My husband and I have often lamented that our parents—both sets successful in their careers, and financially prepared for retirement—never let us in on their bag of magic tricks when we were growing up. Now that we are adults and struggling to balance monthly bills while saving for our children’s education and our own retirement, we’ve vowed to ensure that whatever lessons we learn along the way, we will also teach our boys.
The most important lessons we want to share include:
A.) Honesty. It’s our job, as parents, to provide the shelter and sustenance, but we can also let them in on what we do for a living, and how the financial world around us operates, and what we are doing to save for the future.
B.) Learning from others. We don’t know it all, but we seek out experienced individuals who can lead us in the right direction, who can teach us good habits for success—in our relationships with each other and in our choices with money and how we spend our time. (No matter what career path we choose, there are great leaders before us who have lessons from which we can learn.)
C.) Giving. It’s good to get, it’s good to save—it’s essential to help others in need.
D.) Gratitude. Enjoying what have and being thankful for what we get is the cornerstone of personal contentment and happiness. Always wanting more is terribly unsatisfying and plainly wasteful. We want to demonstrate to our children what a great life we already have. (I think it’s working!)
Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS magazine summed it up beautifully in the magazine’s February 2009 issue:
8 Strategies for Building Abundance Attitude in Your Kids
Reward Responsibly – Don’t give rewards for promised future behavior. Reward when the goal is accomplished. Acknowledge the accomplishment and celebrate it.
Clarity – Be open about your financial state. Work as a family toward saving for a big item like a dream vacation. Adopt a family mission statement.
Everything is a Teaching Tool – Use economic and financial news, as well as the success stories of business owners as conversation starters or as talking points around particular issues. Inspire your kids by highlighting positive entrepreneurial stories.
Foster Support –You’re not necessarily the dominant adviser to your children. Kids need support, mentorship and encouragement from coaches, teachers and other influential people. Find out who your child’s favorites are and encourage their support of your child’s endeavors.
Encourage Networking and Innovation – Connect your children to people who have passion for what they do that’s of interest to your child. Encourage them to set high goals for themselves even if they don’t reach them.
Learn Business –The greatest teacher and confidence builder is to learn by doing. Encourage your child to take a part-time job, volunteer or start their own business. Programs like Youthpreneur give kids business skills whether for their own for-profit business or fundraising.
Giving Back – Show your children the power of sharing. Volunteering time and resources goes a long way toward teaching an abundant outlook by giving to the less fortunate.
Gratitude Attitude – Appreciate the things you have. Teach your children to take stock of and appreciate the intangibles like relationships, nature, shared experiences and things that don’t cost money.