What I’m Teaching My Kids About Money
Posted by: Joseph Kuo | March 20, 2023
This fall, my oldest child leaves for college and the beginning of his adult life. As that time draws near, I’ve been thinking about the example I’ve set for him and what I hope he has taken to heart. Having worked with many clients who have experienced what I am about to experience, I’ve gained some insights into this topic.
Here are a few major points when it comes to teaching kids about money. I’ll be focusing more on higher-level points, since nuts-and-bolts topics like budgeting and basic investing can be easily found elsewhere.
Take the Opportunity To Learn About Yourself
College is for higher learning. But the college experience goes far beyond what is taught in the classroom. My son will no longer have me there to support him day-to-day. He will have to learn to stand on his own, become his own person for the very first time, and discover who exactly that person is. It’s often an iterative process, and the answer will likely change over his college tenure (and even after he transitions into the working world).
I hope that as my son undergoes this process, he can be courageous in learning all he can, trying new things (in a responsible manner), finding out what he truly loves, and then pursuing that passion. The last thing I’d want him to do is to just do what he thinks I want him to do.
Not Everyone Has the Same Perspective On Money
My son’s mother and I grew up in households with different financial backgrounds and different perspectives on using money. So we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on money matters. Thus while growing up, my son often saw that terms like “responsible spending” and “saving for the future” meant very different things to different people.
I hope that when my son is on his own, and has to discuss money matters with others including his future spouse, he can avoid jumping to conclusions. It’s important to realize that not everyone had the same perspective on money growing up, and that what might be obvious to him won’t be so obvious to others. Thus, he needs to take the time to find common ground and see where the other side is coming from.
How We Use Money Is A Reflection of Ourselves
No matter what his ultimate views are on money, I hope my son can come to see that having (or not having) money should not be a source of pride or shame. Instead, money is a byproduct of who we are and what we do. I hope that he can also be aware and accept that everyone he meets will have different backgrounds and perspectives, but that doesn’t mean that they have opposing values.
This idea applies in a few different ways. First, it affects the attitude towards money knowledge in general—the willingness to learn about money and to become invested in knowing what we need to get what we want. Secondly, developing the ability to decisively make financial decisions, rather than being afraid to face financial situations head on. Having a positive approach to both these aspects will help him in the long run and make it easier for him to accomplish his life goals. If he finds himself not on track, I hope he can be adaptable to make the necessary adjustments to get back on track, or to not be afraid to pivot if he decides that there’s a better path.
Wealth Should Be Used To Do Good
No person is an island. We all impact the world around us and are impacted by the world in return. While we are responsible for our own happiness, our happiness is also influenced and informed by the people around us.
If my son becomes fortunate enough to have wealth, I hope he can feel that just having money doesn’t necessarily make him a good or bad person. In the end, it’s not how much wealth you accumulate—what matters is what you do with it. I hope my son will use his financial resources to positively impact himself, his loved ones, and his community.