How do your kids get their crazy ideas about money? Do they think money grows on trees, or that your bills pay themselves? Do they think that credit cards are for shopping, when you don’t have any money?
If you ever wondered where kids get their crazy ideas about money from, then you may be surprised by the results of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2012 Financial Literacy Survey. The survey reports that, for better or worse, children learn financial skills and pick up many of their habits and beliefs about money from their parents.
That’s Right—They Got Their Crazy Ideas About Money From YOU
According to the NFCC’s survey, 44% of Americans indicated that they learned the most about personal finance from their parents or at home. By contrast, only 10% said they learned their financial skills at school—which is actually not surprising, given the lack of financial education in our schools.
Of those who compared their adult financial behavior to their parents’, 12% embraced habits that were the opposite of their parents, while 9% adopted behaviors that were very similar. Thirty-five percent indicated that their approach to finance was a blend of their parents’ and their own attitudes.
Raising Money-Smart Children Starts With YOU
The lesson here is that, if you want your children to make responsible financial decisions in adulthood, you have to model that behavior now. Our kids get most of their crazy ideas and beliefs about money not from what we tell them, but from what we show them with our own financial choices and behaviors.
You also need to make a conscious effort to impart age-appropriate financial skills to your children. Again, you need to model that behavior by pursuing your own financial education. Your kids and other young people within your sphere of influence need to see you reading books about money and finance, visiting financial blogs and websites, using budgeting and finance apps, and watching business and financial programming on television.
Be About—and Talk About—It
Challenging and changing your kids’ crazy ideas about money also means doing something that may have always been a taboo in your family—talk openly and often about money. By actively teaching money lessons to your children, you may also improve your own financial literacy and money habits.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.