“All the things I would do if I had a little money. It’s a rich man’s world”.
Almost everyone that grew up in the 80’s will be familiar with these lines from one of Abba’s popular song. Money is vital. So vital that the Holy Bible said that “money answers all things “( Ecclesiastics 10:19). Money is the language that everyone understands. It determines the exchange value of goods and services. Children, as soon as they start having the knowledge of things around them notice the use of money. In their pretend plays they buy and sell. My two year old does that a lot. He is always like, “I want to buy fuel, take your money” whenever he is driving his make believe car. Money is a connector. I won’t be writing to you if I did not have the means to buy data credit for my phone. This post is not about extolling the necessities of money. It is not about how to make more money than you are making now. It is about inducing children into the mainstream of how money works from an early age. Do they need to bother about that? Yes they do.
With the rise in unemployment and financial downfall of some institutions and countries, it is imperative that kids be fully aware of money and know how they can maximize it either in fullness or lack.
WHY TEACH KIDS ABOUT MONEY?
An adult is a sum total of the training, moral teaching and guidance put in as a child, either positive or negative. When we teach kids respect, we are enabling them to accommodate people irrespective of class or race. In the same vein when we teach kids about money, we are giving them the power to make sound judgements when it comes to their needs and wants.
Kids will always want things, even when it is obvious they won’t have the extra time to play with different types of toys at the same time . When kids know that not everything that is bought is necessary, they will learn to make a preference list from early childhood. Parents can help kids develop this attitude towards money by being truthful when talking about money. Don’t refuse a child a gift and tell him it is because you don’t have the money. I have on more than one occasion told my kids that I don’t have money but they would always reply “but you have money”. And for sure, you have money. I then learnt to say, “yes, I have money but it is not for what you are asking for”. When they ask for something, I put in, “wait let me be certain that the money I have will be enough for that”. When it is not something they need, I tell them out rightly that I am not buying that because they don’t need it at that moment but if they need it and I don’t have the money, I tell them we will get it when I have enough money for that. Allow the kids to make choices based on the money you can afford at the moment. They might not be happy with that decision at the moment but they will thank you for it later.
A true knowledge of money heightens the sense of security in a child.By this I mean the child will learn to be safe and sure enough to take responsibilities for themselves and meet challenges head on. Timidity or low self esteem is far from a child that has a sense of security.
“By creating an environment that fosters security, you as a parent can do a great deal to reduce stress, insecurity and worries”. (Parenting With Purpose. R . Reasoner, M.Lane)
A lady told me that she has never sent her 10 year old out to buy things alone even from a shop close to their house. She felt the kids won’t get it right or that something might go wrong. When I told her my seven year old goes to buy things, it changed her mind set and she said she was going to relax her mind and let her kids run such errands. No one can blame her. It is part of the times we are in and parents have to tread softly. I cannot remember the exact time I started sending my kids out alone. I think it was when I had a ten-year girl saying with me. She would take them along to go out and when she left, it became a huge task to run out and shop if I ran out of salt and food was already on fire. With no other option, I started sending them out, especially the twins. When they went out at first , I stood by the gate till I saw them turn into our street before walking inside. It started thus and I have not regretted it. Sometimes, I send my daughter out alone, other times I send her out with her twin. Kids will definitely start learning to be responsible for their decisions when they start going out to buy things with instructions.
One time, my daughter went to buy a tin of milk. She came back without the milk and said they did not have the particular brand she wanted but they had milk. Oh the carefree thinking of a child! She would have taken the other brand and saved herself the double walk but then I learnt something too. Be specific and direct in your message to the child. For example, you can relay a message like this, “buy a tin of peak milk for 50 naira. If there is no peak milk,buy coast or any other one that is available. Coast milk may cost 6 naira more or less. Therefore this 100 naira will give you XYZ change depending on the brand of the milk you buy”. With a plain message like that, you will be amazed at how fast and easy it will become for the child to learn to take decisions even when it has nothing to do with finances.
According to Richard Templar in his book Rules of Wealth, “lots of really prosperous people have said that they had wealth management drummed into them from a very early age. It seems to be an essential part of prosperity gaining”.
When children put into use good money practices apart from their pretend play, they will learn to make account for every penny used and justify it too.Children can learn to be motivated when they know they will account for every money they use. I make it a rule not to give my kids money to take to school. I buy their school needs and put in their bags. However, kids being kids will tell me about some things they need in the morning so I will have no option than to break the rule. One time, I gave my daughter money to buy some papers for her test. When I asked her how she spent it, she couldn’t tell how much she bought for any particular item and she even went ahead to buy sweets which was not part of the deal. After telling her what I expected of her, I tried again. I gave her 100 naira and told her what to buy. When she came back from school, she was able to tell me what she bought and for what amount. I gave her a high five and smiled at myself for a job well done. The ability to manage money is about making choices. Parents have the first opportunity to teach their kids how to be responsible in all aspects of life.
Lisa Stamps, Ph.D is among the people that believe that “through opportunities to practice responsible behavior, children begin to view themselves as trustworthy and reliable, contributing to their sense of identity”.
Kids are not too young to learn about money and as soon as they begin to identify with their environment and relate with people, they can be free to go out and run simple errands. We allow the kids to grow through their mistakes and glories. Practices we teach the kids follow them to adulthood. Here is an example of a list I wrote for the kids yesterday when they went to shop. They brought back change too. The writing should be eligible so that the learner can read it. The kids should be aware of what is written on the list too. Make sure they have a safe place to put the money and the list ie,pocket or a money pouch .
“Parents are the number one influences on their children’s financial behavior. It is then up to us to raise a generation of mindful consumers, investors, savers and givers”. (B. Kobliner).
We should not encumber our minds with the ideas of possible negative things happening to children if we send them out. We should listen to our instincts and know when to send them out. Do not ever send children out to buy things or any errand whatsoever at night. Bad things happen to children whether in the home or outside. However as God’s children we can always pray and bless our children with divine protection. When we have done that and with proper instruction, it will be difficult for a child to derail from the right path. Here is another quote from B. Kobliner for everyone
“Money is finite and it is important to make wise choices because once you spend the money you have, you don’t have more to spend”.
Make a wise choice today. Empower your child with financial knowledge.