Good Financial Advice Ages Well as the Years Go By
A lifetime of experience starts with the best financial advice children receive from their parents, wise words they can pass along to their own children.
James L Katzaman
“‘Don’t be stupid’ is good advice for life in general but applies to finances, too,” said Rod Griffin.
Senior director of consumer education and advocacy at Experian, he speaks from a lifetime of experience, starting with the best financial advice he received from his father. His calling is to pass such smarts to his children and his children’s children.
Griffin recalls more parental money treasures:
- “Buy the best you can afford.” The key word is “afford.” Good quality lasts longer and is a better investment.
- “Put some aside for a rainy day.” My dad’s advice wasn’t as specific as we get today, sometimes, but it’s still the foundational knowledge.
- “If you won’t die without it, you don’t truly need it.” That gives perspective on “wants” versus “needs.”
Other experts from Experian, a consumer credit reporting company, agreed that it’s important for parents to discuss finances with their children early and often: “You don’t have to be perfect with money to teach your kids. In fact, mistakes can often be turned into a teachable moment.”
As Griffin states, parents should talk to their kids about money relevant to their age and interest.
“Very young, maybe save for ice cream,” he said. “Older, there are the costs for a car or college. The key word is ‘talk.’ Don’t yell or fight. Have a conversation. The most important things you communicate might be said silently. What you do says a lot. Kids learn by watching you.”
The Ask Experian blog suggests talking to children about money when they ask for something they want. Make sure they understand the cost. Explain the importance of having a budget and saving for wants.
Avoid Bright, Shiny Objects
There is also the matter of a baby’s needs and a parent’s wants.
“Realize the ‘designer’ baby things you are buying aren’t really for the baby,” Griffin said. “The baby doesn’t care.”
Don’t feel compelled to invest in all the latest baby gadgets. According to Experian, much of what you see on the market isn’t necessary to have a healthy and happy baby. If you’re on a budget, start by creating a list of essentials and then splurge on the extras as your budget allows.
Parents can incorporate financial lessons into everyday life with their children.
“Teach them money is earned,” Griffin said. “We didn’t get an ‘allowance.’ We had chores, earned rewards for good grades and had to save.
“Share your money decisions as you make them,” he said. “Planning for a big buy — car, TV, vacation — talk with them about the process. Banks once had savings plans for kids. I’d go with my dad or mom when they made a deposit and made my own at the same time. They deposited dollars while I’d deposit quarters.”
A GoBankingRates article states that when kids talk about an item they want, ask them to price it out and present you with the best deal on it. This will teach them the importance of researching the best price and bargain shopping.
When Dad Stays Home
Sometimes it’s Dad who has to take a break from the workforce to care for the family.
“‘Break’ isn’t the right word,” Griffin said. “You’ve just taken on the hardest job there is. Just ask the moms. Continue to save if you can. Avoid borrowing from your retirement fund. You’ll need it later.”
Although real men never ask for directions, brave and humble souls ask for help.
“For those working, their employers may offer anonymous counseling support,” Griffin said. “Call them. Notify your creditors that you are facing financial challenges. They may have programs to help get through a rough time.”
If you feel as though you might miss a bill payment, Experian suggests contacting lenders to see if they have programs in place to help. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is also a good place to start.
Side hustles can also help reduce unwanted debt.
“Try part-time jobs on weekends or nights,” Griffin said. “I did retail when I was young to make ends meet. Saving for our house, I worked weekends doing data entry for extra cash to put in savings. There are lots of things you can do.
“This may be a shock, but my wife and I taught country dance on nights and weekends long, long ago for spending money,” he said. “In rural areas, there are usually part-time jobs around harvest time. When I was a kid, we all had a turn at bucking bales.”
Slicing Away at Pizza
Focusing on health now saves money and ensures you can share many more celebrations with the family.
“Better health equals less stress equals lower cost equals longer life,” Griffin said. “I just have to take my own advice and lay off the pizza.”
Another GoBankingRates article states, “Exercise can lift your mood, heighten energy, improve sleep and lead to a longer life.” Taking care of your health now can put you in better financial shape for the future.
Even on a tight budget, there are priceless ways to say thanks to parents.
“Give them a call, or stop by and give them a hug,” Griffin said. “That’s worth a million.”
According to Experian, one of the best gifts to give is quality time. Do activities parents enjoy, or just make time to sit down and have meaningful conversations more often.
Best parental advice might be repetitive, but it sticks.
“Don’t be stupid,” Griffin said. “It’s basic, but my dad was right. If you just aren’t stupid, and do a few smart things, you’ll be OK.
“More seriously, invest in your future,” said. “Take advantage of free money — like a 401k match — and save at least a little.”
James L Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a charter member of the Tealfeed Creators' program, focusing on marketing and its benefits for companies and consumers. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as subscribing here on Tealfeed.