“Do I say not as I do.”
Some of us parents live on this aphorism when it comes to teaching their kids.
We don’t necessarily say it verbally, but that is the kind of message we are sending to them.
Unfortunately, however, it’s not how it works. Kids imitate our ways more than they do listen to what we say. Between telling them off to clean their room and actually seeing you clean yours, your kids will more likely follow you when they see you do something.
It’s the same thing when it comes to teaching them about money. We may try our best to persuade them to buy less expensive clothing, save their allowance, or dine out less frequently, but if they see you do the exact opposite thing, you should not be surprised if they are not doing what you say. We are our kids’ first role models anyway. You know what they say — the apple does not fall too far from the tree.
Below are some of the ways we unconsciously teach our kids our own money values
1. You’re buying signature items all the time
Ah, the finer things in life as they say. Having tried the finer things in life could open up our minds to the possibilities out there, but doing this all the time could be setting up your kids a very high level of lifestyle too soon. And they have not earned it yet. Someday, they will go out to the world on their own and make their own choices…and will probably choose the ones they got used to: expensive clothing, luxury jewelries, cars, etc. With the ease of availability of credit, all this isn’t possible, but of course, the will have to pay the price, probably for years.
Treat signature items as rewards instead of regular buys. Promise, rewards would feel better that way.
2. You’re not practicing delaying gratification
In other words, you don’t put off buying what you want. Instead, you buy as soon as money touches your hand on payday. Shopping bags pop up on the floor during payday. Rushing to the store soon after noticing that you need a brand new kitchen set. Kids could pick up on this behavior. One day, when your kids get their own jobs, they will become one-day millionaires – the types of people who splurge on pay day and struggle until the next salary arrives.
Compare this with having a piggy bank at home that everyone sees and takes care of. With the second scenario, kids will understand the value of patiently waiting while saving for something you long to have.
3. You take on unnecessarily huge loans in order to celebrate or go on vacations
Admit it. A lot of us Filipinos have the propensity towards this behavior as we do not want to forego celebrations and gatherings. We might think it’s okay because it seldom happens but it’s actually unhealthy from a financial standpoint. You’re spending money you don’t have and find the excuse to do so: we are feeling good and happy so blowing money is ok.
On the other hand, there are other ways in which we are also sending positive messages to our kids about money values. Here are some of them.
1. You give them a set budget allowance for theirs to track and spend
You don’t simply give them each time they ask, without a valid reason at all. Instead, you ask them to budget because the next allowance won’t be available until next week. This especially applies to parents who are sending their kids to college far away from home. This is telling them that you are doing the same thing at home, there should be no reason why it’s not possible for them to do the same. Kids will have no other choice but to become resourceful and smart when it comes to managing their own money.
2. You let them earn money for themselves
For us working parents, money is a sweet reward for our hard work. Yes, earning money is hard that is why it feels like a fitting reward when you finally receive your paycheck and you feel good when you think you deserve it. That’s because earning it takes an honest exchange of your time and effort and the dollars that represent it.
Sometimes, we tell our kids that earning money isn’t easy so get easy on the spending. Truth is, they will never fully grasp this statement until they go out and exchange their effort for money. We’re not saying you should send your kids to CostCo but if one day they come to you and ask if they can try earning for themselves, it’s a good opportunity to learn that earning money is not easy but will be rewarding, nonetheless. Likewise, it will teach them that they have to work hard for it and really earn it… not beg for it.
3. You ask them to help save resources at home
Electricity. Water. Gas. Leftover food. We know all these took a slice of the pie of our income that’s why we don’t want to waste them. Ask your kids to turn off the lights when not used. Walk when it’s walkable. Re-heat the leftover for the next meal. Asking your kids to help you on these resources is already teaching them how to do it when it’s time for them to leave the nest. It’s a lesson worth teaching early on.
4. You tell them how you saved to get what you wanted to buy
Many of us OFWs come from quite humble beginnings. Admit it, we like to recall the days (over dinner) when we had to walk barefoot to school, sell candies to our classmates to pad our allowance, or save money to pay for our own tuition. Or having gone deep in debt but found a way out by spending less and saving more. Stories like these are stories of triumphs as a result of our hard work and values of saving money. And you know what? Kids love storytelling! You loved hearing your grandma’s story as a kid growing up in the province so go on and share your story. Don’t be ashamed!