By Winnie Kunene, money psychologist and trustee on the board of Truth About Money – a 1Life initiative
As a parent, I’m sure you can recall a time when you battled with the guilt of saying no to your children for that toy or sweet that they wanted while doing your monthly grocery shopping? Unfortunately, the reality is that those tough decisions are some of the most important ones you’ll have to make, as you prepare them for dealing with life’s disappointments. Most parents would agree that one of the toughest decisions that you’ll have to make one day, is to cut the financial helping hand for your children. Although, they might be facing financial burdens such as paying off student loans, underpaying jobs and extremely high living costs, the reality is that they won’t learn the ropes if you don’t teach them.
In fact, according to Winnie Kunene, a money psychologist and trustee on the board of Truth About Money – a 1Life initiative, it’s important to teach children how to deal with money from a very young age. For example, they must save up to 10% of what they are earning – be it from their pocket money when they are still little, or from their salary as soon as they take that first step towards the corporate world and earn a sustainable income.
There comes a time in a parent’s life where they need to realise the importance of letting go financially. With that said, let’s take a look at a few pointers that can guide you and your children when it comes to flexing their wings and becoming financially independent adults:
Teach your children the value of money – Teaching your children the value of money is critical, and the best part is, you get to be creative! This can range from taking your child with you to the bank when little, to comparing the prices of luxuries and necessities whilst doing grocery shopping and giving them the pocket money that they need to use during the month and save, should they wish to buy a special item for themselves. “It also helps to speak to children about budgeting as soon as they are old enough. You can even take it a step further and sit down together to draw up their monthly budget,” adds Kunene.
The importance of knowing when to cut all financial support for your children – Think about it, how are your children supposed to know and accept that you are reducing/cutting the financial support you give them, if you don’t manage their expectations effectively? “The reality is that it starts with you – you need to be firm about your children standing on their own two feet. It can start with something as simple as them giving you a 10% contribution of their first salary towards rent whilst still staying under your roof,” says Kunene. “Once you have taught your children the importance of managing their money effectively, you also need to be prepared to be ‘the bad cop’ and cut financial support, when the time is right. Learn to say no to unnecessary requests for money and stick to your word once you have made the decision.”
Struggling to break away – Do you feel like you don’t know when the right time is to break away financially, or that you are struggling to be assertive when it comes to disciplining your children around finances? Find someone that you can trust – maybe a best friend that is also a parent who is also struggling with the same issue. By using the buddy system, you can both encourage each other to stop spoon-feeding your children, as well as how best to go about it. In addition, you can also complete a financial education course from www.truthaboutmoney.co.za to empower yourself to master the art of managing, not only what you give your children financially, but your own money too. And the best part about this course, valued at R2500, is that you don’t have to pay anything to complete it. It is available for everyone!
“The truth is, tough love is a real part of everyday parenthood, even though some parents may even feel there is no right or wrong time to cut the financial helping hand for their children, as they still consider them to be their “babies” even once they move out and start a life of their own. However, it’s important to start today, don’t just talk without doing. Ensure your children are fully prepared for the financial challenges that life throws at them,” concludes Kunene.