Guest post written by Shawn Brigham, Financial Literacy Expert
Where do we want our children to learn and develop their financial behaviors? What type of examples were given to you to learn your financial behaviors growing up as a child? Do you recall any lessons that helped mold your way of thinking and dealing with your finances? I believe our children can and should learn a great deal from their parents about how to handle their finances. Unfortunately, the advice parents have today does not match up to what our children hear in music lyrics or see from professional athletes. Children don’t wish to hear what their parents are saying about money and how to handle it. This is especially true when the parents are saying one thing and the children then see them doing something different from what they say. We can’t expect optimistic outcomes from our youth if we attempt to raise them in a “Do as I say, Not as I do” atmosphere when dealing with finances. I was fortunate enough to have learned my financial habits from my parents. No, they didn’t sit me down with boring speeches or anything. They instead taught by example.
My parents never took out a loan except for the mortgage. If they wanted a new car, they always paid cash. I was amazed when I was first old enough to realize this. They let me sit in when dealing with the salesman instead of having me hang around in the waiting room. The salesman already knew that when it was time to deal with my parents, that they didn’t care about some” great low monthly payment”. They wanted to know the total final price of the purchase. The haggling would be on the total price, not the monthly price. After they would write a check for the full amount, they would then start making fictitious car payments back to their savings account to replenish the amount they just paid. This allowed them to have the money ready to pay in full when they were ready to purchase their next vehicle. Seeing my parents operate in this manner was far more educational than just hearing them tell me to save my money for when I really want something.
By observing my parents, this lesson taught me to be patient for the things I want and to also save up for them. My parents could have easily taken out a loan for the vehicles they purchased. They most certainly could have gotten a new vehicle more frequently than they did as well. Had they done those things, what kind of example would that have set for me as an impressionable young child? If I wanted a new bike or video game, I learned to wait and save my money. By spending my own hard earned money, this also helped me to have more appreciation for what I purchased. I had to forgo other things I might have wanted to make sure I didn’t waste my money on something I didn’t really want since I knew I had a specific goal in mind. I can remember my parents always reminding me to save my money for something I truly wanted and not waste it on something else just because I had the money and it was available.
Parents tell their children to save their money all the time. Do they show their children that they also save their money for what they want? If parents are constantly getting into debt over non-essential things, then they are telling their children one thing, but actually teaching them something just the opposite. Parents today need to step up and take the challenge to show our youth and hold themselves accountable for what they are showing instead of what they are telling.
Shawn Brigham is a financial literacy expert. Shawn is a blogger, speaker, and Personal Financial Coach/Educator. He specializes in helping with motivation, family, and finances. He works one-on-one and with groups as a coach. He uses his degree in Secondary and Higher Education, in combination with his Master’s in Personal Financial Planning, in an alternative way to help educate the community on the importance financial literacy. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife, two kids, and black Lab. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or at ShawnBrigham.com.
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