Monday, May 5, 2014

Money + Kids

Our journey to financial freedom started with being inspired by a friend of a friend who raved about Dave Ramsey.  We've been on this journey for a couple years now, and I feel like we've finally developed (or changed) many of our bad habits into good ones.  I've been reading through Dave's book,  The Complete Guide to Money, this past week, and realized that we haven't really been at all intentional about teaching our children about money.  Our children do have piggy banks, and we encourage them to save everything.  

After reading from Dave's book, I realized that we had been placing a huge emphasis on saving, and not enough on spending or giving.  I don't want our children to fear spending their money, or to feel as though there is something "bad" about spending or giving away their money.  We want them to develop good, healthy, balanced habits concerning money.  So the other day, we let our girls pull some money out of their piggy banks for Happy Hour Frappucinos at Starbucks.  

The girls each took turns ordering and paying for their Frappucinos, and then we all sat together and enjoyed them.  We then went to Costco for a few things. The girls were really hoping to find something to buy with their money, but were disappointed when everything at Costco was a bit too expensive for them (you and me both, girls).  As we neared checkout, Ellie expressed her irritation with Tri Tip for dinner (what?).  She wondered if she could buy a pizza from the food court.  This was perfect!  It gave her a chance to not only spend some of her money, but also a chance to solve her dinner problem by "giving" to her family in the form of buying pizza.  She pulled out $10 cash from her cute little purse and handed it over for a pepperoni pizza.  

This is when I realized how poorly we had been teaching our children about money.  It was quite sad, actually.  The way she was talking indicated that she felt as though what she were doing (spending money) was wrong.  Things like, "it's ok that I'm wasting some money, I have more at home."  We quickly explained how it was most definitely NOT a waste of her money, and what a sweet and thoughtful gesture it was of her to buy her family a pizza for dinner.  And with that, she began smiling and giggling and jumping around and saying how "happy" her heart was, and how fun it was to spend her money, and how excited she was that we could eat pizza instead of Tri Tip for dinner, and how big and grown up she felt.  In fact, she didn't stop talking about her excitement for buying a pizza for dinner for us the entire night.  She even erased "Tri Tip" off the menu board and wrote in "Pizza" when we got home.  Leftovers meant she provided lunch for the family the next day, too, which gave her even more opportunity to ask us, "aren't you proud of me that I bought this pizza?!?"

This experience was so good for both Ellie and for us.  Obviously, our approach to teaching our children about money needs a big overhaul.  This reminded me about how fun spending money can be, especially after you've been saving for a while!  I want my kids to develop healthy money habits long before they are ready to leave the house.  This includes healthy habits with spending, saving, and giving.  I have no idea what this will look like yet, but letting our girls spend some of their money this week was a good start.  

I'm curious...what do you do to teach your kids about money?  How has it changed over the years as they have grown?

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