This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.
At any given moment the wallets you see here of 10 year old Emma and 6 year old Evan, are full of cash bursting to be spent by its owner. Most often, cool heads prevail and said wallet retains most of its contents. But there are moments when desire, lack of reason and plain ole bad decision making wins and causes a Barreto kid to part ways with hard earned funds. And so begins our tale.
Many of us have a complicated relationships with money. And it starts as kids. I certainly did. We never seemed to have enough and so when I did have it - I blew it. Things changed slightly when I started working but not much. To be honest, it wasn't until my cherubs arrived 10 years ago that my relationship with money changed drastically. It was then I made a conscience decision to teach them money matters early in life.
Here are three things my kids know about money that most kids their age don't know:
1. Time is money
Not literally, but my kids fully understand that time spent at work gives us money to do our life. And as an entrepreneur starting several businesses, my kids are uber aware of what Mommy's time is worth. You may think that is crash but it happens to help with our choices of how we spend our time together. The kids understand that Mommy taking a full day to hang with them means a lot and is a sacrifice financially. And they make the connection to their allowances. They each get a set amount every two weeks in direct proportion to their extra contribution around the house. That value creeps in as we hit the dollar store or when someone wants to spend money on "The Claw". They remember what it took to earn the money and suddenly the desires change.
2. Cash is king
Whenever we embark on a goal, the whole family is in on the savings toward it. Our kids know that cash is king with us. They understand the idea clearly of spending what you actually have versus the alternative. For example, we are going to Spain this Christmas and started saving for it in early 2010. Each month, we have watched together as our savings climbed toward our goal. It has been a fun exercise. We started saving for Emma's quincinera that we plan to host in Mexico when she is 15. Yeah, 5 years and 8 months before the event we started stashing cash for the big party teaching our kids a valuable lesson along the way.
3. Generosity with money rules
My kids understand that they are fortunate and are eager to share with people who are not. I cannot tell you how many times my kids see a need that they can fill with their money. Interesting enough, we don't talk a lot about giving money away. We just do it often when a need arises and our kids have picked that up. Donating money to causes you care about is one of the most rewarding feelings one can have and it is amplified when you teach that value to kids.
While these three tips won't make kids financial geniuses, it will help them start a lifelong positive relationship with money and it's place in their lives.