A few weeks ago, I volunteered at a summer camp serving refugee kids and it was art day. Over one hundred kids were doing an art project with shaving cream and food coloring. Imagine the chaos! All I could envision was scattered kids, swirling colors, shaving cream fights – inescapable mess!
Surprisingly, the scene I imagined didn’t happen.
Before beginning, the art teacher walked the kids through each step of the project giving detailed instructions, demonstrating how to spread out the shaving cream, designing a pattern by swirling drops of food coloring together. After pressing a piece of paper onto the design and scraping off the excess shaving cream, the result was a beautiful “marbled” piece of artwork.
She said, “Now I’ve taught you what to do and demonstrated it for you and so I’m trusting you to make good decisions with the art materials and use them the way I have shown you or there will be a consequence.” The consequence for poor decisions would be sitting out. The kids did not want to miss out on creating a masterpiece.
They did an amazing job!
The kids carefully spread the shaving cream in the pans, meticulously swirled the colors to make a beautiful design and carefully pressed the paper into the color to “marble” their artwork. I was impressed.
Why was it so impressive to me?
There was a plan of action, the kids were taught what to do, the project was modeled for them and they were prepared to create their artwork when it was their turn. Using this template for teaching kids (and perhaps a willing adult!) translates into many areas of life. Kids especially are like little sponges. They retain what we teach and especially model for them, and they need practice!
It’s no different with money.
We want to make wise decisions and we want the same for our kids and other family members. We want to have a sound plan rather than making hasty decisions and suffering the consequences. There are many ways we can engage our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews into conversations about making good decisions about money.
- Talk about the things you do with money. What is it used for? How is it earned? What is a need vs. a want? As you go grocery shopping or buy school supplies, plan for what you will buy, talk about what items cost and stick to your budget. There are endless opportunities to talk about needs vs. wants in everyday life. My four-year-old needs a new pair of shoes for school but wants gold sparkle dress up shoes!
- Put your teaching into practice so your kids can “see” you actively make decisions about sharing a portion of your money, saving a portion and spending a portion. These are the three options we all must weigh with the dollars we have. The amount of money is not the focus, but rather the concepts of the various ways we use money.
- SHARE: With whom do you share your money? Are there charities, non-profits or causes you support?
- SAVE: What is something you are saving money for? Do you have a special account to save for retirement, healthcare expenses or school for your kids or grandkids?
- SPEND: How do you plan for how much money to spend on something? Do you have an amount you spend each week on groceries for example?
- Start early with an allowance. Let your kids practice sharing a portion, saving a portion and spending a portion. You can even set up three jars labeled to help them “see” the three pots of money and talk about how they want to share, save and spend. Having many conversations and learning how to manage these decisions on a small scale will help them to be well-prepared as they go out on their own.
There is a true art to keeping our financial lives in balance. RGT offers deep knowledge and breadth of experience to give clients peace of mind as they navigate their financial worlds. RGT is committed to helping our clients make smart financial decisions, for this generation and the next.