A recent question on my Gen Y column was about kids and money – and whether teaching kids about money is a one-way street. That is, is there anything that kids can teach their parents about money? As a parent of three children I have to say that the answer to that is yes.
Young as they are, my kids have reinforced a couple of financial lessons for me. One is that people are more likely to value something that they′ve had to work for; my kids all take much better care of the things that they buy with their own hard-earned pocket money than the things that they′ve been given. It′s because they know the value of the stuff they buy themselves, of course, and know just how many weeks of pocket money they would have to accumulate in order to replace the Lego/Smiggle stationary/makeup. Knowing the importance of earning money, and being a little bit hungry to earn it, is a good thing.
Getting a good deal on a kid′s account
The other money lesson that my kids have taught me is that while some of the best things in life are free, there′s usually a lot of hard work and money that go into making those free things possible. For example, my kids love riding their bikes along the many beautiful bike paths near our home, love attending our awesome local State school, love going to the Brisbane museum and GOMA and Southbank and to the many parks near our home. Ostensibly all those things are almost free (with thanks to local councils and state governments that have created these facilities from hard-working taxpayer dollars) but they′re only possible for us to do on a regular basis because we′ve worked hard to buy a house in a great location close to the city and the things they love.
Heading in the other direction, there are heaps of great money lessons I could teach the older generations, I′m sure – but they generally don′t listen to me. A bit like my kids really…