You might have a rock-solid budget in place, one that has worked for you for years. But what are you sharing with your kids? What would happen to your household if you became ill? Have you shared enough information with your spouse to be able to have them carry on without a hitch if you can’t?
Teaching those in your home is your responsibility. It will set them up to make responsible decisions as an adult, to buy a home or a car, and to manage their money with care.
There are some who would argue that it isn’t any of the kids’ business where you spend your money. While that is partially true, it is still vital that they learn how to read bills that come in the mail. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t see a bill until you moved out of your parents home.
Your kids probably don’t understand that those big, long envelopes you get in the mail are actually very important pieces of your (and their) life. As you go through your mail, or have them go through it with you, show them the power bill, the water bill, the car payment statements. Explain to them where to find the last month’s usage and compare it to the current month. Showing them how much money you pay for them to run the television or leave the light on for no reason can prompt a conversation about how to cut some costs in the house.
Making your family conscious of how much it takes to run a household will prepare them for life when they leave home.
Where the Money Goes
Many people have gone to using an envelope method of budgeting. So when it comes time to pay up, ask your child to count the cash out to you so they have a concept of how much something costs. Use a ration to compare it to how much allowance they get using an example like, “Paying the power bill with my paycheck is like you paying it with $1.25 of your $5.00.” See if they make the connection.
Show them that you save money for emergencies and vacations. Teaching your kids to save will help them in their future. In fact, having them dedicate a percent of their allowance will teach them early.
Teach the Kids Visually
Most kids are very visual learners, so a chart of some kind will help them keep track. Make up a chart for each day of the week and with different kid friendly categories of budgeting (like savings, toys, books, eating out, and games). These should represent very specific ways kids spend their money. When their money is gone, it is gone. Utilize envelopes or jars to encourage the art of not spending more than you have allotted for each category.
Keeping your spouse be in the loop is vital. They should know what you have coming in and going out all the time. Agree on monetary allotments for all areas in the budget and allow them access to the information. Put your heads together and find ways to save money in controllable categories or eliminate unnecessary bills so you can add those funds elsewhere. Make practical goals to aid you in getting the things you want out of life, like paying off a car or a home loan. My point here is that doing it together will make it much easier to keep your eyes on the straight and narrow path of finances.
Your spouse should never be in the dark where money is concerned. If they don’t like doing the bills, that’s fine, but they should still know where the money is going.
Involving your family and teaching your children while they are young will make them more open to cutting the budget when necessary. It will also help them keep their own budget when they are older. Many kids don’t have that luxury and must learn the hard way. Do them a favor and make it part of their lives now.