Teaching our children about Financial Literacy

When we have children/nieces/nephews, we hope they have a better life than we did. We want them to learn from our mistakes. Growing up, I was not necessarily raised with financial literacy. For me, I copped it to my shitty understanding of math. My thought process was, “well, I f**king suck at math, so why bother?” This obviously translates into finances where I thought, “Well, I have always sucked at math and these financials are hella confusing and I am just going to close this spreadsheet and say, eff it.”

Obviously, I want better for Emmy (she calls herself Emmy, which in my biased opinion is the cutest shit I have ever heard) when it comes to math and financial literacy. Tolga and I often joke about how strict we will be with her about school, especially in these subjects. This post focuses on the four financial lessons that we’ll be teaching Emmy.

Lesson #1:

It is never too early to start saving

Growing up I had an allowance. Instead of saving, I would blow it all on candy and Tiger Beat magazines. When I turned twelve, I got my baby sitting certificate. As if this girl saved any of it. Off to the mall I go to buy some hair scrunches, candy, Body Shop t-shirt or any other awesome 90s fashion trend. In high school, I was fortunate to have a decent office job. Continuing with the theme, I would spend my money on useless shit. I went to university with absolutely no savings. I’m sure we’ll give Emily an allowance and I’m sure she’ll have a high school job. You bet your ass she’ll be going to university with savings. She’ll know how important it is to pay yourself first.

Lesson #2:

Even if you suck at math, you still need to care about money

We have this dream that one day Emily will work in the STEMs. Our hope is that Emily won’t have a hard time with math, that she’ll understand and it come naturally to her. However, if this isn’t the case (as it is with me) then we don’t want this to be an excuse not to care about her money. Unlike me, we want Emily to be financially literate. How many of us, especially if math is our weak spot, look at our finances and think, “This is too confusing/frustrating/overwhelming and I don’t want to look at it.” I thought like that for years and as a result, spent way too long paying off my debt. I believe personal finance will be a constant topic of conversation in our house and we don’t want Emily to believe it should be scary and overwhelming. We don’t want her to be afraid to ask for help.

Lesson #3:

Be smart with your credit cards

We have written about our love/hate relationship with credit cards before. With Emily, I’m sure she’ll get a credit card sometime in high school. We think it’s similar to drinking. It’s better to try it out at home than out in public and just go balls to wall (do people still say this?!). We’d rather have Emily use her first credit card while she’s still at home. Building credit while you’re young is really important. It’s even more important to learn the value of a credit card while you’re young. We don’t want her to turn 40 and then only realize how to properly use her credit.

Lesson #4:

Never pay just the minimum balance on any credit

We wrote about this before but it is something we’ll always reiterate. Never pay just the minimum balance on any credit. We’ll ingrain this into Emily’s head from day one. It will take FOREVER to pay off and you’ll spend a shit-ton of money paying interest. Banks are rich enough, they don’t need more of your money!

At the end of the day, we want Emily to be smart with her money. We want her to learn the value of money.  That personal finance doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. She will make mistakes, but we hope we can have open and honest conversations about money. Who knows, maybe she’ll be like her dad and work in corporate finance. I just hope she doesn’t have to learn the hard way, like I did. But if she does, then we’ll be there to support and encourage her.

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