We have to talk to our children about money

May 9, 2022 | Finance

I don’t know about you – but when I was growing up, my parents never spoke to me or my siblings about money and certainly never included us (nor asked our opinion) on decisions made with regards to money. My father worked. He gave the money to my mother and she saw to the household.

My father was a joiner/ cabinet maker – and we ran a tuck shop from our house. We certainly weren’t rich – but we weren’t poverty stricken either. And the money motto in our house was “As daar is, dan is daar – as daar nie issie, dan is daar nie”

And that is the way it was. No questions asked. Today’s life and children are different. Things and conversations are more inclusive – and times have changed. The cost of living is rising. Household debt is rising. And brand association and instant gratification seems to be the order of the day. To get a grip on this, it seems that speaking to our children about money is the way to go.

Often we don’t give our children enough credit for being aware of what is happening around them. Just because they aren’t speaking about certain things – doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of it. So rather have open, honest discussions about household finances with them, than have them make up scenarios in their head.

They don’t need to know exactly how much we earn, but they should be aware of the  overall financial situation of the household,  so that they know what the boundaries are.

Don’t sugar-coat things. If you, and the household are experiencing financial hardship – tell them about it. Discuss short term and long term changes that can they too can make to help the situation.

For example, if you tell them straight out that there is no money for a particular big-ticket item that they might want (TV, Xbox, Playstation etc) for the next six months, it will stop them asking and nagging in anticipation every month. This can take alot of emotional pressure off you and the family.

Children are clever and learn from what they see. Don’t underestimate their intelligence. If they can interact via a cellphone, then they can transact via money. Take them with you when going to banks, ATM’s and when you pay with your cards. Most banks have accounts for children. Open an account for them and let them start interacting and being responsible for their own money.

Tell your children about the difference between a debit and a credit card. Some children think you have unlimited money – simply because they see you swiping all the time. If you haven’t explained it to them – can you blame them for their child-like assumptions?

Sadly, many children have a huge sense of entitlement and are oblivious to what is a necessity that they need – and a luxury that they want. It is our jobs as parents to educate them on this.

I’ll be honest – I haven’t ever, and don’t intend to take tantrums from children insisting on things that I can’t afford. Ek vattie drama van my kabouters nie!

There is also no way in hell, that I am going to put myself into unaffordable debt for a child who makes demands for name- brands and unnecessary things.

As much as we try to shield our children from the harsh realities of life – we need to also be realistic and allow them to actively learn about life, and that includes money.

I think that the reason our community remains so indebted and so financially disempowered is because we don’t talk about money. The good, the bad, the great and the ugly about it. Because of that – we don’t find solutions to financial problems, and we stay in a vicious cycle of debt, money mismanagement and ignorance.

We continue to take a back seat and watch others become wealthy. We need to change the financial narrative and empower ourselves, our children and generations to come. We MUST speak to our children about money.

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Written by Moeshfieka Botha

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