How are you talking to your kids about money?

I don’t know about you but sometimes we don’t stop to think about the exact meaning of what we are saying. Hey we are busy people and we don’t have time to scrutinize everything that comes out of our mouth. Sometimes we should but it would be a little crazy to do it for every sentence we spoke!

But there are times when we really do need to stop and focus on what words we are using and the meaning that goes with them.

One of these times is when we say that we “can’t afford” something. “Can’t afford” seems to say we have no choice, that a lack mentality is necessary and that we are poor. Yet many times it really is more of a choice that we are making with our money, instead of a reality that we don’t have any money.

And if you use those words with your kids it can make a difference in how they view money and the infinite possibilities that can come from money.

So here are two things to keep in mind when you are talking about money to your kids.

  1. Reality vs. Choice

I would say that when we think about not being able to afford something it has more to do with choosing to spend our money in other places. Let me give you an example with kids. Your teenage daughter wants the hot expensive name brand pair of jeans. You have the money to buy the jeans, but you prefer to pay the household bills, save for a vacation or have some spending money for dining out a couple of times a month with your partner.

Woman picking money from a money treeWe all make decisions on what to spend money on based on what we value and need in life. So instead of saying “we don’t have the money” or ‘we can’t afford it” say “we choose to spend our money elsewhere”. This is a powerful distinction that is not just for our kids, but for us too! This teaches us we must decide where to spend money based on what we want and need. Not what society wants or what we would do if we had a money tree in the backyard! This is a key lesson to teach our kids; we must prioritize our money choices so we can get the things we desire the most.

Next we need to teach our kids that they too can contribute to their own wants. It’s not just about mom and dad’s money. As an example if your son wants the newest video game, and you have not budgeted for it and are not willing to spend money for it then you can say; “This is not something I want to spend money on, but you are more than welcome to buy it with your own money.” (I know this doesn’t go over very well…)

But when you approach it this way they learn that they have to decide where to spend money, and they also learn to save for things that they value and want. You’ll see that their need for that game will quickly change when they have to spend their own money.

  1. Focus on the Money

The next thing is you need to select your words to keep the focus on the money – not your kids. Don’t say to them that they always want this and that or that they cost too much. You are doing some subconscious damage to their beliefs around money that I deal with as a coach helping my clients have a better relationship with money. It is definitely not your kids that are a problem; they probably just don’t understand the value of money.

Mother reprimanding child having tantrum in storeAs parents we usually blurt out these statements when we are stressed, rushed and not in a place where we can have a meaningful conversation. So if your kid has a tantrum in the store because they want something, fall back to the basic statement; “we choose not to spend money on this” and leave it at that until you get home and have a better conversation about money, and their options.

The words we use around the topic of money are equally as powerful as what we are attempting to teach. So choose your words wisely and your kids will grow up with the right money mindset! (Otherwise they will be calling me later in life wondering why they can’t save or spend too much…thanks in advance! 😉


If you need to talk to me about your beliefs around money, click here! It’s never too late to have a better relationship with money!