If you are in a two income family with young children, I don’t have to tell you that life can be frenetic! My husband and I both worked while our two children were growing up, and that time just blew by me. Many good intentions for teaching life skills to our kids were just that – good intentions – and I can’t say that we did a great job in one area (and it embarrasses me to say this) – fiscal responsibility. I guess the nature side of the equation resulted in one child who is a spender, while the other is a saver, but I regret that I didn’t nurture both of them more on matters like saving, budgeting, credit and investing.
But I have recently been given the gift of a sort of “do-over” in a way – and that is with my granddaughter, who is living with us during this school year. As a nine year old, she is at a great age for learning about money, and I am very focused on doing a better job this time around. At a More Magazine Women’s Conference several years ago, I heard Malaak Compton Rock speak about exposing her young daughters to three aspects of money – giving, saving and spending. She wanted to ingrain the spirit of giving to others into her daughters’ lives at a very early age, and also teach them about money.
So now I’ve been given a chance to do that with my granddaughter, and I’m VERY focused on this. As soon as she arrived, we talked about chores and her responsibilities around our home and her dog. Then we established an allowance, and I asked her to divide her money, every week, into three envelopes – give, save and spend. As soon as she had her first week of allowance, we visited our local bank branch and she opened a savings account there.
What I have to say is how freeing it is to be out running errands with her and to be able to put her buying requests back to her – I take care of her needs, and she has to take care of her wants out of her spending money. She doesn’t like that she can’t always get what she wants when she wants it, and sometimes it takes several weeks for her spending amount to grow large enough for a purchase. But now she doesn’t even ask me to buy things she wants as she knows the answer!
Her savings account is off limits – it is for long term things like college – and giving is wherever she wants. So far it has been for the benefit of animals, one of her loves, and the giving of animals to families in developing countries to help support them. I have to say that watching her develop these important financial habits is so rewarding for me – I just hate that I skipped a generation before I figured it out.