This past weekend I had the opportunity to go up to Minneapolis and meet up with my fellow blogging peeps, Aaron and Laurie (from TheFrugalFarmer.net). 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Don't be ashamed to ask for help – when 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.
- 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