Teaching Our Kids About Money

Teaching Our Kids the Financial Facts of Life

Earl "Butch" Graves Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprise

Every parent wants to support his or her child’s dreams and aspirations. Most have worked hard to provide their children with the best of everything–access to a quality education, exposure to a variety of experiences and cultures, and, yes–the ability to enjoy creature comforts we couldn’t even fathom at their age. I don’t believe you should feel guilty for trying to enrich the lives of your offspring. But to put it bluntly, many of us have spoiled our kids and have not prepared them for the real world. That’s why today’s harsh economic climate offers an invaluable opportunity to deliver life lessons they will not learn in the classroom.

The first lesson: give them a greater appreciation for the value of money in this tight economy. Too often we feel the need to shelter our children from the challenges we face–including the sacrifices that make it possible for them to live in a comfortable home or attend the best schools. Share the importance of budgeting as well as the folly of wasteful spending. And by all means, do not become a human ATM, accommodating every whim–a point I’ve repeatedly made clear to my four teenagers.

As part of the second lesson, encourage them to be active participants in their own future growth and development. For instance, these young, able-bodied men and women shouldn’t view summer months as a time of fun and frolic. During their break, they should climb out of bed early each morning to work at internships, gaining experience in their chosen profession, or at jobs earning money to help pay for a portion of their social activities.

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