Teaching Kids about Money

Today, Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com is going to contribute with an article about things we can teach our kids about life and money. He asks that you check his best credit card offers page if you are looking for a new card

I honestly think teaching kids about money this is the most overlooked thing that most parents do not teach. Instead, kids learn from our behavior and how we treat money. But I really think the subject of how to manage money must be taught.

I have three kids and teaching them stuff is sure tough. But as a parent, I would like to instill good habits (including money habits). Here are some of the things I think we can do to teach them about various aspects of life that will affect their outlook about hard work and money.

Reward Hard Work hard and Not Just Results – Some kids are talented at certain things like math or baseball. Very often (in their early ages), they excel in school or sports without much effort because of talent. But very often, because of the talent, they do not develop the habit of working hard (because they do not have to). But as they grow older, they are going to face obstacles. If they do not learn the value of hard work and overcoming difficulties, they will hit the brick wall often. Teaching them the value of hard work (even if they are talented) is so important.

What has this got to do with money?  Well, I think delayed gratification is one of the hardest thing to teach, so we try to praise our kids when they achieved something due to hard work. We tell them that they accomplished it because they worked at it and we explain that to be able to afford expensive things, they have to study hard, work hard and earn their own money!

Going to Shop Does Not Mean You Have to Shop! – There are various ways to go about doing it. One way is simply to explain concepts as they come along. For example, initially, my kids always wanted to buy stuff when they go to Toys R Us or anywhere else. To put a stop to this nonsense, we had to explain that just because we went to a shop does not mean we have to buy anything. We could be just looking, doing some research or simply buying a gift for someone else.

Ask Them What Happened To Stuff They Bought A While Ago – Another thing that we like to bring up to our kids when they want to buy something on impulse is to remind them of something they bought in the past and whether they are now still excited over it and playing with it. Chances are that they will say no! We found that this was a very effective way to make them realize that they should think twice before buying anything.

Teach Kids to Compare Price – Here is another technique we use: When we go grocery shopping, Mrs Credit Card asks the kids to compare prices of the cheapest cereals. We explain to them that even though they love a particular one, there are times when it is not the best time to buy it. They should only buy it if it is on sale. We also ask them to compare the price relative to the weight of the product to see which gives greater value for money. After a while, they catch on and only buy cereal that is on sale!

Make Them Work – I see lots of kids organizing lemonade stands outside their houses during summer. It could be to draw crowds for a garage sale or to raise money for a fundraiser. I think this is such a great thing as they can learn so many things just from selling lemonade. They can learn the the concept of selling things for a profit.

Another common task kids or teens take is to work to earn some money. It could be as simple as baby sitting, walking your neighbors dog or working at the ice-cream shop. Making them realize that they need to earn before they can spend is a good lesson.

Slowly Give Them More Responsibilities – As kids grow older, I believe in giving them more responsibility. It could be making the oldest kid look after their younger siblings. Or giving them tasks like clearing the trash, doing the dishes, etc. I know of some parents who give their teens prepaid credit cards to start teaching them about using “credit” (though it is not technically credit). Maybe that is a bad idea as you want them to know to manage a student credit card when they are old enough to get one.

Selling Things For Fund Raisers – One of the things that I admire about the Boys Scouts is that they are always doing fundraisers for their scouting trips and events (no money, no outings). It teaches them “cold calling” or more likely, approaching Dad and Mom’s friends to sell things like coffee beans and Christmas wreaths!

Teach Them Not To Waste Stuff – Another thing I like to emphasize to kids is not to waste stuff. Whether it is the water when they brush their teeth or making sure they do not waste food, we are pretty particular about this. I think this is a good mindset to instill in our kids.

Performance Matters More Than How Good Your Look – I find that kids like to buy fancy stuff and beyond a certain age, they are conscious about brands. I’ve mentioned this before, but when my kids first played baseball and soccer, they keep bugging me to get them the fancy gear. I had to keep telling my kids that how you perform matters more than your gear. After a couple of years of playing, I think they have finally come to realize this and no longer bug me about things.

It’s a Never-Ending Process – Teaching your kids about money and other things that are important is a never-ending process. But you have to do it when they are young because once they grow older, they tend not to listen to their parents anymore and are more likely to be influenced by peers.

Update:  This post has been included in the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

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Save Your Family


I don’t attach much importance to dreams.  They are just there to make sleepy-time less boring. Last night, I had a dream where I spent most of my time trying to prepare my wife to run our finances before telling my son that I wouldn’t be around to watch him grow up.    That’s an unpleasant thought to wake up with.  Lying there, trying to digest this dream, I started thinking about the transition from “I deal with the bills” to “I’m not there to deal with it”.   We aren’t prepared for that transition.   Last year, we started putting together our “In case of death” file, but that project fell short.    The highest priorities are done.   We have wills and health directives, but how would my wife pay the bills?  Everything is electronic.  Does she know how to log in to the bank’s billpay system?    Which bills are only in my name, and will go away if I die?   Is there a list of our life insurance policies?

I checked the incomplete file that contains this information.   It hasn’t been updated since September.  It’s time to get that finished.  Procrastinating is inappropriate and denial is futile.   Here’s a news flash: You are going to die. Hopefully, it won’t happen soon, but it will happen.  Is your family prepared for that?

The questions are  “What do I need?” and “What do I have?”

First and foremost, you need a will.  If you have children and do not have a will, take a moment–right now– to slap yourself.   A judge is not the best person to determine where your children should go if you die. The rest of it is minor, if you’re married.   Let your next-of-kin, your spouse keep it.  I don’t care.   Just take care of your kids! Set up a trust to pay for the care of your children.   Their new guardians will appreciate it.  How hard is it to set up?   I use Quicken Willmaker and have been very pleased.  Of course, the true test is in probate court, and I won’t be there for it.   If you are more comfortable getting an attorney, then do so. I’ve done it each way.    You can cut some costs by using Willmaker, then taking it to an attorney for review.

