I love being a mom of an almost seven-year-old, but there are times where the constant drilling of “Why do we do what we do?” and “Why do we say what we say?” can be challenging. Especially when it comes to money.
Because I’ll be frank — there just ain’t a lot of it right now.
We’re trying. We are. We’re both working our butts off. We’re trying desperately to get to a place where we can relax and breathe, but most days money is just a cloud that hangs over us and limits so much of what we can do.
Which brings me back to my little girl.
How do you explain to your children why you can’t do things or have things without casting a dark money shadow over their innocent lives?
Today I want to share a few NEW and creative techniques that we are using to help our children understand money (or the lack thereof) without focusing on the negative or wallowing in our FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
#1. Watch Your Mouth
Most resources insist on using creative ways to talk about money without saying “it’s too expensive” or “we can’t afford that.” I’m the worst about using these phrases, and I hate that my kids are bumping up against this reality every. single. day. Replacing them with phrases like “we don’t need that right now” or “I would rather use our money on something else” has seemed to help. Any fresh ideas are welcome!
#2. Invite Them to Your Office
It is so important to teach your children about the value of hard work, the joy of doing a job you love, and the tangible benefits of each. One of my part-time jobs right now is teaching English to Chinese students! I LOVE it. I’m using my skills, interacting with a part of the world that is dear to my heart, AND I’m making extra money for our family. My girl knows that most mornings I teach classes before I wake her up to go to school. We often talk about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Sometimes she even gets to see me in action. I want her to know that money doesn’t grow on trees. We work for it, and sometimes that work can be fun!
#3. Show Them How to Use Money
Nothing teaches children better than letting them do it themselves. Currently, my girl has Christmas money that is BURNING A HOLE IN HER POCKET!! But she has learned more about money in the last month than she has learned in her whole life. She has weighed her desire for different toys, experienced the disappointment of not having enough to buy something, and grappled with the reality that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. It’s not a vague, abstract story of Daddy’s bank account. It’s real money. In her hands. That has a limit. Which leads me to my next point…
#4. Let Them Choose – Needs vs. Wants
Learning to weigh the choices we make financially is so important (and so frustrating). I try to practice this concept with my daughter when she asks why we cannot do something. (And it’s good practice for me, too!) Just this week she was asking if we were going to a school event, so I got out the flyer and showed her the ticket prices. Then we added up how much it would cost for our family to go. It came to about $30. I told her that we could spend that $30 on this event, but if we did then we couldn’t buy the groceries that we needed for her lunches next week. I let her make the choice…thankfully she chose food.
#5. Help Them Fall in Love with FREE Things
Finally, the greatest step in teaching our kids about money is showing them that the best things in life have nothing to do with money at all. Playing games. Being with family. Going to the park. Watching a movie on the couch. Having a picnic. Planning a playdate with a friend. Cuddling on the couch. Reading a book. Painting! Giggling! Building a fort! Exploring in the woods! Free. Free. Free. Free. There’s no room for FOMO when you’re having fun with the people you love…and truly, the best things in life are free.