Mom and Dad, Your Financial Decisions Matter


With Mother's Day in the recent past and Father's Day two days ago, I wanted to give credit where credit is due and encourage all the parents out there who are trying to teach their kids about money. Those things you're doing at home? They're working. Your kids are hearing it! Read below for some more suggestions as to what you can do to teach your kids about money. They worked on me!

I don't know why you care about money (though I'd love to hear it in the comments), but I care about money because my parents cared about money.

Really, it's that simple. When I was growing up, my parents both showed me and taught me that my money and how I chose to spend it was important. They gave me an allowance, but they both encouraged and reminded me to save some. They helped me choose toys that I wanted (and could eventually get) to save towards. When I was old enough, they got me a savings account so that I could get my bank statement in the mail each month and see my money making money (and so I could feel like a big person, and associate that "grown up" feeling with "saving," I suppose). Later on, they co-signed so I could open a checking account and taught me how to write a check, use my ATM card, and balance my checkbook every month.

Beyond all of these things, though, I saw my parents value their money. I saw my dad (and later my mom) go to work every morning so that we would be able to have the things we needed and wanted. I saw dad sit down with his checkbook every month and balance it. I saw him write checks to pay the bills and I saw the little stamped envelopes go out in the mail. I heard him on the phone with different financial planners over the years, sorting out investments and retirement funds.

I saw my mom buy things that were a good deal and skip the things that weren't, even when she wanted them. I helped her fill produce bags and weigh them, and then I helped her calculate what she'd pay. I sat down with her to learn how to write a check and I saw her resolve the discrepancies in my checkbook that I didn't understand.

I also saw the fruits of their labors. I watched them buy a car with cash. I went on vacations that we couldn't have taken without their careful saving. I saw the things that they could buy for each other and for us that wouldn't have been an option if they didn't have a financial plan.

So to Mom and Dad (and to all the moms and dads out there who care about money and who are trying to teach their children to do the same), thank you. Thank you for showing me not only that making wise decisions about my money was important, but how to make those and what the results could be.

Now it's your turn. Why do you care about money? Did your parents do anything that helped or hindered your relationship with money later in life? Please share: I'd love to hear!

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Guest's picture

My parents were, unfortunately, just the opposite. My mother did eventually start making me pay $175/month in highschool for what she said was my half of the utilities (and this was before turning 18).

My father, who I adore, just never though he would get old, I think. He never started a savings for retirement, he never saved any money (my mother took most of it when she left anyway). Now he's 56 years old, on disability, and I'm supporting -him-. I think if anything my father scared me into getting my "stuff" together financially because it's not just me anymore. I have someone whose quality of life is depending on me, so I keep track of every cent that goes in and out of my accounts and am constantly looking for ways to reduce my monthly expenditures and live frugally.

Guest's picture

My parents taught me squat about money, except how to hoard it for myself. But now I'm married and have learned the hard ways of savings and investing and just my general thought process on what money is and isn't. It's been tough and blogging has helped me clear up misconceptions and put my ideas into concise words.

My folks did teach me though that if you worked your butts off you can retire in your early 40s.

Guest's picture

My parents never taught me much about money overtly, but like you they taught a lot by their actions. I went grocery shopping with my mom every week (and when they started putting the cost per unit (ounce, each, etc.) on the price labels, I taught HER how to use those to get the cheapest price!), and saw that she only bought clothes that we on sale for 50% off or more.

I also saw how they had a big house that was well furnished, and my dad got himself a new car every few years. So there were ups and downs.

I was born frugal, it's just in my blood, so that helps a lot with my managing my money now.

Guest's picture

Everything I know about money ... I DIDN'T learn from my parents! They were appalling money managers, gambling addicts and credit card junkies. After a painful adolescence, where I never had proper equipment for school and was not allowed to go on school field trips, they forced me to leave school at 16, so they could squeeze money out of me for my "board". They also introduced me to consumer credit - signing me up for a credit account so I could buy clothes to wear to work. This turned into a full-blown dependence on credit cards on my part, and it wasn't till I moved far away from my home town at 22, that I went "cold turkey" on the credit and retrained my spending and saving habits. I love being frugal! I love having retirement savings! But alas, my careful habits have never rubbed off on my family, who continue to live as if there was no tomorrow ... and to sponge off me ...

Will Chen's picture

Good for you Karin.  While you had a tough childhood, you learned to be responsible with your money at a much earlier age than most people I know.

Guest's picture

Yep, you certainly do grow up fast when you have no choice! Life is great now, provided I stay a safe distance from my miserable past ;-)

Andrea Karim's picture

You know, I think that the key to teaching effective money management isn't just to make good decisions but to explain them. My parents are great with money, but most of the decisions that they made were very opaque. We kids weren't really allowed in on any of the financial discussions - in fact, I was forbidden to inquire about my dad's annual salary until a couple of years ago.

Things like saving money to pay for a car in cash (and still, buying a used car), never spending more than you have, balancing your checkbook daily, and learning to live with less junk were all things that my parents excelled at, but they were never really explicitly explained to us. Perhaps I was a lost cause, but maybe it would have made a difference if we had crunched the numbers early on, as a family.