Will Your 35 Year Old Kids Be Living in Your Basement?
As a 5-year old child I can vividly remember asking my parents if we had enough money to pay bills, and get food. Not because we ever lacked the ability to pay our bills or buy food, but because things were tight and I had enough sense to be concerned about our financial matters. Now, people who know me best often joke that I still have the first nickel I ever earned saved somewhere for a rainy day.
One thing is for certain; I don’t want my kids to grow up without the ability to be savers and givers, and the responsibility of teaching kids proper stewardship falls squarely in the lap of parents. This is a responsibility that, sadly, many parents neglect and conclude their kids eventually will learn.
Don’t be so sure. I taught money management to high school juniors and seniors for a time, and I was amazed at what they didn’t know. They didn’t know how to balance a check book. They didn’t know how to write a check. They didn’t know you have to pay back the money you put on a credit card! And these are students preparing for college.
Dave Ramsey is a financial guru with years of experience. More importantly he knows what it is like to be wealthy, lose it all in bankruptcy, then claw his way back to the top stronger than ever. Now Dave Ramsey is a debt-free multi-millionaire that spends his time teaching others the principles needed to have “Financial Peace.”
In a recent article called “The Art of Raising a Money Superstar,” Dave shares some practical wisdom on how to raise your children to be proper, Biblical stewards of their God-given resources. Dave says;
Most of our money mistakes are due to lack of education. Did your parents take time to teach you about how money works? Even if they did, you’ve probably discovered some holes they glazed over and thought in disbelief, How did they forget to teach me that? You can stop that cycle by teaching your kids—no matter what age—how to handle money with success.”
He goes on to share such insights as paying your kids a commission for chores they perform around the house, open a checking account for your teenager and teach him how to use it, and discuss major purchases with your college-age child before they are made. These are great tips that will set a foundation of open communication and accountability.
Another important thing to remember is that actions have consequences. Your kids don’t need you to bail them out if they make a financial mistake; they need you to support them as they face the consequences. Bailing your kids out will only create spoiled, entitled kids; something the world doesn’t need more of. Making your kids face consequences will teach them a lesson that is sure to last a lifetime; but be sure to stick with them through it all and let them know you love them regardless. On this point Dave says;
“If you buy your kids whatever they want, you’re not teaching them to be anything but spoiled. The world doesn’t work that way, and they could end up living in your basement when they’re 35 if you don’t set limits and say no once in a while…When your kids spend their money, you don’t have to allow them to buy the latest junk they see advertised on TV. Part of being a good money manager is making wise purchasing decisions. And you have every right to deny purchases of music, video games, etc. you don’t approve of.”
You see, while we can’t bail our kids out of every mess they find themselves in, we can be there to parent them. This does not mean being their “friend” all the time, it means being there to guide them through wise counsel, loving rebuke, and at times by simply saying no. Sure, they might not like when we do it, but one day they will look back with gratitude for our wisdom and guidance.
And what is the payoff for all this hard work teaching our kids how to be proper stewards? According to Dave:
“For all your efforts, what will you get? You’ll get a responsible adult, who knows how to manage his money, how to live on what he makes, isn’t afraid to work, and has a generous spirit. In other words, it’s totally worth it.”
But, like I’ve been saying, we must model the characteristics and qualities we want to see in our kids. If they hear us talk about being financially responsible but see us make unwise decisions that put financial burden on the family they will ignore us as hypocrites; and rightfully so. This means we might need to learn some better financial habits. We might even have to return our latest “toy,” or cancel that unnecessary golf trip in order to get a handle on some debt.
In the end though the hard work and sacrifice will be worth it when our kids thank us for setting an example they could be proud of and seek to emulate. That’s better than an 80 inch flat screen any day.
Check out these other resources from financial guru Dave Ramsey for you and your kids: