I spent the first quarter of my life not thinking about money, as most of us did. I know for a fact I never did without anything I needed or wanted and I have very clear memories of house redecorations and weekends at the lake or in the mountains, so I know we weren’t suffering in any real way. The next quarter was a little less carefree and now, looking back, I realize my parents really struggled for a while to feed and clothe the four of us. I also remember the game of ‘beat Daddy to the mailbox’ which sometime in my teens I learned really meant ‘don’t let Daddy see the overdraft notice”.
We like to think that our personal financial situations only affect our children tangentially, but the truth is that our children are very aware of how we spend –and don’t spend- money. I’ll never forget the first time one of the kids told another not to ask because we can’t afford it. It kicked me in the gut. I do not blame my parents for my financial insanity. They taught me better and I made (and make) my own decisions. However, I do see an opportunity to instill better, more concrete financial lessons in my own children and therefore possibly prevent some insane generational pass.
Using ideas from Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze’s new book Smart Money Smart Kids, Jack and I want to teach our kids to good spending, saving and giving habits and how and why to avoid debt. We want to instill a strong work-ethic and most importantly help our kids learn the dangers of entitlement and the joys of contentment.
Our specific plan for Thomas includes renegotiating his/our Smallwood Landscaping business arrangement (his job) and opening a checking account in his name so he’ll learn to balance his income against his financial responsibilities.
Our specific plan for the girls is much the same although their jobs will mostly consist of household chores and their ‘bank’ will be held in labeled jars stored in the kitchen. We are brainstorming ideas for a more ‘grown up’ job for Emma. She’ll be 12 this month. Any ideas are welcome.
So, our Total Money Makeover is gonna be a family adventure. Your thoughts (comments!) and prayers would be appreciated. I let you know how we go.