We are raising our children in a culture of rent to own, bad credit loans, and scraping by until payday. They are learning from their parents that tax refund time is the one time a year when you strike it rich and the rest of the year is back to survival mode.
If parents aren’t equipped to teach their children how to be responsible with money, who is? They will repeat the mistakes of their parents regardless of how much money they make. Because the funny thing about money is that when you don’t know how to manage it, it doesn’t matter if you make $30,000 a year or $300,000 a year, it has a way of disappearing.
I have felt for a long time that life skills classes should be taught in public schools. Things like budgeting, grocery shopping, interest rates, credit scores, balancing a checkbook, and so many other vital lessons that are necessary to daily life. Most adults can function perfectly fine throughout their lives without ever reading Hamlet or dissecting a frog, but they all need to know and understand the way life works living on their own. It means the difference between struggling for security and feeling the confidence that comes with making good, solid choices.
My daughter has heard me tell her many times, “that’s a little expensive, why don’t we check for it online later?” or “maybe we should wait and if you still want it in 2 weeks, we’ll talk about it again”. She has asked me before if we are rich. I told her that we are rich in that we have everything we need and a lot of things we want, but not in that we have unlimited amounts flowing in every month. Having financial peace and security are lessons I want to ingrain into her. I know she will have me to guide her and she will make lots of mistakes along the way, but learning how to grow from them will mold her future. My mom’s favorite story to tell about me is when I was 3 years old, she was making a grocery list and asked if I wanted yogurt and I asked her if it was on sale. She literally tells strangers that story all the time, but I know as a parent it makes you proud to know that your child knows the principles she needs to make good decisions. It makes me extremely blessed to have the parents I have. So many children do not.
I cringe when I overhear parents telling their child, “Now I’m broke because I had to buy you boots and ski pants.” No, I’m sorry, you are not broke because you spent money on basic necessities for your child. You may in fact be broke, but it’s not because of this. Tell your child that you are broke because you spent $100 this month on coffee or $50 on a manicure or upgraded your cellphone, but don’t put this on them.
The public school system isn’t a solution for bad examples at home, but it’s something. It would give them a chance. Children need to learn that they can be successful if they have a plan and know the way the world works. They need to understand how many traps there are to suck money out of their hands and how to avoid them. If kids can’t learn positive things about money at home, they should have a place to learn them. They need a place. I know the school budgets are always tight, but I would be happier if my daughter and all her classmates had a life skills class over having iPads. While you can put a price tag on an iPad, you can’t put one on a lifetime of financial peace.