Dear Dave: Why do you seem to put so much emphasis on teaching young children about money? Isn’t there time for that later, when they’re older? – Cyndi
Dear Cyndi: I firmly believe that one of the best ways you can make sure your kids are ready to face adulthood when the time comes is to teach them how to handle money at an early age. The reason? Learning about money, and how to manage it in a wise, mature fashion, is about a lot more than just dollars and cents.
There’s a quote from author Andy Andrews I really love. He says, “The goal is not to raise great kids. It’s to raise kids who become great adults.” If you think about it, there’s a subtle but powerful distinction here. Kids might behave well out of a sense of obedience or even fear, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do what’s best for them once they’re on their own. To raise kids who later become great adults, you have to begin instilling good character traits in them at an early age.
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Work equals money. When you teach kids to work, you’re teaching them responsibility. Whether it’s chores around the house or a job at the mall, work involves accountability and following through on tasks. Work shows kids they are in control of their actions, and that they will reap the rewards or consequences of those actions.
Teaching kids to save teaches them patience. Today’s world is one of instant gratification, and saving money makes you slow down and think. It also shows kids they can’t have every little thing they want the moment they want it.
When you teach kids to give, you’re teaching them generosity. A willingness and desire to give doesn’t always come naturally to us when we’re young. Parents should encourage and model the act of giving, because generosity is a wonderful character trait and a powerful weapon in the fight against selfishness and greed.
Finally, teaching kids to spend responsibly is a great way to teach wisdom. All kids totally get the idea that spending money is fun. That’s a no brainer. But when you get involved in teaching spending as something that should be thought through and done with care and reason, you’re imparting the idea of using good judgment and thoughtfulness before taking action.
I hope this helps, Cyndi! —Dave
Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert, a bestselling author and host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard locally on KROC-AM. For more financial advice, visit daveramsey.com.