Smart Money Conversations, Part 1: Kids

Smart Money for Kids

It’s a great perk living in Florida and having the world’s happiest place on earth within driving distance. So when my mom came to visit shortly after a recent visit to the mickey mecca, she curiously asked my son about his trip. The conversation went something like this:

Nana: How was your stay at the Cars hotel?

My 4 year old’s response: We only stayed one night because it was too much money.

My jaw dropped. BUZZKILL. Really? Didn’t he love sleeping in a Cars bed? Didn’t he love walking around Radiator Springs? Nope! I thought to myself (and aloud to him), thaaaat’s the highlight of your trip?! I thought he would relive his memorable one-night stay in Radiator Springs, so I was confused for a moment by his response. But it didn’t take me that long to recall the conversations we had before bed in the weeks leading up to our trip.

The talks where I was trying to explain to him in the simplest of terms the value of money. The fact that not every kid would go to Disney. That it was a privilege to do the things we were doing. That mommy goes to work to make money and we have to pick and choose how we spend it. And the fact that we were staying at the Art of Animation Hotel for one night because it’s expensive. {After all, park-hopping for 2 days back to back doesn’t require a fancy hotel. We just need the basics and by the way even with the resident rate, Disney is STILL expensive!}

Happy kid at the Art of Animation!

Happy kid at the Art of Animation!

After further reflection on this moment, I realized he actually did listen and take away what I had hoped from our pre-vacay conversations. He understood (or at least remembered) that there was a reason we only stayed there one night. And so it begins the responsibility of a parent to instill values and teach life skills to their kids.

While I love that my kids get to experience Disney, I also want them to realize it’s not something we’ll be doing every day. Growing up out of state I was very fortunate to experience Disney annually during my childhood. The magic began from the moment we set foot on the tram headed towards the Magic Kingdom. There’s something very sacred about Disney and I intend on keeping it that way for my kids. And along with that comes a great lesson in saving money!

For me, managing finances and being smart about spending & saving is one of those important life skills. Like many, I learned this the hard way post-college with too many credit cards and debt I wasn’t prepared to pay off. Anyone remember those credit card applications tucked into college books? Ugh, I should have thrown them away! Or at least be more disciplined about what I could spend and pay it off. So I’m taking my lessons learned and turning them into teachable moments for my kids. Anything from spending to saving to the value of money.

Next time the opportunity arises to chat about finances with your kids… take it! Here are a couple of tips to help you get started:

  • Keep it simple. Sometimes we overcomplicate the lessons, so teach a little at a time and let them absorb what you’re trying to teach.
  • Teach in the moment. Talk real-time about what’s happening in the next couple of days or weeks.
  • Start now. Whether it’s buying a piggy bank or talking about saving & spending, don’t delay!

Some might think I’m taking away all the fun… but I don’t think so. My kids are still having a great time, but are also learning the value of money and important life skills they’ll need later in life.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about money smart families and how I went from DINK (dual income no kids) to SICK (single income couple with kids).

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