Five Things Every Kid Should Know Before Leaving Home

charlie_imageThis past weekend I had the opportunity to go up to Minneapolis and meet up with my fellow blogging peeps, Aaron and Laurie (from While in Minneapolis I stopped by the Mall of Consumerism. Whoops. Sorry. I meant to say Mall of America. Must have been a Freudian slip! :) While at the mall I did a little shopping, but also observed a lot of other consumers and their habits. For the most part, a lot of the mall shoppers were teens and younger couples (plus the occasional power walker).

While observing a lot of younger consumers I soon noticed a majority of them were wearing the latest Nike Air shoes, with a North Face jacket, wearing either Abercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle, and texting on the latest iPhone or Android phones. I felt like I was in a scene on The Truman Show. The scene where everyone was in the loop, and I was left out. 

It really got me thinking about how many young kids are getting the wrong impression. The impression that consumerism is good and you've got to have the best or newest. I know this isn't a shock to anyone, but it made me think about my own kids. How are my kids being influenced by me?

So I decided to put together a list of things I want my kids to know about finances and life before they leave home.

  1. You'll never regret working hard – in growing up on the farm for 18 years, I hated having to do chores (field work or livestock) that my parents and grandparents dictated. I never saw a dime for a lot of the work I did and felt like the work was futile. However, years later having worked in the corporate world, I now realize how rare hard workers are in normal suburban America. Learn to work hard as a child and it will help you go a long way in your career.
  2. Start saving early – in college my quantitative methods teacher pounded into my head the power of compound interest, and how saving early on in your career will have the greatest impact. I started saving immediately when I turned 22 and had my first fulltime job, and don't regret going without some of the normal wants/needs for my age.
  3. Save for a rainy day – fear drove a lot of the Great Depression generation to save every extra penny and store their money in mattresses and in piano benches. A lot can be learned from this generation and the importance of saving for a rainy day. Regardless of the driving force behind this motivation, this generation understood that not every day would “be a sunny day.”
  4. Don't be ashamed to ask for helpwhen you are in financial trouble one of the hardest things to do is ask for help. My hope is that my kids will always seek council on how they should manage their finances from someone who has demonstrated being a good steward. Too often we want to cover the “sin” up and deal with it on our own.
  5. Be generous with your money – realizing that your money is not your own, but has been provided to you from the Lord, is a hard concept for kids to grasp. Even for adults too! It's important to demonstrate giving of your money to church, charities, and those in need. Don't just say it, but do it!

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

I learned a lot of these key values through my parents and grandparents example. Watching their actions more than their words. What actions are you hoping to demonstrate to your children before they leave for the workforce or college? For those “empty nesters”, what advice do you have for younger couples with ch

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  1. Must be in our gene’s, we are a family that observes. While taking care of Charlie’s kids we went to a water park and I just could not believe the amount of money people were spending at the food court. Constant stream of kids paying VERY high prices for junk. The next night we took the kids to a matinee movie and we just paid the $6 ticket(no food/drink) but we saw families spending close to $50 for their family!

  2. Had to chuckle about the North Face jackets. When we went to Alaska the people there told us how they know who are the tourists and who actually live there. The tourists wear shiny new North Face coats and the residents wear beat up old Carhart jackets.

  3. I live 3 miles from the Mall of America, I never go there. Too many people, to hard to park.

    BUT, the mall is full of people spending their retirement savings.

    • I would recommend going just to people watch. It is amazing! I’d love to do financial surveys of people in the mall at random times just to get a pulse of the economy.

  4. I live super close to MOA but try to avoid it like that plague! It’s always nuts in there and brings out the dark side of consumerism. I heard they’re planning to expand it too!

    • Heather,

      I was amazed at how long the parkinglines and interstate traffic was to get into the Mall of America on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of March. It really made me think that consumers must really think the economy is good. Which is completely false, but I’ll save that for another post! :)

  5. Great points. When I have kids I’ll want to teach them the importance of strong work ethic. From an early age I plan to have my children do chores around the house (appropriate to their age) to earn money to save for extras they want. My parents did this w/ me and I think I learned early on how to work for and save for what I wanted. I didn’t expect it to be given/gifted to me.

  6. Charlie, AWESOME article, and I agree with every one of these. It is sad how so many kids are convinced that having the latest and greatest stuff is important, isn’t it? I would also add to teach them about value-based spending and the importance of living within your means. I thought stuff was important when I was younger too, now I know better.

    • It is truly sad how many kids think that the latest and greatest stuff is important. My parents showed me by example that this wasn’t true, and is why we wore so much Goodwill clothing.

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