Financial Literacy Month: Creating Financially ‘Chill’ Kids

Financial Literacy Month: Creating Financially ‘Chill’ Kids

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As I was driving my son to school this morning, we were listening to one of his favorite radio stations.  One of my favorite things about our morning drive is that at 9-years-old, he still doesn’t realize it can be embarrassing to sing really loud.

[Related: 5 Ways for Single Moms to Make Extra Money]

Today he was singing along at ‘top volume’ a song I’d never heard before by Lunch Money Lewis called “Bills to Pay.”


There’s no way around it, this song is adorable, and an uplifting way to start the day.   It was, however, interesting to hear my son repeat the chorus over and over again like it was a mantra.

“I got Bills I gotta pay
So I’m gonna’ work, work, work every day
I got mouths I gotta feed
So I’m gonna’ make sure everybody eats
I got Bills”

While catchy and cute, these lyrics could definitely lay the groundwork for the belief that work and money are a struggle for survival.  I gained a deep understanding of what a big role these early mechanisms play in adult attitudes when doing research for my book on financial behavior, The True Cost of Happiness: The Real Story Behind Managing Your Money. The brain latches on to these early messages.  If we don’t catch them, we unconsciously play them out as adults, without it even occurring to us that we can make different choices.

“Those deep imprints influence every decision we make, and we use them as a reference point,”  Susan Galvan, co-founder of The Kinder Institute of Life Planning, told me while I was doing my research. “We simply filter information through the mechanisms we developed as a child,” Galvan adds.

Whether you feel it’s important for your child to think of bills as a chore or privilege, get real about the fact that they are constantly learning about money from somewhere.  Unfortunately, more are learning about it from pop culture, friends, and the Internet than they are from their parents.

In a study by T.Rowe Price, 41% of parent say they sometimes avoid talking to their kids about money.

Not only do many of us adults still battle with generational conditioning that tells us “don’t talk to kids about money,” but many of us simply don’t know what to do or what to say…we don’t have much role-modeling in this area.

BE is here to help as we put a special focus on  financial education during financial literacy month. This is the first story in a 4-part guide to teach you age appropriate activities that will help your child develop a healthy relationship with money.   This piece focuses ages 4 to 8.  The other stories will take you all the way through age 18.  Please be sure to tweet me your comments and feedback at @stisdale1.

Enjoy the slideshow which begins on the next page to help you create a ‘financially chill’ kid.