Financial consciousness

It’s spring-cleaning time!  Hooray!  Out with the old and in with the new.  Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and leafing out, and my husband and I are taking a good hard look at our finances.  Ouch.

I don’t know about you, but becoming aware of exactly what is happening in my financial life is challenging for me.  Recording my spending and then analyzing it is frightening.  Creating and sticking to a budget feels foreign, and planning our financial future feels like sitting at the bottom of a very deep well and inching my way up brick by brick.  And then there’s the issue of increasing our income and decreasing our bottom line.  So now I’m hyperventilating.  Well, not really, but you get my point.

But the thing is, if we don’t pay attention to our finances, we will continue to live paycheck to paycheck, never really saving for our future, and as retirement approaches we’ll be up a creek without a paddle.  On the other hand, if we take a good look at our finances and bring the light of awareness to our earning, spending, saving and such, we actually have the ability to set goals and strive for them.

And if there’s one thing I know from years and years of personal development, it’s that setting a goal is the quickest way to make a change.  When we strive for things, we can often achieve much more than we would otherwise.

Now here’s the kicker, if we turn away from the responsibility of our financial future, we’re not just hurting ourselves anymore, we’re hurting our children too.  And not just because we can’t provide the things we want to give them.  I mean sure, it’ll be nice to know that we can actually afford to buy our kids healthy food and fun toys, or maybe we plan to save up for their college education.  But the real disservice comes in our children’s dysfunctional relationship to money.

We are always teaching our kids.  No matter how much we’d like to pretend they’re not learning things unless we intend to teach them, the truth is, they’re absorbing our relationship to money.  They will use our financial health as a template on which to build their own beliefs about money.

That’s not to say that they’ll be the same as we are.  Some kids grow up in poverty, don’t like it, and go on to become millionaires.  Others grow up in decadence, never learning the value of hard work or the need to earn money, and end up in poverty.  Still others consciously choose one road or the other, or something in between.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we have a unique opportunity to help our children develop a healthy relationship to money.  But first, we have to start by healing our own relationships to it.  After we’ve examined our thoughts, beliefs, and actions around money and taken responsibility for our finances, we can teach our children to do the same.

I’m guessing we’ve all had the experience of telling our children no when they ask for something in line at the grocery store.  But I’m curious how we will tell them no and what message about money they will get from that.  Is it because “we can’t afford it” or because “we don’t choose to spend our hard earned money on candy” or will we remind them of that great vacation we’re saving up for?  I wonder how we can make our conversations about money inspiring, informative, and age appropriate for our children.

This week, take a good hard look at your financial wellbeing.  Are there areas that need your attention?  If all that’s already handled (is it ever really all handled?), then set some financial goals.  Finally, ask yourself, how will I teach my children about the beauty, wonder, and challenges of money this week?

Love to you all, Shelly

2 comments
Jim
Jim

I think you answered your own question. "We are always teaching our kids. No matter how much we’d like to pretend they’re not learning things unless we intend to teach them, the truth is, they’re absorbing our relationship to money." That means the important lessons isn't taught at the check out counter when the kid wants a candy bar. The important lesson is taught in the store when you are making decisions about your purchases. If they see you making hard decisions and giving up something you want because you're being thrifty, that's where the lesson is taught. If they see you comparison shop to stay within a budget, that's where the lesson is taught.

And remember, the true value of a lesson is only truly apparent years later when your child is on their own and making decisions without your help. They might go years without budgeting but the important thing is that you have shown them it's possible (and even rewarding). When the time comes to budget, they'll know it can be done. They can figure out the rest (or maybe even ask how you managed it).

Christee
Christee

Wow! That's some post today. One of the ways I found to teach my children about money, was to give them opportunities to work for money at home. They had assigned chores, and then "earned" an allowance. There were also some requirements on the spending of the allowance. Part was to save (for larger, planned expenditures), part was to give (to a cause of their choice), and part was to use as they chose. My son chafed at the requirement to write down his purchases, so he'd know where he was spending his money. My daughter learned (eventually) that name brands weren't always a requirement. Our children learned that we expected them to be able to manage their finances and make responsible choices. My kids are grown now and I'm very proud of them for the choices they've made. And, I'm convinced that they have the tools to take control of their financial lives.

Trackbacks

  1. […] behaviors and might even be linked to reduced drug use in teens and young adults. If you caught my blog about a conscious relationship to money, you know that delay of gratification is also a great asset […]

  2. […] 3)   Find new ways to save money and make wise long term financial decisions […]