I went to our big family Christmas party at my dad’s house on Saturday night. As we were talking after dinner, the conversation turned to finances and parenting. We began to discuss the things we assumed as children, from watching our parents’ behavior.
Alex, my brother-in-law, mentioned that although his family didn’t have very much money, he always thought they had money. Why? Because there was a little plastic card his mom would take out, put into the machine, and cash would come out.
I remember being at the store with my mom as a child. I begged for a toy, and my mom told me that we didn’t have the money to buy it. My response? “You can write a check!”
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using ATM cards or writing checks. But as parents, we have to make it a point to explain debit cards, credit cards, and checks to our children. From a child’s perspective, debit cards, credit cards, and checks are an endless supply of cash.
You’ve probably heard this commercial on television:
There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.
At every turn, our children are being told that you don’t actually need money to buy things. And I think that feeling is reinforced when they see their parents whip out a piece of paper or plastic to pay for things at the grocery store. I don’t want my children looking at a little plastic card and thinking it will buy them whatever their little hearts desire.
At the very least, make sure you explain to your children how credit cards, debit cards, and checks work. Explain how the money is put into your bank account, and that you can’t spend more than what you have in the bank. Otherwise you run the risk of desensitizing your children to credit cards, and that could get them into big trouble when they start college.
Have you talked to your children about how debit cards, credit cards, and checks work?
Photo by nicolasnova.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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