As part of my job, working at a bank, we have been interviewing customers on their money management habits. We have specifically targeted customers between 20-35 years old as this is typically when they are starting to make larger financial decisions beyond savings and spending, like thinking of purchasing a property.
Whilst there are all different types of money management techniques people use, one thing came across strongly, that is there are those that are competent at money management and those that are not. Those that are competent know what it means to save, have ways of saving, have typically reached savings goals in the past and feel in control of their financial situation. Those that are not so competent tend to live from pay day to pay day, know they want to save for something but don't know where to begin and overall felt they were not in control and could be better using their money.
The key takeaway that I found most insightful though was that the ones that were competent money managers said this was taught to them by their parents. Their parents taught them what money was, what it meant to earn money and save it and sometimes how to invest. One customer quite clearly remembers having instilled in him "a penny earned is a penny saved".
Being a parent who wants to teach my children about money, this provided further validation as to why it is worth the time to teach them when they are young.
Our job as parents is to impart to our kids relevant information, skills and values. One of those skills is how to manage money. Unfortunately, we were probably never taught these things ourselves, as learning specifically about managing money was not part of the school curriculum - then or now. But even if we weren't taught about money, we've learnt through trial and error and have life lessons to pass on to our kids.
Whether it be the value of savings, highs and lows of investing or lessons learnt from having high credit card debt. These learnings need to be shared with your child. Talking about money shouldn't be taboo.
When your child starts to earn money, whether it be from chores around the house or a part-time job; start asking them questions about how do they feel to have some money, what excites them about it, are they afraid of it? This doesn't have to be time consuming or forced, just talk about it in regular conversation. Talking about it and having the opportunity to explain options, lessons learnt and tips is a great place to start.
Money isn't the answer to happiness - but if being comfortable with it opens opportunities and choices for your child, we're doing a good job.