Nate talks about a recent questionnaire that he gave to his students and the themes that emerged relating to money.
I was recently having a come to Jesus moment with my 8th grade students as they inch ever closer to high school and I asked them a few questions and had them write down their responses. I told my students that I would not look at their answers if they did not want me to. The only thing they had to do was put a check on their notecard, and that would be an indication that I was allowed to look. One of the questions I asked them was one thing that they want for their life. This was basically in the place of “what do you want to do when you grow up.”
I’m not a big fan of asking kids what they want to do. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up so I’m not going to ask them that question. I promise, there’s a reason why I’m sharing this story.
At the end of the day I looked over my checkmarks and was astounded by the three themes that emerged from that one question. Of the student’s that let me look at their answers, these are the three themes:
- To make/have a lot of money
- To not be in debt
- To be successful
Money being 2/3rds of the answers was very surprising to me. What it tells me is that kids are attuned to money related issues inside of their houses and want to make sure that they are financially secure in their future lives.
So the question becomes, what do we need to do to make sure that our kids understand and know how to budget and use money. The short answer is that I don’t have an answer. As a family with a 4 year old and a couple of dogs, 7 fish, and a treefrog, explaining how to use money to a kid isn’t something I’ve had to truly approach yet.
As of right now, the way that we explain money to our son is based on need. Do we need something or do we want something. If we need it, we find the money and explain to him that it comes from money that we have for that reason. If it is a want, we need to see if we have enough money for it. He has his own piggy bank and we put change in there. If he wants to get something at the store, usually $1 Hot Wheels cars, we bring his change with use and pay with it from that. When he sees the money physically disappearing it doesn’t change his mind on getting the car, but what we hope happens, is that he connects spending on things has a cost that could hurt later.
We also talk about our finances in front of him and we don’t have any secrets about money in our house. He doesn’t seem to notice at all, but we want him to be comfortable talking money and to have heard the terms.
So getting back to the story of my students. I don’t have a real answer right now, but it’s something that I’m going to talk with them a bit more and see if I can get more depth from them. It’s been a long time since I’ve been 12-13 and I want to make sure that I am accurately capturing and thinking about their wants and concerns.
One final note, for the third theme, success. Success is not based on money, at least for us. Success is what you define it as. If you view success as having millions of dollars, go for it, but be aware that it takes time, talent, effort, and luck to get there. While all of the same things are required for our version of success, we like ours way more than money. Our version of success is to have a family that we love, jobs that sustain us, and time to invest into the things we value. Success is what you make it, and that’s what we have decided to make ours.