[This is a guest post by Shannon Ryan. Make sure you read all the way to the end as there’s an awesome surprise (hint: iPad Mini giveaway) waiting for you.]
The words “I want” accompanied by a tantrum loud enough to be heard miles away is every parent’s nightmare. Sometimes we agree to buy the toy, so our child stops being kidzilla and returns to our normal, sweet child. Other times we stay firm in our decision to not buy the toy, but we forget the most important part — the why behind the “no”. It may not seem like a big deal, but our children need to understand the “why” so they don’t wind-up feeling deprived.
I’ve been a Certified Financial Planner for more than 20 years and I know the high price of a so-called deprived childhood. In most of these situations, these children were not deprived, but in their mind, they were. They were told “no” without a real explanation repeatedly. After a lifetime of being told “no”, when they become adults armed with a credit card, they tell themselves “yes” every time.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting you buy your children everything they want, so they never feel deprived. That is definitely not the answer. Now you’ve gone too far in the other direction, and your kids feel entitled to everything they want. So what is a parent supposed to do?
Explain the “Why” Behind the “No”
“No” is an unsatisfactory answer to most kids. They are naturally curious and will keep pestering you until they get an explanation. Unfortunately, the default answer is often “We can’t afford it.” Sometimes this is true, but in many instances your child doesn’t need a new toy or your money was intended for something else.
“We Can’t Afford It” Is Not the Best Answer to “I Want”
This all-too popular answer can create feelings of fear and/or deprivation. Young kids tend to be very literal, so when they hear, “we can’t afford it”, they believe you. Now you’ve planted a seed of fear that there isn’t enough money for food and shelter. While older kids tend to feel deprived because they see you buy plenty of other things, so why not their new toy or outfit or gadget? They vow to never tell themselves or their kids “no” when they get big, and some keep that promise, much to the determent of their finances.
The Best Answer to “I Want”
One of the most important lessons I taught my girls was to give their money purpose. We set both family and individual save, spend and share goals, so that we find things we like, we have something to compare it against. Our goals act as barometer against mindless spending and keep us focused on achieving the things we want the most.
When the girls find something they want, we slow down and consider it. I don’t automatically say “no” but we talk through our options. They know our family money has a purpose (generally a vacation) so I remind them of our upcoming trip and all the wonderful things we have planned. Then I ask if this new toy is more important. Because I have renewed their excitement and shifted their focus, they agree that the toy doesn’t compare to our family vacation. They walk away without regret or feeling deprived because we are working towards achieving something far more valuable as a family.
This is why I advocate so strongly for families to set their own save, spend and share goals. Involve your kids so they understand that your money has purpose, which means you must be very mindful of how you spend your money so you don’t delay goal achievement. Now they know you are not being arbitrary when you tell them “no” nor do they feel deprived because they are getting something far better than a toy in the end.
Making Money Conversations Fun and Easy
Financial literacy is my passion, and it is easy for me to talk to my girls about money, but I know it’s a struggle for some parents. One easy and fun way to help you start these important conversations and shape how your kids think about money is through my children’s picture books. I’m pleased to offer VOSA readers an exclusive coupon code TOUR3114 for $3.00 off my new book, The Lemonade Stand. Join Lauren and Taylor in their continuing money adventures as they teach their friends, Ryan and Christopher, how easy it is to save, spend and share.
About the Author: Shannon Ryan is a Certified Financial Planner and a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being.
The Lemonade Stand – iPad Mini Giveaway
July 14-31, 2014
Sponsored by The Heavy Purse
Co-hosted by Are Ya Gonna Eat That, Broke Millennial, Budget and The Beach, Budget Blonde, Budgeting for More, Busy Mom Budgets, Cash Cow Couple, Cents and Sensibility, Club Thrifty, Color Me Frugal, Debt Debs, Debt Roundup, Disease Called Debt, Eat Laugh Purr, Enemy of Debt, Eyes on the Dollar, Femme Frugality, Financially Blonde, Frugal Rules, Living Richly Cheaply, Luke 1428, Making Sense of Cents, Money Saving Dude, Monster Piggy Bank, Not Now Mom’s Busy, Reach Financial Independence, Shoeaholic No More, Stacking Benjamins, Tackling Our Debt, The Broke and Beautiful Life, The Finance Girl, The Frugal Farmer, The Random Path, Thrifty Dad, VeegMama, and Young Adult Money.
We’re Giving Away an iPad Mini to One Lucky Reader!
Help us celebrate the release of The Lemonade Stand and join Shannon in her mission to increase financial literacy in both children and adults.
“Everyone handles money. Unfortunately, not everyone does it with confidence. Money has long been a taboo topic in many homes, which makes it even harder for parents to know where to start or what to teach. So I created a series of children books to help parents ease into these important conversations. Financial literacy is one of the most loving gifts you can give your children, and I encourage you to make money conversations a priority in your home.”
The giveaway runs from July 14-31, 2014 and is open worldwide.*
* A winner located outside of the United States will receive a cash equivalent prize via PayPal.