I recently posed a question to my daily blog readers that I ask myself often as a homeschooling parent and teacher: What do I want my kids to know NOW that I wish I had known sooner in life? I thought it was a thought-provoking question, so I decided to answer it here at The Parenting Post. If I could choose one thing that I wish I would have known growing up, I would choose long-term financial planning.
I am blessed to have great parents who spent a lot of time trying to teach us how to be considerate, responsible adults. From walking classes at the modeling school to stock-page discussions after dinner, I left home at 17 feeling complete, ready to take on the world.
It is now evident to me that my parents made it look a little too easy. They always formed a united front when it came to us, and rarely did they have arguments about anything, let alone money. My dad is a wise man who purchased all of our houses and our cars in cash, on a postal supervisor's salary. So I guess I always had this feeling that there was a natural knowledge about financial planning that came to every adult upon reaching the age of 18 — okay, that's still in college. How about age 25? Yeah...25... My cousin was 25 and she was still, uh... Okay, age 30? It was a ridiculous idea, but I believed it nonetheless.
Now I'm the parent, and I want to teach them everything — money and time management, people skills, problem-solving. Giving an allowance seems like a good way to teach money management, and since I received one as a child, I thought it was time to get the kids started with one. We tried it and it kinda worked, but it kinda didn't.
We were not committed. I implemented Financial Friday (an idea that I borrowed from a friend), and the kids were supposed to be paid every Friday. Due to direct deposit and the bad habit of not going to the bank to withdraw cash, I often put the kids off until the next day. Saturday is the most hectic day of the week and I would try to remember, but most of the time I forgot. I tried setting up accounts and telling them that we would just deposit the amount of money in the bank at the beginning of the month and they would have to use it for their wants. Again, our hectic life took over and we didn't do it.
The other challenge for us is that the little kids wanted to get in on the game and they really didn't need money every week. We wanted to hold off on the allowance until age 8, but the little kids still expected the golden wallet for ice-cream cones and vending machines. What's a parent to do?
The bigger question about allowance in our home is: Should it be money for chores? I was reading Dave Ramsey, national best-selling author, and he urges parents to pay the kids commission for their household activities. I like his approach to financial management, but I'm a little torn about this idea. I don't get an allowance for chores, and even though I believe I deserve it, I won't ever get an allowance for taking care of my home. I believe that children should learn how to care for a home independent of reward because we're preparing them for adulthood, right?
And if the issue of allowance doesn't ruffle your feathers, then try asking your family to invest for the kids instead of buy.
My girlfriend: "That's a mean request. You're just not being grateful that they want to buy things for your kids."
Siblings: "Don't you remember what it was like opening that doll or that video game? What fun is opening a stock certificate?"
Yep, I'm the bad guy, just trying to meet the education needs of my children. I know my parents didn't have all of this analysis going on, so I'm going to pay the kids a weekly allowance and allow them to earn extra money doing the chores I don't like to do, like dusting the ceiling fans or cleaning out the drawers and closets by putting the clothes away for the season change. There is plenty of work to go around. Now if only I can keep up with this plan and be consistent.
I guess I could get a C+ for trying.