Last week, I asked you all some very important parenting questions:
As a parent, one of my foremost priorities is making sure that I raise my daughter to be more than a productive member of society: I want her to be better than me.
Now, I realize that I’m a fairly new parent, and I didn’t exactly have the greatest role models, but I’m trying. One of the things The Big Guy and I are being honest about our struggle with debt – and the consequential debt payoff struggle. Right now, she’s too young to comprehend the massive amount of debt we’re paying off, but still, we make it a point to:
- Be honest about our debt, with each other, and on the blog
- Talk freely about finances in front of her
- Not be afraid to say “That’s not in the budget” when it comes to purchasing things
Think of it like this: Some parents try and create an open atmosphere to talk about things like sex & drugs, and while we’re all for that, we’re adding finances to that list. So many people that I connect with tell me that their parents didn’t talk about money, so they had no clue when they were thrown out into the adult work.
Believe, me, I feel ya…
We all have things that we wish we could have changed about our parents, and all we can do is try and recover from those failings and teach our children better….which is why we talk about money all the time. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
And yes, we even argue about finances in front of her. We try to not get too loud, but we do argue because normal couples argue. It’s not all sunshine and roses, folks.
As she gets older we have plans to incorporate her into budgeting, paying off debt, and of course celebrating our debt payoff successes, which makes me wonder:
Is our Debt payoff struggle good for her?
As she sees us struggle to pay off debt, to stick to a budget, and as she learns what it’s like both living with debt and without debt, will she learn from it? When she has children (God help me….grandchildren…. #notforanother30years ) will she teach them the evils of living outside of their means, and leave the conversation surrounding finances in her own house open and honest someday?
Or, will she resent us for it?
Readers, help me out, please! Do you think our debt payoff struggle is good for her, or bad for her?
I am delighted to report that you guys had some amazing answers on both ends of the spectrum:
Julie, from Run Away Freckles pointed out that it is good to include kids in discussion about money. But, she emphasized balance. Right now, we live on a pretty tight budget, and our daughter may suffer. She is completely right. I hope that once we pay off all of our debt we’ll be able to loosen the budget and afford her more experiences than we can right now.
Ali from Anything You Want had a great experience to share: “My parents were relatively open about their money choices and living a frugal life, which I think had a very positive impact on me. There were certainly times I resented it, mostly when it meant that I couldn’t have everything I wanted, as an adult I recognize that it is because of this that I myself am on a sound financial footing.” I think her perspective is great, because even though its tough right now, sometimes going through the hard stuff makes you tough for the future.
Finally, Jen from The Halfway Homemaker had some great things to say, but I’ll leave it in her words:
I think you need to be honest about money. Money was such a struggle in our household, and my parents had unhealthy relationships with it. It was fairly obvious growing up that money was an issue, but they lived like yuppies. Then my parents divorced when I was 14, and I got a taste of what it was like not to go on fancy trips all the time and spend outside of our means. It was sobering.
When I was on my own for the first time, I made a lot of financial mistakes. But I met a great guy who didn’t have a lot growing up, had his own issues with money as a young adult, and figured out how to get out of that cycle. It has taken years, but we are financially stable, and both have a healthy(ish) relationship with money.
I think not having the conversations, understanding that you can’t have everything you want, and budgeting are important for kids to see. That way they don’t spend years (or a lifetime, in some cases) stumbling through trying to figure it out.
We talk about money almost daily. We don’t always like having the conversation, but really, it is necessary. Your kids pick up on it when you don’t talk about it and money comes from the magic money fairy. They get really confused when their bank account doesn’t magically refill every week.
Jen’s answer was my favorite because it was so unbelievably honest. Managing money is hard, but the keys are honesty and communication.
Well said, Jen :-)
Readers, anything else you would add?
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Ali @ Anything You Want says
Thanks for sharing my thoughts :-)
I just stumbled across this blog post looking for another person’s blog I’d read but forgot to save, and while I realize this post is older, I couldn’t resist commenting.
I can’t remember explicit conversations about money with my parents, but I remember always being pretty aware of our finances. Maybe I was intuitive (I knew my parents had all three of us kids by their mid-twenties, I knew we rented a house from my grandma, I knew how much our dance lessons were because the dancers were sent home with the monthly bulletin from the studio with pricing information, etc…) or maybe it was explicit (that’s not in the budget type talk).
It was very good, invaluable really, in some ways: I knew the value of a dollar, I learned how to balance a check book, I started a savings account in high school when I got my first job, etc…
It was stressful in other ways. I’ve always been very sensitive to how people are feeling and what’s going on around me, so while I was fiercely independent and outwardly happy, I had a tendency to worry and be anxious. I wouldn’t ask for things because “I knew” we couldn’t afford them, I worried about what would happen if my grades weren’t perfect and I couldn’t get a scholarship, etc… My parents would very rightly tell you (and often told me) that I didn’t need to worry, I could always ask, we were doing fine, etc… but my awareness with my personality made things a little harder. In that sense, I wish I’d been a bit more in the dark.
In retrospect, I am still very grateful for how I was raised in terms of money though. Plus, I KNOW my parents’ are rock stars when it comes to money, budgeting, and financial savviness. :)
And know that every kid is different too – my siblings had different experiences with it though. I don’t think they ever worried… but they both learned different things and different speeds when it came to money.