Money Management Lessons From My Son

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I consider myself fairly sophisticated about money management and how important it is to teach our children financial responsibility. But it took a conversation with my frustrated nine year-old to open my eyes to two-key elements I had been overlooking. And what a difference they can make to a kid’s understanding of handling money.

Here’s what happened and what I learned.

Normally, my kids take a packed lunch to summer day camp. One day, near the end of camp season, the boys at the camp decided to all buy lunch together. I gave my nine year-old some money for lunch for him and his brother. When I picked them up, I asked my nine year-old how much he’d spent and for the change. Apparently, I gave him the sense that I thought he wasn’t keeping track of things the way he should have. His response is what finally woke me up to two important aspects of teaching kids about money management.

My son’s response?

“Why are you being so hard on me about this? Instead of just talking about money, why don’t you explain it and let me have a wallet so I can actually learn about money?”

My response?

To realize that I needed to think about my approach to teaching money management with my children. Here are the two lessons that stood out.

  • At some point, learning needs to become experiential rather than just theory and talk. My son was right. We talk about money. I’ve talked about saving and spending. Both boys have savings jars where they put money toward a specific goal, such as buying a new baseball glove or giving to a charity of their choice. But for every day items, such as the lunch at day camp, I still control the money. I give it out. I request an accounting. Or I pay for something and it’s done. I had only gone so far in teaching them about money. But teaching a child how to truly manage money on a basic day-to-day level at some point requires that the child actually manage money. And even perhaps make some mistakes along the way as he or she learns in real world situations.
  • The second point I learned from my son’s reaction to the lunch money event was that every child develops at his or her own pace. In my mind, I had assumed my son wouldn’t be ready to handle money until he was at least twelve or thirteen. His frustration showed me he might be ready now, certainly to a greater extent than I had thus far acknowledged. It is still possible that I am right and he isn’t ready yet. But the only way we’ll both find out is if he is given the chance.

These are the life lessons that we, as parents, teach and learn from our children. They are important and they are part of the legacy we give to our children. I made a note of this day camp lunch event and the solution – which is to set up a practical real-life money management responsibility for my son – as a reminder to myself of how I need to be flexible as a parent and learn from my children as they learn from me. But I also believe that these experiences will be something my son and I will share later in life, probably when he has children of his own and is facing some of these same issues.

It is the value and importance of these life lessons that has helped drive the design and development of LegacyShield. Our lives have become complex. We need a place to organize, save and protect the information that is important in our lives. For me, and for a growing number of others, that place is LegacyShield.

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