FSo I am from the Disney generation, and I love Disney. I love the heart wrenching stories, catchy and emotionally charged songs, the characters, the different animation styles and the morals. Especially the morals.
However, I also feel a bit cheated. I always related to the “You don’t need money to be happy” vibe I got from so much popular culture (not just Disney), and grew up thinking that money didn’t matter.
I grew up with unrealistic expectations of the importance of money. There I said it. I undervalue money. I don’t spend much and often feel embarrassed when I think about spending it on frivolous things. I want every penny I spend to be an investment, either in my immediate experience or my financial life. My core money values are fairly strict.
Money certainly isn’t necessary for happiness, but it surely helps, right? So here is what I teach my kids: Money doesn’t make the wheels of happiness turn, but it greases the wheels.
If I teach my kids financial literacy and instill self control and patience in them, they should be able to earn a comfortable living and live within their means, preventing money from causing them stress.
So while money can’t make you happy, making good financial decisions can prevent stress. How do I show my kids this?
Practically, I always make them save part of their money. I never tell them what to buy. Rarely will we spot them the extra money so if Connor wants a $15 toy but only has $5, he can wait or buy something else.
More theoretically, I repeat over and over that you can only spend money once. I talk about values. A new car drops in value as soon as you buy it. A used car’s value is more stable.
The crux of what I try to teach my kids is that saving money is more valuable than spending. However, a little indulgence is fine. It’s a balancing act.
Please leave me a comment if you would like to hear more about teaching kids about realistic money values and practices.