Kids and Money Mindset
More often than not, kids have picked up habits and ideas about money from their parents. But it’s not all about your influence. Some kids are risk-takers when their parents aren’t at all, and some kids are good at saving while others love to spend, even if they’ve come from the same house.
Kids have their own ideas they’ve formed from other external influences, like their friends and social media. Their Instagram and TikTok feeds are going to tell you a lot about what influences them. In a world where we’re keeping up with everyone on social media, it’s worth noting that mental health is closely linked to financial health, so having sound financial well-being and spending money on the right things can really impact our kids’ well-being overall.
Our innate personalities and external influences start to guide our decisions. It’s important to know your kids’ spending and savings habits and whether they’re risk-takers or conservative when it comes to money, so you can stop unhealthy behaviours in their tracks.
Where are your kids getting their knowledge about money and wealth? What can you teach them based on what you can see is influencing them?
Your Child’s Money Personality
We’re all different with money, and everyone has a different money personality. How we manage money and how we like to learn about it are different, and it can make all the difference when it comes to helping to engage them in the money conversation. The better you know what their individual personality is like, the easier it will be to engage with them. Have a think about how they engage with money and whether they’ve picked up any habits or ideas.
There are many money personalities. And it is only by knowing your kids so well that you can recognise theirs.
A few common types are:
- The hustler, who is always looking for ways to make money and improve their money situation.
- The saver, who takes pride in being thrifty and saving their cash.
- The spender, who loves to spend all the money they get.
How can you find out if your kid is a spender, investor, or hustler? Start paying attention to their behaviours. If they get money for their birthday or from doing chores, do they want to put it in the bank straight away or go on a shopping spree and spend it? Or do they think about putting the money into something that could reap rewards, like collecting basketball cards or starting an eBay shop?
If your child is a hustler, you can get them involved in investing from an early age. You might talk to them about different companies they like that they could invest in, and show them how they can start using their savings to invest in some of these companies. It’s important to explain the risks to them as well. You can find these apps online now; make sure you do your research and read reviews of each of these online trading platforms to see what works for you. Yes, that means you have to go and do your own research. Start by googling “popular online trading platforms.”
I’m not going to tell you which ones to use. You need to start taking a look yourself and getting familiar with it before you start this conversation.
Your kid: Nana gave me fifty dollars for my birthday, I’m getting that new game!
You: Wow, that’s lucky. What other money did you get?
Your kid: Two twenty-dollar gift cards from my friends.
You: Amazing. Happy birthday. Why not choose a game with the gift cards, and buy shares in Sony PlayStation with the fifty dollars from Nan?
Your kid: I can do that?
You: Yep, It’s an app. I can show you.
Your kid: Can I put that app on my phone so I can check it?
You: Yes, with some rules around it.
Your kid: Cool.
You: Parenting box tick ✅
If they’re a saver, this is great! But make sure they’re not scared to spend on the things they value. They might be the kind of kid who really wants something but feels guilty for spending the money. They may have picked up a lack mindset from somewhere. Get them to think about what they want, so they can put money aside for something that’s important to them.
You: Wow, you have done a lot of shifts at work. What are you going to spend your money on?
Your kid: Nothing special. I’m just saving it.
You: Great. What are you saving for?
Your kid: I don’t know.
You: Well, it’s smart to save for a rainy day. Have you got a second account?
Your kid: Why would l?
You: Well, then you could move some into long-term savings, and use the everyday account for when you want something for yourself, like a birthday present for a friend.
Your kid: Oh, that makes sense. Thanks.
You: Parenting ✅
If your child is a spender, it is important to teach them to save money, as this is the personality that is the hardest to shift once it becomes ingrained. It’s also important to help them realise that there is not an unlimited supply of money if they do choose to spend. Getting your kids conscious of tradeoffs and decisions now and later is a lifelong journey.
Your kid: I’m going to spend this ten dollars at the shops today.
You: What on? Is that all your pocket money?
Your kid: Yep.
You: Then you won’t have anything left.
Your kid: So, it’s my money.
You: If we go to the mall tomorrow, you won’t be able to get that cool poster you wanted.
Your kid: Can’t you buy it?
You: No, it’s something you wanted.
Your kid: Oh well, no poster I guess.
You: Okay. Your choice.
Your kid: Yes, it is. (now understanding limited resources)
You: Parenting ✅
Teaching kids about money and how to manage it is how you will set them up for a good life ahead.
Leading by Example
The Parental Commitment
As parents to three boys, Woody and I can agree that having children has been the most rewarding, exhausting, forever job you could do. And the big word there is forever.
Like our commitment to our kids, a commitment to getting our children financially independent is one of the biggest jobs we have. Because when they are capable of creating their own income and understand how to grow their own wealth, you have done your job—to give your offspring the best chance possible, not just at survival, but at being independent and flourishing in life.
Our kids are heading closer to the young adult years, and I can safely say I now know there will never be a time when I won’t be their mum, that Woody and I won’t be talking about them and worrying about them as they navigate life, no matter what age they are.
I have always believed that teaching your kids about money by talking openly to them is a legacy and gift in itself. Talking about investing and growing wealth was not part of my childhood—my parents simply didn’t think like that, or really have access to that information. But they did teach the principles of saving up, and buying a home. I’m sure many of you will have had the same upbringing. We now must unlearn what we were brought up to believe, so we can have very different conversations with our kids.
Whether you leave a financial legacy to your kids or not, the most important thing you can give them is education so they can become financially independent for life.
I have always asked questions when working with finance leaders about how they were raised, when they started investing, and what they taught their kids about money. What I’ve learned over the years from talking with hundreds of master investors is that the best way to get your kids on the road to financial freedom is to have real conversations with them about money and engage them with money as a concept from the youngest age possible.
The younger they are, the more opportunity you have to get the ball rolling with good money habits and important concepts like saving and investing.
The earlier we start the conversation with our kids, the more we set them up to have a successful financial future. And as they get older, we should keep engaging with the technology and the tools to keep them on the right track. Whether you have young kids in school, teenagers, or adult kids, it’s really never too early or too late to talk to them about money.
Have you ever really had a conversation with your kids about money? What sort of things have you told them about money, even if it’s offhand? What haven’t you told them yet? What do your kids really know and not know about money? It’s time to start having those conversations with your kids now, before it’s too late. You don’t have to do it all at once, but take the opportunities life presents to offer suggestions and a framework for their thinking.
Your kid: I’ve got a job at Domino’s. I am going to be earning cash!
You: That’s great. Well done for making it happen. Did you pick your super fund?
Your kid: What? Nah, gotta fill out the paperwork they gave me.
You: You want help?
Your kid: No.
You: Can I send you a list of super funds to read about? They will manage your investing cash through the super you get paid.
Your kid: My investing cash?
You: Yes, that’s what super is. Money invested for future you.
Your kid: Cool. What funds are there?
You: Here’s two that I think look good for people in retail work.
Your kid: They are on the list.
You: Cool. Pick what sounds more like you—check out their social.
Your kid: I will. Thanks.
You: You won’t get paid until you get that paperwork in, so do it now.
Your kid: I’m busy, but fine.
You: Parenting tick ✅
This is an extract of Chapter 3 from Vanessa’s new book. You can order it here