Don’t Let Your Kids Catch You Making These Money Mistakes
When it comes to teaching kids positive financial habits, it’s important for parents to practice what they preach. If you talk about the benefits of frugality but your kids see you spending frivolously, which example do you think they’re going to emulate? Because actions speak louder than words, you don’t want to let your kids catch you making these money mistakes:
Using Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases
You want to teach your children about the responsible use of credit long before they apply for their first credit card. If they see you using credit cards to pay for everyday expenses such as groceries, gas, or take-out, they’ll get the idea that credit cards are meant to make up for a cash shortfall. What they won’t understand is how quickly those small purchases can add up and spiral into long-term debt. Using a debit card (once you’ve explained the difference between debit and credit) or cash to pay for everyday purchases sets a good example.
Not Following a Budget
Your kids will pick up on it if you’re always unsure of how much money you have in your account or whether or not you can cover all the bills for the month. That kind of financial stress affects the whole family — even if you try to keep quiet about it. But planning and following a budget can help to eliminate some of that uncertainty and make you see how much money you have coming in, how much is going out and exactly where it’s going. Use our Monthly Expenses Calculator to help you get started. Not following a budget is one of the most common money mistakes — whether you have children or not.
Not Saving for Emergencies
If you have kids, you know how unpredictable life can be. Emergency expenses are going to happen. And if you’re not ready for them, kids will take note. When planning the family budget, be sure to start setting aside money in a dedicated emergency fund. This is a liquid savings account that you continue to build month-to-month and only use for true emergencies, such as a major car or home repair or an unexpected medical expense. Don’t make it an afterthought. Pay yourself first so you and your family have peace of mind.
Not Talking Openly About Money
If money becomes a taboo subject that’s only discussed in whispers (or shouts), kids will think money matters are too private and/or scary to talk about openly. Have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids about financial topics; they don’t always have to be directly related to the family finances. You can talk about how much money the latest Marvel blockbuster made, the price of gas and groceries or how much they think they need to save for college. As long as you talk about money and financial topics in an open, realistic way, they will learn the topic isn’t something to shy away from.
Spoiling Your Children
We know you love your kids and want nothing more than to see them happy and fulfilled. Which is why it can be easy to fall back on indulging their every whim, even if you’re not really in a financial position to do so. This is one of the most common money mistakes parents make. The truth is, not spoiling your kids helps to teach important financial lessons. And it helps them learn to value and take care of the special things you are able to provide.