5 Great Money Questions To Ask Your Kids
“Money to me is the way of life. If we don’t have money, we can’t buy anything. Then, our financial plan would be ruined and we wouldn’t have enough money to take care of ourselves later.”
Sounds great, right? However, this is not an excerpt from a finance book or from an article written by a financial professional, but from an essay by my then eight-year-old boy Jason. He is 12 years old now.
When he and his twin brother, Matthew, were in the third grade, I gave them a “Finance Book Project,” as a part of many reward projects. Ever since they were in kindergarten, both boys have diligently worked through various reward and incentive projects I created for them. This particular project was mainly focused on reading and writing about personal finance using different resources available on the Internet. It included interactive games, finance-related videos, articles and even biographies of financially successful people.
With this project, they learned basic finance by playing money related games and by writing essays each week. In his essay, Jason continued, “The meaning of money for me is like the key to living a successful life. If you have a lot of money now, you should save it, not spend it all. Some people say spend spend spend. No! You should save even though you don’t get an item you want right now!”
This story is cute but telling. We are shaped by our thoughts, and our kids’ thoughts are often shaped by their parents’ thoughts. Therefore, we parents need to be more intentional and purposeful with our thoughts, especially about finance, because our children’s thought lives heavily depend on ours. Our children learn by first imitating us, even our thoughts!
Do you know what leads to good thoughts? Good questions that lead to good answers. If you want to know what is going on in your children’s minds about money, work and success in life, first create an age-appropriate reward system that is inspiring them to do the work. And then ask the questions that will make them think and have them express their own thoughts in writing. They will tell you the most marvelous things! Here are some of the questions I asked of my boys when they were younger:
1. What is money and why is it important to save money?
2. What are the top 10 chores you can do at home to earn money?
3. If you don’t get an allowance from your parents, where can you go to earn it?
4. What would you like to do if you had a million dollars right now?
5. What does college mean to you? How will you save money for college?
The list can go on and on! Create your own questions, custom-tailored for your children—with a little imagination, you could even make them funny! Writing essays about personal finance makes learning fun and teaches life skills.
Our common objective as parents is to encourage children to see that there’s more to life than the reality of what they see and think in this moment and to equip them for those things. If you haven’t done this kind of fun inquiry with your kids before, you will be astonished to find out how they think; it’s like they are in an unlimited possibility zone. It can make you laugh and cry at the same time!
Sunny Lee is the author of Is Your Child a Money Master or a Money Monster? She is a mother and respected and trusted financial advisor serving clients from all walks of life. She currently resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California with her family.