Basic Financial Education for Kids


When I was growing up, money meant security. I grew up with the fear of not having enough, not because there wasn’t enough but because that was the gist of my parents’ conversations around money. I learned that you needed to get a good job, which meant one that paid well. Even though I was a fairly talented musician, this meant that a career in the arts was certainly out.

When I was growing up, I also had positive experiences with money. My parents balanced their checkbook every week in full view of the kids. I got an allowance and learned how to save money and spend money in a sensible manner. Eventually, I got a succession of part-time jobs that taught me how to be an employee and what to do with money that I earned.

What are you teaching your children about money? As the parent of a small child, this is what I’d like her to know after her first 10 years.

When you have money, you spend some, you save some, and you give some. This was my philosophy as a child and it is my philosophy today. You do not spend all of your money, because then you have nothing to rely on.

Pay things off right away and save for what you need. Also, save money for a rainy day, since you never know when those days might come.

You can build a business and be an entrepreneur. It’s not actually that hard. You just need to start small and find something that works well for you. Entrepreneurship doesn’t need to be big and risky.

Passive income is a legitimate way to make money, even if it isn’t sexy. While owning real estate or getting money from royalties may not seem like a nine to five job, having multiple sources of income that don’t rely on nine to five work is good when you have small children or you’re sick. That way, your money keeps on working for you.

Diversity is good. It’s good to cultivate more than one source of income and more than one interest and passion. If you are blessed to have many skills, use them! That way it will be hard for you to be downsized, since you’ll always have a backup.

Back up plans are important, both in your career and in other elements that impact your financial life. I wasn’t a big proponent of health insurance until I suddenly needed it to a degree that could have been financially crippling if I did not have it.

Everyone can contribute, even if you have an illness or small children. You may not make money, but you may contribute in other ways: by making homemade meals, by being frugal, by doing side gigs.

Make and use money according to your ethics. Money is not an end in itself, it is the means to the life you want to live, whether that is a life of charity or a life with travel or any other life you might imagine.