Many parents wonder when and how to begin teaching their children about money, but what they don’t realize is that they’re already teaching their kids every day with their own actions and words.
Everything a parent says, does and feels about money is taught to your child on a subconscious level. I typically coach parents to be very careful with the words they use around their children.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly teaching kids what to believe about money, themselves, and the world with our actions, words, and behaviors around money. In helping thousands of people with their money mindsets, here are the top 3 lies parents teach their kids about money….
#1 – “We Can’t Afford It”
Parents love using this phrase, but telling your kids you can’t afford it, is basically saying “We’re poor and that’s not going to change”. I know that’s not what you truly mean, but when a child doesn’t understand something, they’ll make sense of it by attaching their own belief around it – even if that belief isn’t true. This can become a subconscious belief they hold on to for decades.
Let’s say little Chris wants some Jordan sneakers that cost $125 – this is clearly not in your budget, plus you don’t see why you’d pay $130 for sneakers your kid will outgrow in a couple of months. So you brush it off and say “We can’t afford it”. When little Chris goes to school and sees a bunch of other kids with Jordans, he may think “They CAN afford it but I can’t. I’m not like them. I’m less than”.
But let’s be honest here, if little Chris needed an asthma pump that costs the same price, you could afford it. You’d find a way to afford it! So perhaps the statement shouldn’t be “We can’t afford it”, it could be “Jordans are not a priority at the moment”
Personally, when I was growing up, I heard “We can’t afford it” so much that I began to believe I could never be “one of them” – one of the rich kids. Over time, it built a subconscious belief that low income was where “I belonged”. It took me decades to break that in order to be successful. Don’t do that to your children.
#2 – Money Brings Problems
First off, don’t ever say this to your kids. Just don’t. Money doesn’t bring problems. Money is a beautiful tool that can be used for wonderful things like vacations, schooling, food, housing, birthday gifts, new technology…the list goes on. The problems around money are created by the humans dealing the money because they bring emotion to it. Money is an inanimate object and cannot be blamed for people’s poor choices around it. Period.
Perfect example: If you and your spouse argue about money in front of the kids or talk trash on the other – “Your mom’s always spending money like she’s married to Kanye” or “Your dad’s so cheap with his money”, you’re teaching your children to push money away in the future.
Your actions subconsciously teach them that money creates problems rather than peace. Because of this false belief, they’ll be afraid of making money or handling it because they’ve seen it create problems firsthand.
#3 – “Work Hard For Your Money”
This is one of the biggest lies about money I’ve heard. I’m sure you know many people that work 10 hour days laboring at a construction site or working overtime at a factory job and still don’t have enough money. On the other hand, there’s people that work 4 hour days and make 6 figures easily (I’m one of them). Do they work “hard” or “smart”? I’d say ‘smart’.
Teach your children how to think strategically, how to plan, how to find the right people and network. “But how do I teach them that money doesn’t come easy?” you ask. Telling them to work hard isn’t the answer, showing them that they create their future is more important. You can begin by making them earn what you give them. Allowance should be earned. Do they want new kicks when they have a closet full of shoes? Earn it.
When my son was about 12, he wanted a new gaming computer. “Whats wrong with the computer you have?” I asked. “It’s not for gaming,” he said. “Well, I don’t think it’s a priority but I tell you what, if you come up with half the amount needed for that computer, I’ll put in the other half” I said. “But I’m only 12, where am I going to get the money?” he asked with an attitude. “Get creative” I replied, and gave him some ideas to ponder.
Well, let me tell you – this kid wanted that computer so bad, that he bought water bottles, gatorades and brownie mix. Twice a week, he’d make a batch of brownies and sell them to the parents watching their kids play soccer in a nearby park.
The Gatorade and water bottles were chilled and right after school, he’d sell them to kids playing basketball in the summer heat. He had his half of the money in a matter of months and got his computer. He’s now 19 and remembers that as a fond memory. Why? Because he earned something and that makes him proud of himself. He made it happen. It didn’t come from mommy; it came from him, and that’s empowering.
Teach them the joy of saving for what they truly want, the pride of earning their desires, and the importance of investing in themselves. Most importantly, show them that their worth is not tied to their financial status but to their character, their choices, and their impact on the world around them.
* The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision. Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.