My Mother’s Day, as most, was spent with family. Lots of running around from one place to another. Keeping kids happy and engaged. Eating way too much. But the part of Mother’s Day that I treasure most is when I get to sit alone in my room–full and happy–and taking the time to just stop and think. As a busy working mom, these moments are rare.
So this Mother’s Day, I started to think about my kids’ futures. I have a daughter graduating from college and two sons that are approaching their teenage years. Growing up, I didn’t receive much of an education about money management. So I wondered, had I provided my kids with the tools they need to navigate this far more sophisticated world?
Were they at least aware of the basics of spending wisely, saving, building credit, or investing in their futures?
Each of my kids seems to have different views about money. Was I giving them mixed messages?
As I sat there, I did what many do these days: I googled for solutions, explanations and fellow sympathizers. I found what I believe to be sound advice for every stage of financial literacy education. I’d like to share some of the information that I found particularly useful:
For my college graduate, I found a great article titled, “The College Graduate’s Guide to Managing Money and Debt.”1
It reviewed the essentials for getting in front of college debt and planning for the future.
- Get organized – literally, get all your information in one place so you know what you’re dealing with
- Be prepared to make those first payments.
- Look at your options for consolidations and tax breaks.
- Find resources to teach you about personal finance.
- A financial planner
- Create a budget, stick to it and save.
- Take your time with your future.
My teen takes a spend now/save later approach. A report from the FDIC outlines some fundamental factors about money management for teens.2 Because of advances in mobile technology and banking accessibility for parents, today’s teens may handle substantial amounts of money and have more opportunities to make financial decisions at a younger age. This guide outlines key financial concepts:
- Earning & saving money
- Keeping your money safe
- Spending wisely
- Aspects of borrowing
- Being smart about identity theft
- How to be more charitable
Funny enough, my youngest happens to be our most responsible money manager in the house. Money management seems to come naturally to him. A PBS Kids site, “It’s My Life,” takes a fun approach to teaching some serious topics:3
- Spending vs. Saving
- Needs vs. Wants
- Setting goals
- Expenses and cash flow
- A savings plan
What’s important, especially for a young audience, is to frame concepts into relatable and easily understood terms. Even members of the same family—raised by the same parents and sharing many of the same educators—can have different attitudes and perceptions toward money management.
Investing in yourself also means investing in the various pieces of your identity and the things that help define you. The defining aspects of my identity are wife, mother of three, and businesswoman. Like money management itself, this boils down to choices. But less visible is the importance of balance; just as a smart investor’s asset allocation will be well diversified, so too will a mother’s experience with her children’s financial literacy and education. Different kids will have different priorities and strengths and weaknesses. The older they get, the clearer this picture becomes.
It’s a relief to know that this information for our children is out there. It’s just a matter of communicating it effectively as parents.
So moms—tell me—have you had a money moment?