Growing up my parents were always completely transparent when it came to household finances, even though we lacked for nothing and my parents always ensured we had everything we needed if there wasn’t money or if my parents were going through a tough time we were told look there isn’t money right now etc.
Now that I have kids of my own I have a very similar approach if we don’t have money I explain to my kids that we do not have the extra money right now etc and I have to say that I have had many a bad reproach in reaction to this- I have been told that kids should not have to worry about finances or that our finances should not concern them etc….
1. Your kids learn the value of money; it is never too early to teach them this.
2. Your kids will understand exactly why they cannot have something, instead of just saying because…
3. Your kids will understand that you work hard to be able to give them what they need.
4. Your kids will appreciate what they have when they have it.
5. You are teaching your kids not to hide their financial situation when they get older and to be open and honest with all involved in the household, and that they are important within the household as well.
In many ways kids will be kids so they still ask me why or how come or that’s not fair but in my opinion I would rather be open and honest with them than just agree to everything they want even though we cannot afford it.
I saw this come out on the weekend, we are nearing the end of the month and were down to the last in the house so I used what we had veggie wise to make a large pot of soup and then for Gabriel some pasta because he has a tactile issue with soup (crazy monkey), my older 2 asked me if there was something else and I said no that is what I made and what we had and pay day is later this week, they said ok mommy and after supper was done they both came to me gave me a big hug and thanked me for the wonderful food, even though I know it probably wasn’t the nicest food or what they really wanted it really warmed my heart to know that I could be open and honest with them and that they could understand and be appreciative of what we had.
We also have a monthly pocket money system as the kids want tuck-shop on Fridays, the money they receive is enough to purchase a hotdog and then one other item (I do pack in yoghurt and fruit as well), and it is based on them doing their household chores and their behavior each week, this has worked very well for our household and is also a plus side for me as I don’t have to make lunch on Fridays (mommy needs a break to).
I try to get as many different coins as I can so that they can count their money out and every week they come home excited to tell me what all they got for their money, sometimes if they think it out they end up with more than one thing and get better ‘value’ for their money, it also teachers them to take responsibility for their choices and for the money they need to carry to school, I don’t think I received any tuck shop money until I was in late high school and then it was out of my own pocket as were my art supplies and toiletries but you know what I survived and I feel that I am better off for it and so will my boys be, I am however really happy that I can do this for my kids.
Of course as a parent I always try to give them more than what they need but sometimes they need to understand that what they need is all we can afford and that is ok, I know they will understand one day when they have their own families, I am not saying you need to be doom and gloom and such but I do think it is very important that they understand why it is you say no and what is going on in their household financially, while still ensuring that they know that their needs will always be met but that financial choices need to be made in order to meet those needs and unfortunately if we spend R600 odd on a toy then well that money will have to come out of somewhere which will leave less money for food or petrol etc, I also like to explain that when it comes to parties and presents we have a certain budget, at the boys ages I allow them to choose their own birthday gifts, I take them to the store and tell them what budget we have and off we go sometimes they will pick up something that puts them over the budget and I will explain but then you need to put something back etc, it takes a bit longer but at the end of the trip I walk out extremely proud of them and they walk out feeling really good as well.
At the end of the day every parent has the right to make whatever decision they want regarding their finances and how open and honest they are with their children, I can say that I have seen many friends whose parents would hide their financial situation or that there wasn’t money for things and they always ended badly and in the majority of cases my friends would express that they wish they had been told or had known, I think it shows a lot in the way your children will budget and manage their finances one day as well, my mom’s ocd need to budget and list is where I got it from and it has been a life saver for us over the last few months, we may go without but my kids never do and never will, we are very fortunate and blessed in that way and I hope that my kids will always remember and appreciate being involved.