Teaching kids about personal finance is not an easy job. Even so, as a parent I believe it is my responsibility to ensure that my kids have a thorough understanding of good personal finance practices before they leave the nest.
Ultimately it will be up to them to decide if they want to heed the stories and lessons I have been tirelessly passing on to them ad nauseum since they were old enough to apply for a loan at the Bank of Dad.
That concerns me because so far, in the case of my soon-to-be 14-year-old son Matthew, all of the proselytizing and instruction has seemingly been for naught.
My son is an impulsive shopper and, as a result, he has a serious spending problem. He continues to spend money as fast as he earns it, usually on the first thing that even remotely interests him. As I type this, Matthew’s account with the Bank of Dad shows that he is $4.50 in the hole — despite the fact that he often earns as much as $40 per month doing chores.
Needless to say, the Honeybee and I are both getting a bit nervous because if that light bulb doesn’t turn on before he becomes an adult, Matthew is going to be in for a rough time. After all, I keep telling my son that I’ll never cosign a loan for him — so it is imperative that he can show his credit worthiness as a young adult and eventually build up his credit score.
As for my 11-year-old daughter, a few months ago Nina informed me that she was going to start saving her money to buy a brand new iPod Touch. She also told me she intended to do extra chores around the house so she could have enough cash saved up to buy it by this summer.
Although I admired her enthusiasm at the time, I really didn’t think she was that serious.
Well, check out what I saw on the little blackboard hanging on her bedroom wall this week:
Overlooking for a moment the fact that my little girl happens to have a crush on some two-bit fedora-donning hoodlum-crooner named Bruno Mars, take a gander at the top portion of her blackboard. For it is there that Nina neatly wrote the following: Ipod touch 8gb w/camera=$229.00.
She also has proudly marked down her hard-earned progress to-date: $135.45 — a fact that I verified in her very own ledger that she faithfully maintains to track her income and outgo. So even though summer is still officially more than two months away, Nina’s already well over half-way toward her goal.
I have to admit, when it comes my dogged determination to ensure I raise financially literate kids, I’ve often felt as if I’ve been fighting a losing battle. Nina’s blackboard is a happy indication that maybe things aren’t going quite as badly as I thought.
(This article was originally posted on April 13, 2011.)