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?
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Julie @ Run Away Freckles says
I think its great that you include her in your discussions and are planning on teaching her so much about money. Those are all positives for her future. But your plans are very extreme and you live on such a tight budget that she will probably suffer. So many things will be out of your budget that many life experiences might not go fulfilled. Balance is key.
Ali @ Anything You Want says
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’d say that, as long as you are not ‘obsessing’ about debt, this is a very good lesson for her. Sure, we’re not here to burden our children with such serious stuff, but they should hear at least some of our stories and learn from them.
Jen @ The Halfway Homemaker says
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.
Sara @Debt Camel says
I think it’s great for all children to hear things like “I’m not paying THAT much”, “It’s really lovely but I can’t afford that”, “I like it but I will have to save up to buy it” and “I’m taking this back and getting a refund.”
I am less convinced that a young child should hear adults argue about money or hear you discussing your budgets. The figures will be much too large for her to comprehend before she is in her teens.
It will also be hard to talk about the ambition of early retirement as well as making sure she grows up with a good work ethic.
[email protected] says
I am certain that my son benefited from being involved in us paying off our debt. We discussed things as family, we were creative as a family and we crushed the debt as family. One thing I believed though (and still do) is that the right thing to teach him through all this is how to spend money – if he learns that, saving, keeping and growing it will come on its own.
One thing to watch is over-doing it. Discussing money in front of your children is fine; discussing ONLY money is…well, limiting.
My children are older (three in college and two still at home), and they have GROWN UP in a home where finances were always an issue. I think in some ways it harmed them — when I was being overly anxious, for example, and became the finance nazi. “No, you can’t have new shoes even though yours have holes and your toes are crammed, because we need the money to pay off debt.” Okay, maybe I wasn’t THAT bad (although in all truth they often had to wait awhile for the shoes…sigh), but my husband had to pull me up short more than once and say that I was teaching the children to be anxious, too. Ouch. But needed. But I think on the whole it has been better for them than ignorance. They all DO NOT want to be in the position we’ve been in, and so they are very fearful of incurring debt. I’m definitely glad for that, because that is probably the biggest lesson I want them to learn. And surprisingly enough, I don’t think any of them resent us. If nothing else, being transparent in front of them showed them that life is often not predictable, so judging others is unfair. Most important, we’ve made sure that love flowed freely even when the finances didn’t. That has made up for a lot of our mistakes. <3