My last four or five articles have been about children and money. Those of you without kids might be annoyed by now but this is the last part of a long ride.
My little sister graduates from junior high school today. It seemed like only yesterday that I was changing diapers and teaching her how to spell her name. I’m happy that she’s not yet embarrassed to be seen with her *ahem* slightly older sister. Like all good big sisters, I’m giving her a graduation present. For me, that means $50, but that money also comes with a lesson.
I plan on giving her the $50 broken into five $10 bills. Once she gets all excited about having $50 I’ll promptly take $20 back for taxes and another $20 for savings, leaving her with $10. Am I just being mean? Nope, I’m teaching her a lesson.
Remember that term, “it takes a village to raise a child”? I’m a part of that a village called my family, and I feel that it is my responsibility to teach this particular kid about money, no matter how hard the lesson.
Some of you will rib me, and say, but it’s her graduation. Can’t you do this another time? Nope. She will begin high school in a few months, and this is a prime opportunity to get the idea of how one earns money and what happens to it drilled into her head before she begins the next phase of her life.
She has had previous lesson about money that were appropriate for her age. Every time someone gave her Christmas or birthday money, it was promptly deposited into her piggy bank. Watching the money go into the bank was fun for her. At around age 9 I took her and her little sleepover friend down to our local bank to open a custodial account. She was fascinated with the fact that kids could actually have bank accounts in their own names. I told her that not only could she put money into the bank, but that banks would actually give you free money called interest, if you had enough money in the bank. Her eyes were like saucers at the prospect of getting free money.
As I mentioned, I’ve been discussing money and kids at various stages of their lives all week, both here and on the H&R Block site with So You’ve Graduated. Now What? It’s a sad fact that we do not talk about money with our children, so they end up making the very same mistakes that we probably did as we were forced to stumble through learning about money. Break that cycle with your kids. Begin teaching them what you know about money and saving and do it early. And sometime, just sometimes, you have to make that lesson a little hard so that they get a true appreciation for just how long it takes you to make the money that you hand over to them.
My sister’s next lesson? Earning her own money…as in get a job, get a job.