Financial Behaviors You Don’t Want Your Kids to Learn from You
Having poor financial habits is bad enough when you’re young and single. But it’s even worse if you have kids who are looking to you as a beacon of valuable money insights.
We’ve outlined 4 financial behaviors and attitudes that you won’t want your kids to copy from you, including trying to keep up with the Joneses, as well as not worrying about debt and knowing how to pay it off (like using a debt consolidation loan).
Financial behaviors you don’t want your kids to copy
1. It’s important to keep up with the Joneses
Teddy Roosevelt is famously attributed with saying that comparison is the thief of joy. Wanting what others have can be normal. But maxing out your credit cards to keep up with the latest car model or handbag is a recipe for financial disaster. If your kids always see you bemoaning what you don’t have and buying like crazy to keep up with a wealthy neighbor, they’ll think that kind of frivolous spending and discontentment is normal.
2. Debt isn’t a big deal
While debt in America might be common, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a big deal. The longer you stay in debt, the more you’ll have to pay off due to interest payments. Set a good example for your kids and do your best to pay off your debt. Common ways of paying off debt Include the debt snowball and debt avalanche plans, as well as debt consolidation.
- With the debt snowball plan, you’ll focus on paying off the smallest debt first. You’ll continue to make minimum payments on all your balances, but you’ll put extra money toward the smallest amount. Once that’s paid off, you’ll focus on paying off the second smallest amount. The debt snowball method is a good fit for those who need to feel motivated.
- With the debt avalanche method, you’ll focus on paying off your highest-interest debt first. You’ll still make all your minimum payments, but cash will go toward the balance with the highest interest. Once that’s paid off, you’ll focus on the balance with the second highest interest. The debt avalanche method can help you save more overall.
- With debt consolidation, you’ll combine multiple debts into a single monthly payment that ideally will have a lower interest rate. Different ways of consolidating debt include personal loans and balance transfer credit cards.
3. YOLO: Money style
It’s true that you should live life to the fullest. And that you only live once. But life will probably feel a lot longer (in the bad sense) if you’re constantly plagued with money issues. Teaching your kids that life should be enjoyed but also that it’s important to spend wisely and set financial goals will help them avoid falling into a YOLO spending trap.
4. Credit is king/credit is evil
You don’t want your kids to think that credit cards are basically free money. You also don’t want them to fear using credit cards as a spending tool. After all, responsible credit card usage is a great way to start building credit. Instruct your kids on how to use credit responsibly and why credit cards can be great financial tools when used responsibly. By paying on-time and in full—and keeping an eye on their credit utilization ratios—they’ll be able to build healthy credit scores.
If you’re guilty of some (or all) of the bad financial habits above, don’t despair. By taking baby steps to improve your money behavior, we know you’ll be a great role model in no time.