It’s a sad fact that often, before you die, you spend some time dying.  Do you have a health care directive?   Does your family know, in writing, if and when you want the plug pulled? Who gets to make that decision?   Have you set up a medical power of attorney, so someone can make medical decisions on your behalf if you aren’t able?  Do you want, and if so, do you have a Do-Not-Resuscitate order?  Willmaker will handle all of this, too.

What’s going to happen to your bank accounts?  I’m personally a fan of keeping both of our names on all of our accounts.   I share my life and my heart, I’d better be able to trust her with our money. If that’s not an option, for whatever reason, fill out the “Payable on Death” information for your accounts, establishing a beneficiary who can get access to your money if you die.   Do you want your spouse to lose the house or the car if you die? Should your kids have to miss meals?  Make sure necessary access to your money exists.

Does anybody know what you have for life insurance? Get a copy of the policy and make sure your spouse and someone else knows what company holds it and how much it is worth.

Now, it’s time to make some lists.   You need to gather account numbers and contact information for everything.

  • Bank accounts. List every bank and account you own.  Checking, savings, CDs.
  • Investment accounts. Again, every company, every account.
  • Mortgage and car payment information.
  • Life insurance. Get your policy numbers, contact information, beneficiaries, and amount of coverage all in one place.
  • Credit card accounts. Every card, every company.    If it’s just your name on the account, your spouse will need to send certified death certificates to stop collections.  Otherwise, she’ll need to pay the bills.
  • Utilities.  Get the account number for the electric bill, the gas bill, water/sewer/garbage, cable and phones.
  • Other bills. These include car/home insurance, Netflix, memberships and anything else you pay.
  • I’ve included the account information for my web host, registrars and websites. Some of it is salable, some of it is income-generating.
  • Car titles. Put the actual titles in the pile of lists.
  • Property deeds. Keep these here, too.

Non-financial information to list:

  • Online accounts. Any financial sites that would be useful, or any community sites you would like to have informed about your death.  Your online presence is a part of who you are.
  • Email accounts. Will your survivors need to interact with anybody potentially contacting you?   They will need your username and password, or most big providers won’t let them in.
  • Social media. How many networks do you participate in?  Do you want to disappear, or should all of your Facebook friends know your dead?
  • Blogs. Do you have a blog that needs an announcement?   Does it generate income?  Could it be sold?
  • Contact list. Who else needs to be informed of your demise?  Don’t make your loved ones hunt for the information.

Now, take all of this information and put it in a nice, fat envelope and lock it in the fireproof safe you have bolted to the floor.  Make a copy and give it to someone you trust absolutely.   Make sure someone knows the combination to the safe or where to find the key.

Your loved ones will appreciate it.

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Delayed Gratification

I work daily to raise my kids to be more financially responsible than I have been.  One of the most difficult pieces has been to explain the benefits of delayed gratification to my children. It’s hard enough, as an adult, to take delayed gratification to heart.  For a child?   It seems to be almost impossible.

My son wants an XBox 360 Elite.   Good for him.  He wants to renegotiate the terms of his allowance to get it faster.  Currently, every other time he gets an allowance paid out, it goes into his bank account, to be mostly untouched.  The other times he can do as he pleases with his money.   We are enforcing a 50% long term savings plan. Now, with a medium-term goal in mind, he wants to keep all of his money, and only put gift money into the bank account.

Should we let him tap his bank account for a shiny new bauble?  It’s been building for a while, so it’s delayed, right?   I don’t think that would accomplish much. Like any other 10-year-old, his interests change often.

Should we let him change the terms of our agreement, speeding a medium-term goal at the expense of his long-term savings?  My wife and I haven’t had a chance to discuss this, but my initial reaction is not to allow it.   His savings has the potential to turn into a decent car in a few years, if he wants.  That would be a car he knows he earned.

Last week, when we were at the store, he asked if he could borrow some money to buy a game.   I don’t expect him to carry his money around everywhere, so I would have allowed it, if he would have had the money at home.   He didn’t.   His plan was to pay me what he did have as soon as we got home, then work his butt off for a few days to earn enough extra to pay it back.   I won’t be a credit agency for my kids, so I said no.  He was disappointed, but, by the time he had earned the money, he no longer wanted the game.   I consider that a win, but I don’t know that he learned any lesson other than “Dad’s a jerk.”

Someday, when his life launch is smooth due to a lack of debt-dependence, he’ll look back on these lessons and smile.

I hope.


Is Your Budget Doing More Harm Than Good?

Do you stress over your money?

Is your spouse under the impression that you are constantly fighting over money?

Are you constantly fighting over money?

Have you completely eliminated your quality of life?

Do you spend hours each week analyzing where your money has gone?

A total budget can have a negative effect on the other parts of your life. If your spouse isn’t 100% on board, maybe he/she needs some “blow money” that doesn’t need to be tracked.  If you aren’t spending enough time with your children because you are tracking expenses and adjusting your budget every day, you need to automate something, or at least loosen your standards.  Maybe tracking every penny isn’t the right method of budgeting for you.

Don’t let the perfect budget destroy the rest of your life. If money is still a fight, you’re going to need to compromise on something, now, or you’ll end up compromising with the help of a divorce attorney.

Don’t forget, you are living now, not in the future.   Plan for the future, but live in the present.  There is a balance there, somewhere. Find it, or you and your loved ones won’t be happy.

Update:  This post has been included in the Money Hacks Carnival.