What You MUST Teach Your Kids About Money

While growing up I remember parents always complaining about the schools not teaching children how to balance a checkbook. While it's a very different world, we still share a similar problem. Our children have no idea how to handle money well.

Whether the poor habits handed down from parents or the rat race job mentality pushed onto us by society, handling and generating money is not a skill mastered by this generation.

But we can change this for our children. And for ourselves. My daughter has a chance of starting life without ridiculous college debt, a Nordstrom credit card and the lack of skills to make money on her own. As parents (or soon to be), we clearly understand good habits are taught by example. This makes all business transactions with vendors, banks, business partners and even appropriate world news, teachable moments at a young age.

According to a recent study by the University of Cambridge, money habits are formed by age seven.

3 Money Habits We Must Teach Our Children:

#3) Entrepreneurship – 91% of people are employees not because they missed the “entrepreneur gene”, but because our education system doesn't teach students to be self-employed. In the world of finance, the most effective tool you have is encouraging your children's ideas. You might even consider asking them about their experience with a business: the quality, the environment, and the employees.

Furthermore, if your child enjoys something, encourage them to find ways to make an income with it. It's these simple moments and skills that give children the risk threshold and permission to pursue entrepreneurship. Let them fail and learn in their youth, and you will only see them succeed faster in the years approaching adulthood.

#2) Saving Is Non Negotiable – Our desire for quick, fast, and convenient is the cause for our debt and enslavement to lenders. We have no patience. We have no discipline. We must train our children not to rely on instant gratification and move toward planning and the endurance of earning money to buy items in full. Children who save for toys or observe their coins stacking in a piggy bank (or savings account) will learn the value in not spending their money so easily.

#1) Investing Doesn't Have To Be Complex – The word “investing” sounds like something I need to read a book about before I participate. But we make investments all the time. The homes we buy, the businesses we start, the banks we use, and sure… the stocks we pick. But let your child share in the experience. Even as a toddler, allow your child watch how you communicate in business transactions and teach them (to the best of your ability) why you made the decisions you did.

As your children grow older, teach them about buying low and selling high and the value in making an honorable deal. Allow them to watch stocks of companies your family may support and maybe even give them an allowance toward some small investments.

Most Importantly
Teach your children to produce more than they consume and spend less than they earn. Reinforce that money is the means, not the end. We work to live, not live to work. Family, love, travel, freedom, health, and memories are the real wealth in this life.

What do you wish your parents taught you about money? What else would you teach your kids?

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20 Responses

  1. Really good thoughts here that I will remember and keep in mind for myself and for when we start a family! These were things that were not instilled in me during my childhood. I watched my parents struggle financially, work jobs they hated, and ultimately declare bankruptcy. When I became an adult, I had very twisted ideas of how to handle money if I had ideas at all. The only thing that I would add to your list would be teaching our children to tithe. God can do more with the 10% than we can with the 100% and I’ve learned that this is the root of how I look at, treat, and value money. Maybe if we had more selfless givers in the world and more cheerful tithers in the Body we would have a more creative and less consuming culture. Thanks for the article!

    1. Hannah,
      Your statements are powerful and dead on. Thank you. “God can do more with the 10% than we can with the 100%.” Being a selfless giver and more cheerful tither … less consuming culture.

    2. Amen brother! I have always viewed money as a tool from very early childhood, always been a saver, & an extremely generous giver. However, I only started to tithe 10% this year. As a single parent working a “good” job (meaning I can support myself, but not having much left for saving) it was scary at first when God was guiding me through the Holy Spirit to do it. Now I would like to testify that I am teaching my son how to tithe. Thank you for adding this important message. He really can do more than all we could ever imagine & will multiply it.

      Now if I can get him to take action with his ideas for businesses, or ideas to generate money for places he wants to go, we will really be able to make a difference! Not only in his financial future, the future generations of my family’s lineage, but the world. I like to think of things as generational everything I invest in him will improve our family’s future. He is 12, has Asperger’s Syndrome & his ideas/views on things are phenomenal! Ive gotta figure out how to focus his gifts!

