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It’s best to have open communication with your children about money

As a parent you will most probably be in two categories. Either in a mess yourself financially so you feel you are not qualified to teach your child about money or you manage your finances efficiently but don’t quite know how to pass those skills on to your child.

Without a doubt discussing family financial affairs is a subject that many parents shy away from and could be in the same class as discussing sex, discussed only when absolutely necessary (and generally too late)! In order to help put your child on the right financial path it is therefore vital that you (the adult) “build a bridge and get over it” and include your child in the financial life of your family. Sometimes the best way to teach your child is when they think they are not learning.

Some ways you could include your child are to show them how to pay bills on line, explain your last power bill, and how it is worked out. Show them your last bank statement and read it to them as a story of what has happened in your financial life over the past month. Another great way is to talk to your child about how much you spend on groceries each week. Get out an agreed amount of cash to do your grocery shopping and get your child to help you spend it. If the total comes to more than the cash you have then you need to be prepared to put some items back to demonstrate that you can’t spend more than you have. Encourage your child to play detective by getting them to check every item off against the docket when you get home and offer a prize if they find an error. By taking your child back to the store with your docket and getting a refund you will reinforce that making more money isn’t always the answer but what you do with what you earn is what matters.

There is a misconception that schools are responsible for teaching your child to be financially intelligent. The best person to teach your child about money is you the parent. Children need to learn how money works at an early age so they can make informed choices as they grow older. You are the most important role model in your child’s life.
So, what happens if your parents didn’t teach you about money, or you realise you haven’t handled what money you have had very well? Don’t despair, what you did in the past is done. Use it as a lesson and not an excuse. Make some changes and don’t let mistakes of the past become habits of the future for your next generation.

Sylvia Bowden