There’s a lot of noise about the lack of financial education for children, but so far not enough action. The school curriculum has come under fire for not giving kids the knowledge they need to be able to manage money in the real world.
I’m a huge advocate for financial education in schools. It’s a crucial step in making sure kids grow into adults that are able to understand the financial world. However, we’re missing something else; teaching children to have the right attitude towards money.
As with many things in life, knowledge cannot make up for the wrong attitude towards money. Schools can try to cultivate the right attitude towards money and debt, but families are in the best position to do this. Your children see how you handle money on a day to day basis, and like it or not, it makes a big impression.
Raising financially responsible kids
There’s not a single thing that makes a child grow into an adult that’s good with money. At least, I can’t pinpoint something specific from my childhood. I wrote about fear of missing out and opportunity cost decisions that my dad gave me the opportunity to make.
There was also a feeling that money was hard to gain and easy to lose, a resource that should not be wasted. This helped cultivate a positive relationship with money when I was younger. Here are some of the sayings (and statements) I remember my parents and grandparents using and living by as I was growing up.
It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend
As I got older, I’d be cheekier and retort “It’s a little bit what you earn”. My dad wanted to instill in me that if you choose to do use all your money up doing things and buying things, you’ll have no money left, no matter the amount that you earned the first place.
A fool and their money are soon parted
This is a favourite phrase of my dad’s, especially when someone (including me) had spend money on something he thought was a waste. When aimed at me, it made me question the way I’d chosen to spend money from the point I was able to start making decisions
You’ll need your money when you’re older
This was a phrase from Nana. She’d give us a couple of pounds pocket money when she saw us, and it would often be accompanied by this phrase. It helped fix the idea of my future self at a young age. Most of that pocket money went straight into my savings account and was part of the deposit when I bought my house (thanks Nana!)
Look after the pennies, and the pounds look after themselves
I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone says this to me now. For some reason, it was accompanied by a wag of the finger when said by my Dad. It’s a good reminder that small amounts of money that may seem insignificant add up to large amounts of money when pooled together. It’s the reason I don’t like to buy bottles of water or ad hoc bags of crisps when I’m out.
Whatever you do, never, ever get in debt
This was only said to me only once and at an age when I thought I knew it all. My grandad leaned forward in his chair to deliver this sage advice in an ominous tone. This cheeky teen couldn’t help but reply “what about a mortgage”. He updated the advice. “Other than a mortgage, never, ever get into debt.”
Houses are expensive
This becomes so obvious when you have a house, but it isn’t when you’re a child. You have no concept of how much your parents earn compared to the cost of your family’s lifestyle. Why and how could houses be particularly expensive when everyone lives in one? This regular warning discouraged me from spending pocket money on useless tat, and paying it into my savings account instead.
Money doesn’t grow on trees and I’m not made of money
Although I never heard my parents worry or argue about money (and I know now that money was very tight for a long time) it has always been clear that there are limits to money, that it has to be earned, and we can’t have everything we want. The fact that our money was finite contributed to my fear of missing out on something better.
Money can’t buy happiness… but it sure does help
We all know that money can’t buy happiness. Most of us have probably experienced the feeling of emptiness after a session of retail therapy. But a lack of money that leads to debt can cause a lot of unhappiness and stress. Money also gives peace of mind, greater freedom and a greater capacity to be generous, all of which lay the foundations for happiness.
Actions speak louder than words
It’s not enough to simply share these pearls of wisdom with your children, they need to see you practice what you preach too. Which means saving up for the things you want, instead of getting into debt, and not scooping a few impulse purchases onto the conveyor belt when you do your shopping.
My Christmas gifts were probably smaller than most, if not all, of my friends. How ironic that that is the best gift that I could have been given.
What money sayings do your family use and does it influence how you spend your money?