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The Cost of Adulthood

It costs a lot to be a grown-up! Teaching your kids that adults have certain financial responsibilities helps them to understand what to expect as they get older.

Household chores, babysitting and retail jobs help kids earn money and those earnings offer you a perfect introduction to discuss spending, both now and in the future. Have a talk about what the family pays for vs. what the kids pay for. Parents might agree to pay for one pair of sneakers a year, but if a child wants another pair, it’s on them. This helps to teach your children how to begin budgeting.

Kids, even young ones, are always watching how parents conduct themselves. This includes how they spend and save money. If you’re careless with your cash, or an impulse buyer, remember that your children are watching. Model responsible behavior and you’ll help them in the long run to become responsible with money as well.

Grocery shopping can be a learning experience for your children. If you cut coupons, or adhere to grocery lists, you can show kids how you handle the adult task of making sure your family always has food and how you’re always able to pay for it.

Whether you pay your household bills online or by mail, once your child is about ten years old, they can sit with you as you pay some very simple bills and explain to them how they are your financial responsibilities. Discuss your electric bill and what would happen if it wasn’t paid. When you tell them, the lights would go off and the TV wouldn’t work, you’ll get their attention!

Riding in the car can drive a conversation about car payments and can even lead to mortgages. Keep the explanation simple. Use the example of them not having enough money for something they want and borrowing from you and then needing to pay you back.

The point isn’t to overwhelm children about how much it costs to be an adult, but if you introduce how an adult becomes financially responsible in a way they can understand, they’ll be all the more money savvy when they grow up.