According to Forbes magazine, one of the most important responsibilities of a parent is to teach their child life skills that will help them to circumvent their way successfully through life. On the life skills list at the very top is financial skills.
What is most important about these skills is that many of them are intertwined with personal habits and behavior. This means that a parent should not only teach the logistical side of personal finances but also model the right financial behavior that tells their children how to manage their money successfully.
Personal Financial Behavior
Once you have simplified the discussion about money markets, Roth IRAs, and savings and checking accounts to our children, then you must find time each week to discuss each of the following behaviors that could lead to money problems and even financial ruin:
Overspending: Teaching your children the meaning of the word frugal is an important element in knowing the importance of saving money. They need to know that it is usually a wise decision to shop around first and find the cheapest deal on an item instead of going one place and spending top dollar on it. Test them and let them shop for a particular item and find at least three or four different places that carry it but at different price points so they can see the savings with their own eyes and how it adds up for long-term financial gains.
Want vs. need: Just because they like something or the fact that “everyone else has it” doesn’t mean it is worthwhile to spend money on. Talk to them about the difference between buying something just for the sake of saying you have one as opposed to sitting down and listing the pros and the cons of spending the money on it and what use they really have for the item. They will see that nearly every time, what they want to buy isn’t usually what they need, and the money they will save is far more beneficial.
Emotional buying: Many people have an addictive personality disorder that makes them buy things that they do not need. This is related to a sense of comfort that they derive in acquiring things that may be filling some sort of emotional void. Many people have put themselves in dire financial straits including losing their homes due to this extreme behavior. Some have even been diagnosed as shopaholics. Talk to your children about this type of behavior and ask them questions and observe their behavior when they shop to see if they are exhibiting any extreme buying including impulse purchases or wanting to buy things in bulk or the same item in every color. This is not necessarily a sign of a problem, (it may just be immaturity), but if you sense a pattern of this activity being exhibited, it may follow your child into adulthood and lead to poor financial prospects for their future. This is the more serious of the behaviors and one that may need professional counseling.
Most importantly, as you teach your children about the skills and behaviors that lead to sound financial decisions, it is imperative that you as parents model the behavior yourself to show your children that it can be done successfully.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.