  2. Well, we obviously haven’t done a great job with our 17 year old daughter as we got a notice yesterday that her account was $99 overdrawn. So hard as a parent to know where to draw the line as far as bailing them out or making them be accountable. I loved this article and it came at just the right time. We will be sitting down this weekend and going over how to balance a checkbook and how she can better manage her money. Thank you!

  3. This makes alot of sense. My two children are very young but i plan to teach them about money so by the time they go out on their own if they choose to get a job is because they want to and not because they have to. Knowing how to handle money from a early age will give them a better chance at success because they will have options and know how to make a way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dale

  4. I wish my parents taught me about the importance of acquiring assets vs. liabilities. And the different ways to invest my money so that I could make it grow. The only thing they taught me was “don’t spend your money.”

  5. When I was in high school, we actually had a financial studies class (that my parents made me take) and it turned out that I loved it and I am very thankful for it. It taught us about how to make a budget, balance our check books etc. I think that it should be required for kids to take this sometime whether that be in college or in high school! They need these real life skills!

  6. I wish my parents had taught me about entrepreneurship the value of creating your own dream; I tell my children to create their own dream because if they don’t they will end up helping someone obtain their’s.

  7. My husband, Scott, and I have four children. We have always worked for ourselves and intentionally taught our kids using much of these principles. Our oldest is 25 and has been married 3 years. She and her husband, age 26, have no debt other than their mortgage. They own 2 cars and have a very nice home. They bought the house from a man who after undertaking a big remodelling/addition project that he couldn’t afford was about to lose it. Our daughter and son-in-law finished the project themselves adding a second kitchen to the upstairs. They now live downstairs and have three renters upstairs. The rent almost pays the whole mortgage! Our youngest is 16. At age 14 sold bundles of mistletoe before christmas door to door and lemon aid at a busy corner during that summer. At 15 he purchased his first $2000 mountain bike with the money he earned! I’m serious. He earned that much! He is now an avid bike racer with three bikes in the garage that combined are worth about 15,000! The bikes he acquired by buying low selling high and also getting some sponcership help from local bike shop and pros who believe in his ability. I mention the sponcership since he did an awesome job promoting himself which is a entrepreneur type skill he learned from his Dad. I wanted to say all this because I believe intentionally teaching our children money management skills, how to create an income and delayed reward are vitally important and do work. I won’t go into the the other two kids ages 19 and 23. They are making wise choices also but I’ve written a long enough comment. I hope I’ve given you some hope!

    1. Hi K.L, we have a 3 year old daughter and would like some practical advise on how you raised your kids since your parenting and the results in your kids is really inspirational. God bless.

  8. I wish my parents taught me the importance of savings and entrepreneurship. My mother has mostly worked for herself and still does but no ever showed me the benefit of it. Now at 32 I have 2 daughters of my own and I encourage them to follow their dreams. Letting them know you don’t have to deal with the daily 9-5 grind and not be happy. As far as savings I started an account for my girls but I make them responsible for putting some of what they earn in allowance in their accounts.

  9. Money and financial matters were never discussed in my family but I always felt the ‘financial anxiety’ in the house. My first experience with finances was the day when I came home to find out that our house had been foreclosed on and we were moving in 2 days. That experience changed me. I call it financial abuse when parents do not discuss financial matters or at least teach their children how to be financially responsible. We usually take on our family of origin’s ‘money story’ and continue the cycle unless we recognize the story and change our money blueprint. Any one can do this. Thanks for sharing the awesome article.

  10. Money was scarce in my childhood household. That’s apparent to me now, in retrospect as an adult, but I didn’t really feel deprived at the time. Of course those were ‘the good ol’ days’ when kids relied mainly on no-cost fun like building forts in vacant lots and playing wiffle ball. When I try to think of what I wish my parents had taught me about money, nothing big comes to mind. But what I appreciate is that they did teach me that having fun does not equal spending money. 🙂

  11. Good picks.

    When it comes to investing, I’d encourage you to educate your teens about index funds and Roth IRAs. As soon your teen gets that first summer job, open up a Roth IRA, sweeten the pot with some parental matching, and show them how to pick an index fund for low cost, diversified returns over the long, long haul. I cringe when I see people teaching kids to invest in individual stocks. Conceptually, it’s a bit easier and fun to relate to, but gambling on individual stocks is precisely what most people should NOT be doing.

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