My experience as a single parent has made me more determined than I think I would otherwise be to make sure my children have a good understanding of personal and household finances when they embark out on their own. I am a bit of a zealot when it comes to talking about the details of money management and I think since I grew up in one of those household where we could never talk about money—I want to make sure my children have more of an open, informed attitude about finances.
The other day, one of my daughters and I had a long conversation about all the different ways there are to “do household finances” when there is a couple or more than one people living in a house. This is my eldest daughter who will be graduating from high school in just a few short months. I figured that while she has had her own bank account for a while and has managed her own money on a small scale, we haven’t really talked about how to communicate with another person about money, or even talked about the pros and cons of joint accounts, separate accounts, and or how to split up the electric bill. I couldn’t help but wonder if my example as a single parent might have skewed her understanding of such things.
The conversation reminded me just how important it is for us single parents to get comfortable talking about money and managing our money to the best of our abilities. As I mentioned earlier, I did NOT grow up with that comfort and I am still learning. I am definitely not a wheeler and dealer and I just don’t make enough money to be a huge financial threat, but I have felt at a disadvantage since I have had to learn on my own, trial by fire. I tend to keep my finances rather simple, mostly because I am still learning how to maneuver. BUT, I do want more for my children and I take my job seriously—I try to share my mistakes, caution them against the pitfalls, explain different types of accounts and financial “products”—etc. I think that even if we haven’t figured everything out ourselves as single parents, or we don’t have a great many assets or an easy comfort-level with financial things, we can still teach and learn with our children. It takes making the decision to get over our insecurities though and being committed to financial education.
This does NOT mean sharing “grown up” worries and financial stresses with our young children. There is a difference between teaching our children about checking and savings accounts and making them feel responsible or worried about our current financial concerns!