You have to keep up with others
Children are intuitive and smart. So they notice when you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses. Do you constantly talk about purchases made by other people? Do you buy what your friends have to keep up or remain a step ahead of them. Whether you want to realize it or not, your kids can pick up on this. And unfortunately, they might grow up and think they have to own what other’s have — no matter the cost.
This can give birth to their competitive side. And once they’re older, they might get into debt or sacrifice their savings account to buy the next biggest and baddest thing.