Teaching children delayed gratification for financial security

Young adults going out on their own for the first time sometimes want to have what their parents have without waiting for it. The result is a whole lot of debt.

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  • I remember getting married young and wanting to set up the perfect home. Leaving the comfort of my parents' home, it was difficult starting at ground zero. I wanted nice furnishings right then. I did not want to wait for them.

  • Then came the credit card offers to the new couple. We wanted to build our credit so that we could one day purchase a home of our own instead of renting. So acquiring and using those credit cards was a natural first step. We decided we would use them and pay them off as early as we could. We got our nice things and only had time to admire our new digs for a short while before we got slammed.

  • Life happened. A car accident with a high deductible. A large medical bill. A new baby. Before we could say, "Charge it," we were neck high in debt. Burdens were placed on us and we in turn burdened our parents for help in getting out of our financial woes.

  • This is how it goes for many young couples. It is difficult and takes a great deal of self-control to not jump into debt for things they want.

  • Teach your children that sometimes it is better to wait by presenting them with these scenarios:

  • The cookie challenge

  • and

  • Give your child two cookies. Tell them that they can have the two cookies now, or they can wait one hour and then have four cookies and a glass of milk. If they choose to wait for the greater reward, don't give in early. Let them wait the full hour.

  • Savings match

  • Help your children set goals for something big they want (doll, bicycle, video game, car) and tell them you'll match their savings up to a point. This encourages them to set a little aside and work toward it.

  • License incentive

  • Give your children an incentive for getting a driver's license. Require that they make a certain grade point average or follow certain rules.

  • Help children to understand finances by:

  • Games

  • Playing board games like Monopoly, Stock Market, Hotels and Life is a fun way to learn how to handle money and the truth that all earnings come with nasty little things like taxes.

  • Allowance

  • Give children chores and a small allowance, so they begin to learn a work ethic.

  • Budget

  • Sit down and make a budget with your kids, encouraging them to save a portion of whatever money they receive.

  • Raises

  • Make the allowance age appropriate, raising it by small increments as children get older.

  • Shared responsibility

  • Gradually make your kids responsible for certain purchases so that they understand budgeting. For instance, tell them you'll take care of clothing and shoes, and they can buy their own make-up, jewelry and other extras.

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  • The big picture

  • Get your children involved in the family budget so they begin to comprehend income and outgo and the responsibilities that go along with adulthood.

  • Banking

  • When you feel he or she is mature enough, help your child open a savings and/or checking account so he can learn to manage his own finances.

  • Parents know the huge truth children cannot yet grasp — everything is worth waiting for and they will appreciate things so much more if they earn them. Take every opportunity to teach your children about delaying big purchases for a better life. Include stories about lessons you've learned the hard way. But also share with them the joys of waiting. Life moves pretty fast. Help them to enjoy being a kid and learning about the realities of life without living them too soon.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.

Website: http://www.beckytheauthor.weebly.com

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