My daughter has a paper due in her Philosophy class this week. The teacher won’t grade the first paper, yet my daughter was still nervous about her first college assignment. “I hope I don’t blow it,” she told me. “
This is a good one to fail on,” I told her. “If you go amiss, the teacher will most likely make comments and you’ll learn from your failure.”
In the past two weeks, America failed. We received a failing grade in our ability to handle our economy. Before we join the politicians in pointing fingers, let’s admit it. All of us have been guilty of spending more than we need to, of overreaching our ability to pay. All of us have been guilty at one time or another of the sin of coveting, of wanting more than what we have. So, like my daughter learning from her mistakes, what can we learn from our failure? More specifically, in light of the theme of this column, what can we learn to teach our children about financial security? I’ll cover a few ideas this week and save the rest for next week.
1. Grow in self-control. Teach your kids now how to control their impulses. The best thing you can do for your kids is to not let them have everything they want. If you do give into every childish whim, it will be all too easy for them as adults, to whip out that credit card so they can purchase whatever meets their fancy, whether they need it or not.
2. Replace self-indulgence with self-sacrifice. Teach your kids to think of others and their needs. Teach your kids to do without. Teach them to be flexible. Try doing without catsup on a hot dog one evening or eat toast with either jelly or margarine but not both. Teach them to share by having two children time split a soda instead of each having an entire 12 ounce can. Like Jo and her sisters in the classic, Little Women, have them share an important meal with someone who has none. Challenge them to say “no” once in awhile to offers of candy at school just so they can learn the power of saying “No.” Learning to say “no” will make your child stronger and enable them to endure when they do have to do without.
3. Avoid debt. Debt is a kind of bondage. Someone once said that debt enslaves your future income to your creditors. Debt allows us to have things before we have the money. Teach your child now to save their money for the big items instead of spending it on little things. Don’t bail them out if they don’t have enough. Repeat often: don’t buy something unless you have the money to pay for it. Help them set up a savings account and make it possible for them to get to the bank to put money in the bank so they can save up for the big item they want.
Come back next week for more ideas on teaching the next generation how to avoid economic crisis.