As a parent, you’re always teaching lessons to your kids. Often times they’re intentional, where you directly try to impart your wisdom and hope that the message is conveyed and absorbed. Other times, the lessons are learned by their own observations of your behavior and words.
Either way, kids can learn a lot from parents. This includes gaining perspectives on not just life in general, but also on money. There is financial wisdom to be gained at any age, including when young!
I recently had a conversation with my elementary school age daughter that showed that lessons can be learned when younger. Frankly, it was pretty cool!
It happened when we were driving in the car on the way to school. We passed by some houses that were newer and really nice. I’d classify these as “McMansions”. Big homes that seemingly dwarf nearby homes and carry property tax rates in the stratosphere. Anyway, as we drove by, she remarked that it would be cool to live in one of those houses. Then she asked if we could afford one.
I paused for a moment, and then said that those are the types of houses that most people would have to “stretch” to buy. Being a kid, she chuckled and asked what I meant by “stretch”.
My response was to say that stretching to buy a home means that a family spends more than they’re comfortable spending or more than what they probably should spend. They do this to buy a home that they really, really want – even if it’s a step above their price range, I said.
She immediately said: “Why would anyone do that. Wouldn’t that be stressful?” She continued with: “Daddy, did you know that too much stress can cause a heart attack? People that spend too much money on some house they can’t afford could be making stress just for a house!”
When I heard that, I smiled. I never directly told her anything like that before, but somehow she’s picked up enough about money, common sense, and life, that she was able to figure out that one should spend only what you can comfortably afford.
Being someone who enjoys personal finance, I have to admit: I was kind of proud
I’ve written before about emotions and buying a home, how a couple ended up letting emotions get in the way of sound decision-making. Grown-ups make such mistakes, even bright, well-meaning ones. To the extent we can get kids to think clearly and objectively about purchases, we’re helping give them a good foundation on which to handle money later!
My Questions for You
What lessons about money did you learn when younger?
Which ones helped you as you got older?