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Another Father's Day is fast approaching and if you're like me you might be looking to play a little catch-up this year...
Raising a son or daughter is the most important and longest job a father will ever have. This Father’s Day we recognize dads around the country for their contribution to raising and educating the next generation.
As Father’s Day approaches, many dads begin reflecting on the life skills they’re teaching their children. Nice manners, discipline and a good work ethic top many lists. Not to be overlooked, however, are financial skills.
As Father’s Day approaches, we are reminded that dads are as often as not, charged with the task of teaching the children how to handle money responsibly.
Money Management International is a Member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) whose 2010 Financial Literacy Survey addressed the topic of where consumers learned the most about personal finance. The majority of respondents, 41 percent, said they learned their personal finance skills from their parents or at home. On the surface, that seems like a fine place for children to learn about money. However, another survey question allowed respondents to grade themselves on their own knowledge of financial literacy. Thirty-four percent, or nearly 77 million people, gave themselves a grade of C, D or F, leading to the conclusion that those in charge of the financial decisions at home may be in need of some additional financial education themselves.
A person can’t teach what he or she doesn’t know. We’re living in a time where an abundance of personal finance courses, books and other tools are available, meaning that dads (and moms) can take advantage of the opportunities to not only improve their grasp of financial literacy, but also positively impact their children.
It has long been known that children mimic their parents’ attitudes and habits. That means that adults need to not only teach, but also demonstrate sound personal finance habits through their lifestyle. Look at the following checklist to see if your behavior reflects what you want to be teaching your children about money.
Is there an emphasis on saving? Americans are really good spenders, but rotten savers. A robust savings account is a safety net that provides protection against the unplanned expense, the emergency, or a loss of income. Making saving an important element of your financial planning shows your children that you place a priority on preparing for the future.
Are you financially organized? Are you getting late notices not because you couldn’t afford to pay the bill, but because you forgot to pay it? Robbing Peter to pay Paul because due dates don’t coincide with paydays? Putting all of your financial papers in one place and reviewing them weekly will give you a sense of control over your finances and teach the children a valuable lesson.
Are there arguments in the home over money? Even if you try to hide it, if there’s tension in the home when money is discussed, the children will sense it. Money then becomes a scary subject to them, one to be avoided. They will likely carry this fear into adulthood, potentially causing problems when they have to deal with financial decisions within their own marriage.
Do you hide purchases? Remember, your children were probably with you when you made the purchase, as well as when you locked it in the trunk of the car so that your spouse wouldn’t see it. This is not teaching appropriate behavior on many levels.
Do you avoid answering the phone or opening the mail, fearing more communication with debt collectors? Your family will realize that something strange is going on, plus you won’t be able to dodge the collectors forever. It’s always better to deal with the problem rather than run from it, as delaying action only makes the situation harder to resolve.
Do you involve your family in financial decisions? Doing so provides ample opportunities to teach positive principles about money. Bring the children in on the decisions that affect them, things such as which cable package to buy, or how many pizzas should be ordered each month. Have a full discussion around the benefits of the decision, including what else could be done with the money saved.
Are you a generous giver? The children will observe you supporting the local little league team, charities, or the homeless. The gift of giving which starts at a young age will likely stay with the child for a lifetime.
The home is filled with teachable moments around money. Knowing that you children will likely follow the financial examples you’ve set is a strong encouragement to get your financial ducks in a row.
Many people name their parents as the primary teachers of financial habits. Unfortunately, many parents find that teaching their children about money is challenging at best.
It is a father’s role to help their children become responsible adults. In the process, many fathers regularly offer their children advice in the form of clichés. If your Father’s arsenal of euphemisms included “because I said so” you yourself may have been inclined to ignore some of dear-old-Dad’s advice; understandable since even the most loyal child can’t always help but roll their eyes with Dad says “you’ll thank me later.” However, before you disregard every pearl of wisdom your Dad ever quipped, you should know that many do deserve your attention. This is especially true for clichés about money.
The subject of money is often emotionally charged and can be a difficult one to discuss. By offering tried-and-true financial expressions during the course of your lifetime, your father may have taught you more than you realize. This Father’s Day, honor your Father by revisiting some of his financial clichés. You may be surprised to discover that there are some valuable lessons conveniently packaged in those easy-to-remember phrases.
A penny saved is a penny earned basically means that you should pay yourself first. In fact, financial experts agree with Dad; you should have three to six month’s living expenses saved in an accessible account. This is in addition to your long term savings vehicles, such as your 401k.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush means that what you currently possess is worth more than the possibility of possessing more. In conjunction with the grass is always greener on the other side, Dad may have been telling you to want what you have. Many experts believe that this is the key to happiness.
Money doesn’t grow on trees is a seemingly simple expression that illustrates the value of money and hard work. One way to apply this to your life is to remember that credit cards are a tool of convenience and not an extension of your income.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch goes hand in hand with you reap what you sow. If you heard this while growing up, Dad was probably trying to tell you to stop looking for the easy way out. Most people will never win the lottery. In most cases, you will only get out of something what you put into it.
The very definition of a cliché suggests that a phrase is overused and has lost its originality. On the other hand, you might consider that there is a reason the expressions are spoken so often. So next time you are concerned that you are beginning to sound like your Father, remember that just may be a good thing.
-Take him out to the ballpark. Grab some cheap seats and some hotdogs for a fun filled “dinner” dad will love. (This is what Matt is getting for Father’s Day this year. Don’t worry—he hardly ever reads my posts!)
-Dine alfresco. Pack a picnic and head to the park. Spend some quality time with dad by playing a game of catch—something dads of all ages love.
-Peak early. Take dad out to breakfast instead of dinner. It will be a nice surprise and breakfast out can be much more affordable than dinner out. Plus, as many dads are fond of saying “the early bird gets the worm.” (In retrospect, I guess that was not a very appetizing choice of quotes!)
-Go for a sweet treat. Instead of an expensive dinner out, treat dad to dessert out. Fifty dollars can go pretty far at even the nicest restaurants when you skip straight to the last course. Or, head to the ice cream parlor where the nostalgia comes for free.
Don't worry if your budget doensn't allow for even a modest meal, a close second on dad's wish list is a home made gift.
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