A Worldwide Epidemic
If you want to save your family money, you need to practice what you preach—you need to clean up your own finances. This can be difficult—and you’re not alone.
There is something which happens when modern financial practices combine with human nature. Everybody is constantly trying to “keep up with the Joneses”, as the expression goes. Everyone wants that nice car, those nice clothes, that nice jewelry, that exceptionally amazing entertainment system, or that crazy new video game machine. When friends and family are able to get what you want, and you’re not, you may make some poor choices.
Debt And Consequences
One of the worst things a person can do is get into debt. This is also, financially, one of the best things a person can do. The key is understanding the difference between good and bad debt. As complicated as that may sound, it’s something even a child can be led to understand.
It’s important to instill wise financial practices in children early on; it is estimated that children as young as three years old can understand the basic concepts of saving and spending. By the age of seven, many lifelong money habits have already been imprinted into their minds.
If you don’t get ahead of that quickly, it’s likely your children will have some distinctly bad habits they need to overcome. Perhaps they won’t, but there’s no harm double checking at the least. Start teaching them early, and it is likely to be a much less damaging issue.
Teaching Your Children
How can you teach them to understand the difference between good and bad debt? Well, you’ve got to show give and take, investment and harvest, without using the big words which describe them. For example, if you go into debt for a collegiate education which ultimately ends up paying you more via career than it cost you, you’ve made a good investment.
If you buy a home, mortgage it, fix it up, enhance it, and sell it for more than you bought it for, you’ve made a good investment. You might teach this to your young one by paying them for small activities. Their investment, at this point, is time. You may pay your child a few dollars to do some cleaning for you.
A better way to do it is through a weekly allowance. When justification is immediate, children may get the wrong idea. Furthermore, they may not put in the requisite work for the money they’re getting. This can lead to investments made during adulthood which fail to mature.
Differentiating Between Good And Bad Debt
The key to good debt, versus bad debt, is that good debt yields a positive financial result. Good debt is, in a way, investment. Bad debt yields no positive financial result. Credit card debt, gambling debt, financing debt—these things just drag a person down. Investing in a house has a different effect.
At some point, you might want to “spring clean” your finances. This will help you find areas of spending that aren’t necessary, and curtail them. Cut out designer/luxury “coffees” and you could save thousands. If you buy one a day at an average of $5, that’s $1,825.00 a year. If you do the same with fast food, you’re spending $3,650.
Or, you could prepare your own meals, make your own coffee, and save around $3k (after diminished home-preparation expenses) a year. Then you’ve got capital to experiment with in terms of investment. There is also an alternative of going the other way, like taking a quick loan from sites like Swoosh.
If you can mature your $3k investment by, say, getting a used car which lasts for three years with it, or something of the kind, you can gradually increase individual affluence and use your burger/coffee money to pay it off. This is a hypothetical strategy, but you get the idea. Learn where to invest, and how.
Cut out unnecessary expenses, and ultimately be an example to your children. They’re going to learn anyway, you might as well take their financial education in your hands.
About The Author
Stephanie here – happily married military wife living in the sunny South. We have a girl and a boy who keep me extremely busy!
I’m 28 years old, and I am a stay at home wonder woman who also freelances in her spare time.
Travel was always my passion but married to a military professional has imposed some challenges to it. Still, we manage at least 2-3 trips a year, one of which with the entire family.
Check out her blog Military Travel Mama.