3 Money Lessons I Want My Kids to Learn from Me

April 4, 2018

3 Money Lessons I Want My Kids to Learn from Me

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and of course, it makes me think of (and regret) just how financially illiterate I’ve been for a good part of my adult life.

Money lessons (at least intentional ones) were not a part of my education growing up—whether formal or at home. And the financial mistakes I’ve made continue to impact me to this day.

But regret is not productive, right? So instead of only reflecting on what I wish I knew and what I should have done differently, I try to focus on the present and the future. I remind myself that my financial ignorance can stop with me and doesn’t have to pass down to future generations of my family.

And that is my determination.

When I think about the specific things I wish I knew about money before entering the real world, they are numerous. I wish I knew about budgeting, the importance of saving and investing, the magic of compound interest, how to spend wisely, how debt worked, and several other crucial money lessons.

And those are some of the things I am intentional about teaching my children now. But besides the practical, there are a few overarching themes and money principles that I want my kids to know.

Here they are.

1. Money Doesn’t Equal Happiness

I do not want my kids thinking they would be happy if they only had more money. If they only had a bigger house. If they only drove that car. If they only could vacation there. If, if, if…

We, adults, get caught up in this thinking all the time—and we act on it. I want my children to know their happiness comes from within (and above) and they can choose to be happy regardless of what they have, what they drive, what they wear, and where they live.

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2. Stuff is…Just Stuff

I want my kids to be intentional and aware of their accumulation of things.

I recently came across a Christmas video from when my oldest (now 21) was five years old. The floor was covered, (literally) with presents and wrapping paper.

We had only one child at the time, but we went completely overboard that Christmas. There was a computer and tons of toys and crafts—most of which my son didn’t even ask for. We just felt this need to supply him with stuff, Stuff, STUFF.

Seeing that video makes me sick. I’m happy to say our Christmases look a bit different but they still involve stuff, and sometimes it still feels like too much.

Stuff gets old. Stuff breaks. Stuff goes out of style. Relationships, experiences, health, well-being, generosity, and so much else is more important than things.

Stuff will have a place in my kids’ lives, but I hope it won’t be a place of priority.

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3. Their Self Worth is Not Tied to Their Net Worth

Confession…I want my kids to be millionaires. And they very well can be if they choose to live within their means and save and invest at an early age.

That may or may not happen. But whether or not it does, I want my children to know that who they are is not related to how much they have in their bank account.

If they do reach millionaire status, my hope is it will have absolutely no bearing on how they see themselves and others. And if they don’t, I hope that they realize their confidence, value, and place in this world are independent of their net worth.

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Being Intentional

I could go on and on about all the money principles we should teach our children. But the bottom line is I want my kids to have an intentional and healthy relationship with money.

My children don’t always listen to me (shocker), and they may grow up to make money mistakes of their own.

But it is my job to make sure those mistakes aren’t a result of ignorance or having a poor model. I am far from perfect on both accounts but am determined to do my best.

When it’s all said and done, I hope these three money lessons are instrumental in shaping their relationship with money.

What are some money lessons you want your kids to learn?