Lucky To Be a Dad: Father’s Day Thoughts About Teaching to Your Kids’ Money Personalities

    It’s wonderful being a dad to two wonderful girls. And I’m very fortunate that I’ve found my calling largely because of them. Having a real-life incubator for your ideas about teaching financial education for kids right in your own home is also pretty helpful. With Father’s Day approaching, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on my kids’ money personalities and perhaps provide some helpful insight to other dads out there. Of course, this info. is mom-friendly as well.

“Most folks just assume that […] my kids are inherently incredible savers who both easily and naturally make great choices with their money every time. I wish.”

Not surprisingly, most folks just assume that because I’m the Chief Mammal, my kids are inherently incredible savers who both easily and naturally make great choices with their money every time. I wish. In fact, both our kids have distinct money personalities that affect their decision making. The money personalities could be considered the root cause of the money mistakes that they’re most likely to make. Recognizing these personalities in your own kids is important, as it can help you customize your plan to teach each of your individual children about money.

“With our young spender, my wife and I found that it was very important to set savings goals and to require at least a week before any consequential purchase was made.”

One of our daughters is a natural spender like me. It took me a long time and a lot of battling against bad habits to build more money-smart habits, like consistently saving and giving to charity. It’s why I wish I had a program like ours when I was a kid. It’s also the reason I created The Money Mammals. My parents are great, and they are both relatively frugal. However, we rarely talked about money. This was not uncommon for their generation, but that was something we were determined to change in our family. With our young spender, my wife and I found that it was very important to set savings goals and to require at least a week before any consequential purchase was made. For example, just a week ago, my daughter announced that she wanted a GoPro camera. She had plenty in her Save account, but because she hadn’t set a savings goal for the item, I told her that she had to wait at least a week for the purchase. Some folks might recommend giving kids a two-week or even month-long window, and I wouldn’t argue with them. Do whatever works for your family. The main point is to put some time between the impulse and the purchase for kids that are more natural spenders. I do advocate giving kids autonomy over their money, but it’s times like these in which Dad can step into the advisory role and help them avoid obvious mistakes that are likely to repeat themselves. Try it the next time your natural spender clamors for something of consequence.

“One of the challenges with her is to make sure that she’s finding a place to put her accumulated Share jar money.”

One of our daughters is a natural saver. Not surprisingly, she’s incredibly goal-oriented.  Better savers are imbued with a stronger ability to delay gratification. She’s definitely the one that would end up with two marshmallows in Walter Mischel’s famous Marshmallow Test. One of the advantages of a child who is this way is that you can heap more money responsibility on her earlier. For example, we moved our natural saver to an electronic allowance about a year earlier than our natural spender because it was clear she understood the importance of making smart-money choices on a routine basis. She was the one most likely to take advantage of the incentive rate we pay for money put in the Save jar. (Click here for more detailed information on how we set up allowance for our kids.) One of the challenges with her is to make sure that she’s finding a place to put her accumulated Share jar money because her head tends to be focused on amassing (trying not to say hoarding) sums and not necessarily on distributing them. Take a look at my blog post on “How to Make Sharing (Or Charitable Giving) a Habit for Your Kids.”

 

It’s very important to do your best not to be judgmental about your kids’ different money personalities because they can be hardwired to some extent. Please note that I’m the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes in this area many times, so don’t beat yourself up when you make those same mistakes. Just like we say with regard to learning money smarts, mistakes are part of the game as long as you learn from them. Embrace the differences, and adjust your teaching accordingly. Good luck, and happy Father’s Day!

 

John Lanza Chief Mammal & Creator, The Money Mammals

 

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