This week’s article is written by Josh Robb, co-host of The Invested Dad’s Podcast! Josh is a Certified Financial Planner™, Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Wealth Management at Hixon Zuercher Capital Management, youth league soccer coach, and dad extraordinaire. I hope you enjoy his take on how to talk to your kids about money in a way that meets their own unique personality.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Saving
Growing up, I always had a hard time spending money. I remember riding my bicycle down to the local pharmacy to get some candy with my brother and sisters. I would look at the different options and try and determine which of those choices gave me the best bang for my buck. I usually ended up with some form of gum, having reasoned that the amount of time chewing each piece would give me the longest enjoyment from my money. It did not matter if I was really craving some chocolate, the value of my purchase was more important.
As an adult, I now understand that I approach money from a saving mindset. I feel safety and security in the ability to save and have money available for emergencies or needs in the future. The other mindset is that of a spending mentality. This mentality feels safety in the ability to spend now, and then security that the future needs will be taken care of. As a parent to 4 great kids and a financial professional, I have found some who have a similar thought process as me and others who do not. I have had to adjust how I talk and teach about savings.
As I have been trying to impart some guidance on saving and planning for the future to my kids, I have had to come to terms with the fact not all my kids are as excited about saving money as I was at their age. One of my kids loves to save and, before her 10th birthday, already determined she is saving for a car and college (and does not have time for boys as they are a distraction from those goals – which I will continue to encourage as she grows). While another of my kids has some issue with his clothes in that any money in his pocket causes physical discomfort and must be spent as soon as possible.
I have been stuck trying to find a way to show the value in planning and saving for all of them, no matter how they naturally react to money. I want them to see the value in discipline and planning and start the process of building those positive habits. What I have learned is that no matter which mindset you have, you can use your mindset as an advantage to jumpstart those habits and disciplines.
For the savers:
Mindset: The positive is you already default to putting money away, this helps. You can set goals far out into the future.
Risks: What is often missing is the permission to spend on needs or wants when you have the money available. If you are a saver, you will need to give yourself permission to use some of that money. There is a fine line between being frugal and being a cheapskate. Upgrading your wardrobe will not stop you from getting that car you want, and if you have holes in your clothes this may be a good use of some of your money.
Actions: Continue to set those goals, but make sure you leave room in your budget for short term expenses and unforeseen costs. Also set aside some money for giving. Savers can be so focused on their own goals and future needs they miss out on the opportunity to bless others.
Teaching Ideas: When I am helping my saver-mindset kids, I encourage them to always budget for giving some of their money to charity. Not only do I want them to budget this, but I also want them to identify why they choose to give to that cause. Hopefully this helps them see the value and not just look at it as a required expense. Also, I encourage some of the money to be not earmarked for anything. This allows them to buy something without any guilt. It hopefully teaches them the fun in splurging once in a while. And make sure they actually spend that money on something they would enjoy – not just saving the “splurge money”, for later!
For the spenders:
Mindset: You see money as a means to an end. This allows you to use money as a tool. Use this mindset to set goals and create opportunities to celebrate when you meet your goals.
Risks: Spenders tend to be more impulsive; This allows them to enjoy more, but can also leave you short if unforeseen expenses show up. Future goals are also harder to stick with if there are no short-term successes along the way.
Actions: Make sure that you are budgeting and planning where your money needs to go. Set up goals with milestones to give you successes along the way. Also, make sure to leave room in your budget to give in to those impulse buys.
Teaching Ideas: For my spending mindset kids, I want them to set saving goals that are beyond a couple of weeks or months. This helps them learn the value of delayed gratification. I also encourage them to set some money aside for the splurges, but make sure they do not go beyond that set amount. Hopefully this will cause them to weigh the current reward versus a potential future reward they may want more. Do I want the candy from the store now? Or wait and buy something fun when we go to the zoo?
There is not a superior mindset when it comes to how you view money. The key is to understand how you view money and create disciplines and habits to build off your strengths and also help reduce your weaknesses. Either mindset can benefit from planning out your spending and also leaving some flexibility and freedom within the budget. Remember, habits are not formed overnight. Keep with it and do not get discouraged if you have some setbacks.
Finally, never feel like you have to go about this alone. Find someone you trust to help hold you accountable to your goals.