Kids are truly one of the greatest wonders in the world. They are often more resilient and tougher than we give them credit for being. They embrace what we expect them to dislike and revolt against ideas we thought they would love. This is why I always recommend starting money talks early. Your kids are more receptive and less likely to have any money bias. Of course, whether they are young or old, you will find occasional resistance or non-interest, no matter what you do.
Monday I went back to basics and shared how I taught my girls to give their money purpose through goal-setting. Money is something that is highly coveted by the young and old, but we forget that money’s true value comes from how we use it. After all, money is just paper.
My girls have always been receptive to setting save, spend and share goals, but I know from talking to other parents that isn’t always the case. Today, I’d like to tackle some of the more common problems parents face and how to solve them.
Scenario #1: Kids Set Goals but Only Want to Spend Money
First, don’t panic. This is a common issue. Saving and sharing money are new concepts to them and some kids simply have a harder time embracing them. That said, it doesn’t mean they won’t. You just need to give them a little extra help.
- Don’t force the issue. When kids feel bullied into saving or sharing their money, they resent having to do so. You want to make saving and sharing something they look forward to doing on their own.
- Push the pause button on their individual save, spend and share goals and instead focus attention on the family goals. Being able to experience goal achievement as a family first can make a big difference. They see how good it feels to achieve goals and give to others. My youngest daughter, Taylor, did not want to share initially, but after seeing how much her big sister loved it and experiencing how good it felt to give as a family, she got on board quickly.
- Talk to them. It’s possible the goals they originally set aren’t their “true” goals. Have them set revised goals and see if their interest is renewed.
Success Tip: Make sure your child is old enough and ready to set individual goals. I suggest they be at least six years old. I also recommend that before you have your children set individual save, spend and share goals that they first experience goal-setting as a family.
Scenario #2: Kids Keep Changing Goals
This is understandably frustrating, but it happens frequently, especially when kids are new to setting goals. They are still figuring out what they truly want.
- Help them identify what THEY want for themselves, not what the media tells them they want, what their friends want or what you want for them. Kids tend to default to what others tell them that they should want, without really wanting it themselves.
- Let them change goals. Goals are not etched in stone. Our goals should reflect what your kids want and sometimes those change, plain and simple. Goals lose their ability to appropriately influence decisions when we no longer want them, so if your kids lack motivation, there is a good chance they need to reconsider their goals.
Scenario #3: Kids Keep Getting Sidetracked by Other Wants
We know kids have short attention spans and move quickly from one thing to another. Even when they have picked goals they truly want, it’s still easy for them to get sidetracked, especially if they are quite young.
- Be prepared for them to find other things they want. This will happen ALL THE TIME. And it’s okay. Do not make them feel bad for wanting things. Wanting is normal. What matters is learning how to handle their wants.
- Walk them through the process of what to do when they find something else they want. To ask themselves, “Does this bring me closer or further away from my goals?”
- Let them make mistakes. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to watch our kids make a mistake, but sometimes they need to experience it firsthand before they understand. I’d rather deal with tears over a $50 mistake today than the tears of a 25-year-old who made $5,000 mistake.
Success Tip: I taught my girls when they are making choices with how to use their money to also consider how good it makes them feel. Does it make their heart happy? And they really took that lesson to heart (pun intended!). Comparing items to see which one really makes them happy helps them feel confident about their decision. They also consider how long it will keep them happy. An item that won’t keep their heart happy for very long but has a high price-tag, is something they know to avoid.
Scenario #4: Kids Still Want Me to Buy Them Everything
Most parents hope by teaching kids about money that it signals the end of the “I wants” and being asked to buy things. I’m not sure if kids ever stop asking because you might just say “yes” one day. Understand that your child asking you to buy them something they want doesn’t mean goal-setting isn’t working.
- Be consistent with your “no” and explain the “why” behind it. I remind the girls that we’re saving our family money for our vacation, but also give them the option to use their money to buy the item if it’s something they truly want. These days, I can just ask them if we’re really going to do the “I wants” now. They start laughing and we move on.
- Give them opportunities to earn additional money. Your kids may feel as though they cannot fund their goals in a timely fashion, which is why they resort to asking you to buy them things. They need opportunities to earn money. You can pay them for completing additional tasks at home or help them find ways to earn money from others. Most of the time, when the girls find something they want but cannot afford, they don’t ask me to buy it. Instead they ask me to post more jobs so they can earn more money.
Success Tip: It’s perfectly fine to buy your child the occasional I love you gift. In fact, it’s one of the great privileges of being a parent! But make sure you buy gifts mindfully and on your terms, not because your money is at the beck and call of your child. There is a difference.
Scenario #5: Kids Don’t Want to Set Goals
Occasionally parents struggle to get their kids to even set goals. Here are a few reasons why that might happen and what you can do to shift their mindset.
- They are too young. I recommend kids be at least six years old before they set individual goals. And I believe kids, regardless of age, should start with supporting family save, spend and share goals before moving on to individual goals. Let them experience victory as a family first.
- They are used to YOU buying them whatever they wanted. It’s a good gig while it lasts. And they don’t want it to end. This is where you need to stand firm. Don’t succumb to tears or fall back into old habits. Make it clear that goal-setting isn’t punishment, but something we do to help identify what we want and then get it.
- They don’t understand why goals matters. Demonstrate this to them. Set your own personal save, spend and share goals. Talk about them frequently. And when you have saved enough money to buy your save goal, invite them with you to purchase the item. Let them see your excitement and joy. They will want to experience it themselves.
Patience Will Be Rewarded
Above all, be patient. It takes time. For some kids, this is a whole new way of thinking. Some kids adapt better to change, than others. And that’s okay. Don’t force it, but let them see what a positive impact goals have on you as a family and individually. Kids by nature mimic what they see. So if they see how goals makes your life better and are worth the hard work, then they will want to set their own save, spend and share goals.
The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.