Dollars, Cents, and Children

“Slipping through my fingers all the time I try to capture every minute The feeling in it Slipping through my fingers all the time”

ABBA, as in my guilty pleasure Mamma Mia

I was recently cleaning some drawers in my bedroom when I found an envelope containing the old sonograms from my pregnancies. I could barely make out the dates on the faded black and white prints.

But there they were! 2000, 2003… A flood of emotions rushed in and I had to sit down on my bed and take a closer look. Oh my. The memories, the feelings….

I looked away at my nightstand… only to get drenched by a sobering bucket of ice water…. There it was! Bold yellow, thick and proud: the 829-pages“Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2017”. What a shock!

HOW and WHEN did we get from a black and white tiny bean to a college-bound kid?
Welcome to reality.

I know it’s a cliché, but it did take me by surprise, if only for a second. And I realize why. We are so busy figuring out the day-to-day that we forget how we even got to today.
When college looms on the horizon, we ask ourselves the usual questions: is she prepared academically? When should we start the application? What is her GPA? Her SAT? ACT? Which college? Public, private? How much will it cost? Will she have to take out a student loan? God, please, let her get a scholarship. Any scholarship!
And so, we forget to ask the most relevant, important and fundamental question:
And part of that “readiness” is definitely the question: can she handle her newfound independence?
Can she handle the MONEY?
There is a lot of very valuable research and guidance around money and children. A simple internet search will yield pages of links, books, websites, seminars, online tools and games. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand. Every child is different. Every family is different. Financially and culturally.
Take the concept of the “allowance”. It is not a widely accepted practice in every culture. However, in the United States, most research advocates giving children a set weekly or monthly allowance, at an age as early as 8 or 9. The argument is that it teaches children to budget for what they want and learn the value of things. The counterargument is that an allowance is just giving children money “for being children” without asking them to earn that allowance. You see how one can easily argue both points of view.
As my friend wisely stated recently, we would much rather have the “birds and the bees” conversation than the “dollars and cents” one.
Is sex an easier subject than money? Is sex more important than money? Is it more dangerous? Maybe. Yet maybe not.

Before our children slip through our fingers in the maze of the grown-up world, let’s take a moment to have many honest, open, heart-to-heart “dollars and cents” conversations with them, if not before, then at least right after the “birds and the bees”!

What do you think? How and when should we talk to children about money?

Finbliss team

It’s your financial life. Embrace it. An educational community of financially aware women helping, supporting and guiding one another.

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