Money doesn’t have to be difficult, so why do we make it that way?
When you really boil good money management down to the basics, it’s all about four things: working, giving, saving and spending. That’s it. So when you teach young kids about money, all you really need to do is show them a simple version of what you are (hopefully) doing already. These are the four principles of money that my parents taught me and that my dad and I write about in our new book, Smart Money Smart Kids.
Here’s a truth that applies to both adults and children: The most powerful wealth-building tool you have is your income. When you teach your kids the value of work, you set them up to succeed later in life.
What does work look like for an eight-year-old? My parents paid me a commission, not an allowance. In other words, I got paid to work, not to breathe! When I completed chores around the house, like feeding the dog, taking out the trash, or helping clean the dishes, then I earned a commission. Use the same approach, and you’ll teach your kids discipline and work ethic.
This is what it’s all about. The whole point of building wealth is to change your family’s future and to give like crazy. Sit down with your kids and let them pick a charity. Instead of giving them a dollar in the parking lot at church, let them use their own money to tithe. When it’s their own, they’ll really feel the impact of giving. Then, follow up and show them how the money they gave helped a specific person or organization. To win with money, you have to make giving a part of your life!
This is the easy one, right? Who doesn’t know how to spend?
And that’s the problem. Spending is too easy for most of us. And unless you teach your kids healthy ways to spend, they’ll fall right into that trap. As soon as they get a $10 bill, they’ll go out and buy something they’ve forgotten about by this time next month. It’s all about priorities. It’s fine to love spending as long as you teach your kids the importance of the other principles too.
Saving seems so boring, I know. But it’s one of the most important things you can teach your child. If your son heads off to college without understanding what it really means to save, he’s probably going to graduate with a load of debt—or start digging a debt hole once he starts working. Start talking to your kids about saving early. Help them see their money as it grows by using a clear jar or piggy bank. Then, once they are old enough, open a basic savings account. Continue reinforcing these four principles as your kids get older. Don’t just talk about them once and leave it at that.
If you’ll talk about money early and often with your kids, you’ll be amazed by the impact this will have on their lives as they grow into adults.
Thanks for reading!
Rachel Cruze / @rachelcruze