This is a topic that has been on our hearts and our minds. We want to help you understand where we are coming from which might be difficult without really knowing us outside of our site. We hope you see that we attempt to be as transparent as possible, even with a screen between us and you. However we also know that when you can’t hear our voices, when you can’t see our body language, and when you can’t read our facial expressions – it might be hard to understand our heartfelt and sincere thoughts when we share anything – even a quick tip, a DIY project, or recipe – but even more so on articles like this.
But see, our relationships with each other, our children and our friends are so very important to us. We try to be intentional and genuine in each area of life with those we come in contact with. And most importantly we try to be even more so with our children.
Our children are entrusted into our care. It is our responsibility to raise them and teach them wise money skills and a healthy view of money. So we believe that we not only should be transparent with them, but to be good stewards of our children that we must be transparent.
Without teaching them from their early years a healthy view of money, children may grow up with many misconceptions about money. They may learn an unhealthy love of money (which we know is a root of all kinds of evil) or conversely grow up even hating money. Without being taught how to be responsible from a young age they will have a strong tendency to be irresponsible with money as they start to manage their own accounts. Without teaching them financial responsibility they may grown up embittered towards us for not instilling in them wise money-management skills.
Even for us parents that have been foolish with our own money in times past, taking the time to teach them from our mistakes can help them avoid learning from years of their own later on. In sum, we want our children to grow up learning from our mistakes with the hope they won’t have to start their own site one day on how to get out of $100K of consumer debt.
So after all of that, we wanted to share just one tip we use to help our children to avoid some of those pitfalls when they grow up. That is one reason why we are encouraging you to not tell your children that you are broke, or that you can’t afford things. When you say something like this to your children, it implies that you have a “love/hate” relationship with money or that perhaps you are bitter towards what YOU don’t have or not content with what you have. Whether or not you feel that way, children interpret this.
Does that mean then that you give them everything they want and in some sense “show off” your highly responsible money skills in the form of a lavish life no matter the cost, just so you can look like you have it together with your kids?
Of course not!
So how do you tell your children, “no” without adding the excuse that you are broke or can’t afford it.
The answer is simple really. The answer that we use in our home is…”This is not a financial priority right now” or “This hasn’t been budgeted this month” (week, quarter, year, etc. however you budget and however big the expense).
What this demonstrates to your children is that you have a healthy respect of money, that you are a wise money manager, that there are limitations to life and spending money and wise decisions need to be made about where the money will go each month. You are teaching your children that its perfectly fine to live without something. That being content and thankful with the money you have is what we need to be. That we can’t just have anything and everything we feel like. That we need to plan and budget.
When and where to use this term…
- Not with a toddler… at least not very often. Toddlers are not asking for expensive things (generally) but rather the “I wants” of the usual suspects that catch toddlers eyes of candy, toys, etc. With this age, a simple “No” without explanation is all that is needed (this also helps teach simple obedience). They just simply need to learn to live without. It may seem harmless to “give in” on a $1 item, but this is only teaching them bad habits that will not only grow in desire, but in cost. Teach them young to appreciate and be content with what they have.
- It becomes more appropriate as your child gets older. A simple “no” may suffice in many circumstances, but as you try to be a responsible parent and demonstrating responsibility with your money, it is often good to tell your child, “no because this purchase is not a priority,” or “it has not been calculated into this month’s budget, etc.”
- It is most appropriate with older children and teens. They understand what you are saying, they see your responsibility, and it helps demonstrate to them a healthy money environment – one that they will hopefully want to adopt as they start to manage their own financial affairs in the near future.
With this, we encourage you and your children to discuss money matters all along the way. To discuss the budget, to discuss the goals, to discuss reckless spending, to discuss ways the family can improve on meeting financial goals. Obviously (or so we hope you see from what we just mentioned) with age-specific boundaries on what you share.
We involved our children with our debt payoff. They saw our family’s goals. They understood what we were working for. They understood why our spending was very calculated as our priority at that time was to pay off our debts. We did not involve them in the nitty-gritty, ugly, stressful details – that is too much for children to handle. However, we have discussed with our children why you should not go into debt for most everything, how you should live within your means and even shared how the burdens were lifted when we paid our final debts.
Since becoming debt-free, we still decide on our financial priorities and budget as a family. We’ve never told our kids “we’re broke,” or “we can’t afford this,” etc.
What we have shared with our children is “this is our budget, and we’re going to stick to it.” These are the things we have made priorities and perhaps we can discuss their requests at our next family meeting.
This gives the really big money purchases and even the small ones, a reasonable and understandable excuse instead of your children thinking you are irresponsible, that you can’t give them as much as “so and so” has, or even that you’re being mean or unreasonable. And hopefully it helps them to start understanding that we need to be wise with our limited resources and that godliness with contentment is great gain.