Society is working overtime toaddict our children to spending.We have let ourselves become victimsof a consumer culture where childrenhave learned that we can getwhatever we want, whenever we wantit. Over the past 10 years, credit carddebt among 18-to 24-year-olds hasrisen by 104% according to the report"Generation Broke: The Growth ofDebt Among Young Americans," releasedby the nonprofit research organizationDemos. Only 56% of UShouseholds have any type of savings,while 44% have no savings at all.
If you plan to teach your childrenanything about saving and budgetingin a consumer culture, make the startingpoint your own financial situation.The following are three lessons to useas a starting point in teaching yourchildren about money:
1) Stop enabling. Parents want tomake sure their children get everythingthey had or didn't have. There may be alot of comfort in this method of providing,but in the end the teen turns into anadult who has no clue how to managemoney. Watching a child suffer througha financial struggle may be difficult, butthe lessons they learn will give them abetter chance at financial success.
2) School is a job. One of the mostimportant lessons you can teach achild about finances is that you have toearn it. Everyone has a job, that's howyou are able to fund your living. Itshould be no different for your child.You can start teaching your childabout the value of work at a young ageby teaching them that school is theirjob. Children and teens must be taughtthat to have opportunities they mustearn their education.
3) Follow the leader. Your childrenwill model what you do when itcomes to finances. If they see you usecredit cards, they will use them too. Ifyou demonstrate to your child how tolive life beyond your means, they willmimic this. The best thing you can dois live your financial life in front ofyour children. If you are planning avacation, involve your children in thesaving process. Talk with your teensabout investing, what program you areusing to eliminate debt, and how youplan to save for retirement. Let themsee your struggles and successes. It'sone of the best lessons you can givethem before releasing them into ourconsumer culture society.
Carrie Ardelean (pictured with her daughter,Victoria) is COO of CreditSolutions.com, adebt reduction program that is leading theway in offering consumers online interactivefinancial tools and personal financial assistance.Reprinted with permission from CreditSolutions.com.