We treat parenting like a skill. True, there’s some talent involved, and some personalities are more suited to it than others (much like woodworking or acting), but it’s also something that you can get better at.
This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.
So we read books. In the past we’ve read books on reading and happiness, so this year we focused on money. The Opposite of Spoiled focuses on how to teach kids about money, so that they won’t be clueless or have bad habits when they grow up. Some of this we had already been exposed to (from Rich Dad Poor Dad and other sources), but much of it was new territory. Some tips I picked up:
Don’t make money a taboo subject. Tell your kids how much money you make, and where it all goes. This will nudge you into being a good example with regards to saving and charity, but also opens the door for them to ask questions and get answers. Remember to teach them about politeness, though – only look into your neighbor’s bowl to make sure they have enough.
Give them an allowance. Kids need a chance to practice making decisions with a limited budget. Advise them on purchases, but let them make the final decisions. If they want to blow it all on candy and not save up for a video game, that’s their choice.
…but start them off with good habits. Becky grew up with half of her allowance automatically being diverted into a savings account, and that habit has served her well in adulthood. We’ve carried this forward with our kids, and they love seeing how much they’ll have to put towards a car or something big in the future.
Use tools. We can’t recommend FamZoo enough. It’s like “Mom and Dad Community Credit Union,” but with a website and automation. You can set up allowances for kids with amounts based on their age, with automatic splits into savings and spending. For older kids they offer debit card accounts too.
We learned a lot from this book, and we’ll probably read it again after a while, just to make sure we’re doing the right things at every age. If you’ve never thought about how your kids think about money, this book is a fine place to start.