January 17, 2009 - (by Elisabeth Donati, CEO of Creative Wealth Intl., LLC) - If you've read many of my articles to date, you know how passionate I am about our involvement in our own children's financial education. You also know I feel about making sure your children are involved in all aspects of the family finances.
To give you some ideas on how exactly to do this, I've compiled a list of activities for you to do with your child. These activities will give your kids a good idea of what is involved in running a household and what it takes to be on the right track financially.
Remember, there is no cut and dry answer in terms of how to prepare your child for financial independence. Each child is different, learns different, will filter information and experiences through their previous experiences and so forth. But if you bring your children into your family's financial life at an early age, they will embrace it just as easily as they embrace brushing their teeth every day (OK, so some will and some won't but it's rare adult who doesn't brush their teeth at least once a day:-).
1. Create your family's monthly or yearly budget with your child(ren). Let them see how much money it takes to pay the mortgage or rent, buy the food, pay for their education, buy the dog food, etc. Kids rarely have any idea of how much it actually costs just to buy the basics these days.
In our Camp Millionaire program, the campers are sent home one afternoon with a piece of wealth work we call, "What it costs to raise me." This sheet lists all the basic costs associated with raising a child and parents help the kids fill in the blanks. The most common remark we get from kids is that they had no idea how 'spoiled' they were! Parents often tell us in person how valuable that exercise is.
If you'd like to go over this with your kids, just click here to download a copy of this sheet. You'll be glad you did.
2. Take your child(ren) to see the family's financial advisor, CPA or accountant, lawyers, insurance agents, etc. Children need to understand the concept of developing a qualified team of experts to advise you. In case you haven't noticed, life in America at least, has gotten quite legal heavy. There seems to be laws for everything these days and if you want to stay above the fold on what is best for your financial situation, you really need to have a team in place.
If you don't have a team built yet, that's OK. There's no time like the present, as they say. Bring your kids in on the development of the team as well.
3. Making lists; all types of lists. Grocery lists, want lists, to-do lists, etc. One of the most overwhelming aspects of adult life seems to be the perpetual 'to do' lists in our heads. As you learn how to develop a 'to do' list system that works for you, teach it to your children. This way all that 'stuff' is out of your head and on paper where you can access it easily while letting go of the need to remember it.
The best system I have found for me is as follows. I create a Master Week List on a white or yellow legal pad on Sunday night or Monday morning (evening is best). Then, each evening that week, I look at the master list and decide on my daily list. I find this system really works because it allows me to prioritize each day. The best part is that I'm not constantly looking at the LARGE list and therefore, not getting too overwhelmed.
4. Learning about assets can be a wonderful family activity. There is so much information on the internet that exploring the world of the stock market, real estate and building online and offline businesses is fun and exciting. Just pick a topic each week or month, do a search on Google or your favorite search engine and start reading. Remember not to take everything at face value, however; another great thing to teach your kids.
5. Invite successful people to your home for coffee or a meal and let your child(ren) sit in on the conversation. Let your guest in on the reason you're having them over. Letting the child get to interact and observe successful people is a great way for them to understand what type of people are wealthy and which ones aren't. After a meeting, sit down with your child and ask them what they noticed and after having met with many people over the course of a year or two, you and your child will no doubt have begun to notice patterns of behavior, choices, attitudes, etc. that common among highly effective and successful people.
6. OK, this one may shock you so hang on to your seat. As many of you know, there are a lot of great financial and business books available now, some are even targeted toward children. I highly recommend that you get yourself a library of them and do whatever you can to entice your teens to read them, including PAYING THEM! Think of it this way. They can sit in front of the computer or TV or Ipod or whatever other electronic device is the distracter de jour or they can be filling their minds with information that will motivate them from the inside.