Money lessons for your children

A good example is the greatest teacher and children learn mostly by copying or repeating what they have seen their parents do.

Nonnie Canham CFP®

Nonnie Canham CFP®

Private Wealth Manager

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Money lessons for your children

The story of the 2,000 “Stripling Warriors” is a powerful depiction of the irreplaceable role a mother plays in her children’s lives.

The warriors’ parents had vowed to never again take part in any wars when they converted to Christianity. So determined to keep this promise were they, that they did not even defend themselves when they came under attack some years after their conversion. Their children, who had been too young to make the vow with their parents at the time they all converted, had grown into teenagers and young men who volunteered to fight in defence of their parents, so that they would not break their vow.

A mother’s role…

In the end, these young men won the battle against more seasoned warriors, and none of their number were killed. When asked how they had accomplished this they answered that they did not doubt they could because their mothers knew they would. Their mothers were the source of their confidence in their own abilities, despite their personal inexperience.

As a mother myself, I know how my young children look to me for guidance, support and life lessons. They rely on me to help foster their own independence in everything from brushing their own teeth and tying their own shoelaces, to teaching them long division and how to drive.

…doesn’t always involve money management lessons

As a financial adviser, financial independence appears on my list too, but it doesn’t for everyone. This is partly because women are less likely to take an active role in family financial decisions. According to a 2019 study by UBS Global Wealth, as many as 58% of the women surveyed report leaving the crucial decision-making to their significant other.

You’d be forgiven for thinking these findings reflect the actions of an older generation of women. But the research finds that younger millennial women (those currently aged between 20-34) are more likely to let men take the financial reins than women in their 50s are. I find it particularly frightening that some of the women I’ve met with in my capacity as financial adviser do not even know whether they are married in or out of community of property.

I’ve seen firsthand how taking a backseat with regards long-term finances and big decisions puts women at risk in the case of divorce or death. I recently sat with a client whose husband had passed away. She was understandably distraught; in tears not just because she had lost someone she had spent more than half of her life with, but also because she was almost paralysed at the daunting task of taking over the running of the finances. She lacked all confidence and didn’t even know where to start. She realised at this point that she had done nothing to prepare her two daughters for the responsibility of managing their own finances.

Empower yourself

If you are at risk of finding yourself in a similar position, here are a few steps you can take to improve your financial footing. By empowering yourself, you provide a role model for your children and can teach them invaluable lessons along the way. Remember that not all financial decisions are big or difficult. Small, easy steps can go a long way.

  • Begin with desire. It seems benign but wanting to take control of your finances is a major step towards victory. The “how” will come.
  • Start small. Open a savings account in your name. Yes… there are women who do not have their own savings accounts. Develop the habit of putting a little away every month, religiously. Repetition is the mother of all new habits.
  • Show an interest in finances. Ask your significant other to show you what is being done and why it is being done. This may be a frustrating process for both of you, but persevere; knowledge and understanding of your family finances is worth it.
  • Set goals. Begin with a short-term goal that you can achieve by saving for under 6 months. Longer term goals can follow as you build your confidence.
  • Trust yourself. Even if you initially make mistakes, this is how even our children learn. Be kind to yourself and trust that with time you will become better at managing your money.
  • Commit to being the parent who can instill good money habits and sound financial decision-making in your children.

This last point is probably the most important. Your kids may not use trigonometry in their lives… EVER! But they will use money and they need to know how it works. The money lessons you pass on to your children will be more effective and meaningful when they see you practicing what you preach.

Give them the ability to say with confidence that they knew they could handle their financial affairs because their mother knew they could.

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