Skip to main content

Why You Should Talk to Kids About Money

For some reason, talking about finances is taboo in our culture. We've been taught not to share our salaries, our money problems, and disguise our lack of wealth with flashy name-brand purchases that supposedly afford us some sort of clout in society, even when we can't afford those items ourselves. Being poor is looked down upon, and being rich is the ultimate American Dream. But our capitalist society is built upon the poor making the rich richer, and there is no way we are going to be able to break through the glass ceiling of the American class system without explicit lessons on financial literacy. 

In February I took an unpaid leave of absence from work to stay home and care for my children, because I didn't have reliable childcare and I just couldn't imagine returning to work and putting my family's lives in jeopardy for a paycheck. My husband's landscaping company was doing well, and I had just finished a year-long unpaid maternity leave, so I knew although it would be a tight budget, but we would be able to make it financially. 

Both my husband and I grew up poor, and we vowed that we didn't want to live that way as adults. We are not rich by any means, but we're solid working middle class, and we've been smart enough with our money since before we were married in 2014 to finance our wedding and buy a house in the same year, built my husband's business, and buy two rental properties. 

But as millennial parents with three kids and substantial debt, we feel a heavy responsibility to teach our kids the financial lessons we had to learn through experience. 

At two and four, the little ones are a bit young to have explicit financial lessons, but it begins by teaching them not to waste anything, and to take care of the toys, clothes, and things we have at home. We are careful to recycle anything we can, and we compost all our food waste. The adage "Waste not, want not" is trite, but it's our goal to instill in them the appreciation and value of the things we have--clothes, food, and toys. 

Now at ten, the oldest one has had her fair share of financial lessons. We don't believe in an allowance or paying for chores, since doing chores and responsibilities are all a part of being a member of the household. Of course we make sure she has what she needs, but if she wants to buy something specific, she has to save birthday or Christmas money she gets from her family members. We also talk about the expenses of different items she wants, or things we buy, and we explain to her how we weigh our purchases. If she wants to buy something, I've shown her how to look online to see which store offers the best price, and I've also taught her to use coupons and discount codes whenever possible. We have taught her about minimum wage, and how many hours one would have to work to buy something (like an iPhone) and then we debate whether it is a reasonable purchase or not. 

I've modeled for her financial reasoning, like I would pay one price for a certain item, but not a higher price. Or I ask her (or myself), "Is it something you need, or something you want?"

Just recently, we were talking to her about the process of refinancing our house, and the actual breakdown of a mortgage payment. We believe it is important to include our children in these conversations about finances from a young age, so that they have a realistic understanding of money and its importance and place in society. 


Popular posts from this blog

Why We Don't Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos, either

El Dia de los Muertos, (The Day of the Dead) is often considered the Latin-American equivalent to Halloween, as it is a celebration that takes place every year on November 1st and 2nd throughout Latin America. But it actually has nothing to do with Halloween, and even pre-dates the Celtic Samhain, which is where our modern-day Halloween traditions come from.  The ancient indigenous Aztec people of Mexico celebrated the lives of past ancestors 3,000 years ago, and that month-long ritual was condensed into just a few days around the 20th century and is now known as the Day of the Dead. Today,  El Dia doe los Muertos is a time for Latinos to remember their dead loved ones and celebrate them, for it is believed that the souls of all people that have passed away return to Earth to check up on their families during this day.  But up until last night, I didn't believe El Dia de los Muertos was celebrated in Guatemala. Growing up in California with many Mexican-American friends, I was fami

Is 5 Little Monkeys Racist?

I’ve seen a lot of Tik Toks debunking children’s nursery rhymes lately. I have two toddlers, so now whenever I hear one of those rhymes, I think about their unsavory origins. But my son loves, loves Five Little Monkeys. He’s just learning to talk, and can almost say it by himself. I’ve thought about telling him to stop singing it since I learned in the original lyrics it’s not monkeys jumping on the bed, but he just gets so much joy from singing it as he jumps up and falls down, I thought... no harm, no foul, right? As long as he thinks the song is about monkeys, it’s ok.  Until my niece came over one day, and the three toddlers were playing on an old mattress we have on the living room floor for them to jump around on. My son asked me to sing 5 Little Monkeys. At first it was cute, because they literally were jumping on the bed, but then I took a good look at the three of them.  My kids are half-Guatemalan but very fair, like I am. Whereas my niece is half-black, and her skin happens

Why my Children Won't Believe in Santa Claus

Tonight all across the world, children are waiting for Santa with bated breath. They've made lists of wants and perhaps written letters addressed to the North Pole, baked cookies, set out milk, and dream of sugar plums dancing in their heads. But not my children. Well, maybe the dreaming of sugar plums part, but definitely not the white beard, chubby and plump right jolly old elf part. Even before my two biological children were born, my husband and I made the decision to not deceive them with the narrative of Santa, and in fact, not give them any gifts at all on Christmas. Intrigued? Infuriated? Here's why... My husband is from Guatemala and was raised Jehovah Witness , and one of the tenants of that faith is a strict adherence to not celebrating anything here on earth. This includes not celebrating Christmas or birthdays , and not giving gifts to commemorate these days. While he isn't a practicing Witness right now (instead we attend Celebration International Church