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Bad Habits About Money Kids Learn From Their Parents

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OolaGuru Comment: I came across this OolaApproved post when combing the blog-o-sphere at www.simpledebtfreefinance.com. As basic as it sounds, the knowledge posted is unfortunately not that common.

Children learn many things from their parents, and most of it is subliminal. We indirectly learn habits and behaviors by watching our parents, and when we become adults and have children of our own we pass many of those habits, behaviors and beliefs on to them whether we know it or not.

Here are the top 5 bad habits about money children learn from their parents.

#1. Arguing about money.

This is easily the most common habit picked up from parents, since money is often at the center of any disagreement between parents, and many people – parents included – do not know how to have constructive discussions on those disagreements. This can indirectly teach children that money causes problems, and lead them to place an unhealthy emphasis on money to the exclusion of all else.

#2. Spending money you don’t have.

The average college student graduates with $4,000 in credit card debt. Some of that is because the insane cost of college leaves little left for basic living, but few students are leaving home with any understanding of debt and why it should be avoided.

#3. Failing to price compare.

Whether it’s at the local mall or online, parents who don’t shop around for a better price have children who don’t shop around for a better price and that means spending more than you need. This leads to children becoming adults without an appreciation for the value of a dollar. For my part, my children have seen my wife and I Google for coupon codes so often before making a purchase that the first thing they say when they see something in the store they like is, “Let’s Google for a coupon code when we get home and see if we can afford it!”

#4. Spending money and not time with your kids.

Trying to make up for lost time with your children by giving them gifts reinforces materialism and teach kids that “things” are more important than people. Spend money on making memories instead. It’s what kids want, and parents will be creating stronger bonds with their children that help keep them on track later in life. When it comes to kids, it’s better to spend time than money. It’s better still to spend time teaching kids about money.

#5. Handing out money with no strings attached.

It amazes me how many people are angry with the government for bailing out banks, and automotive unions and yet see no problem bailing out their children. Bailouts, whether federal or parental, reinforce bad behavior. It teaches the recipient that there is no risk in making a bad decision, because someone will come in and clean up your mistake.

It creates a lack of responsibility, and an unhealthy dependence on the parent. Parents should consider this: One day you will shuffle off this mortal coil. Think long and hard about where your children will be when you’re no longer their to bail them out.

It’s also bad news for the parent because the money is often being redirected from retirement savings, leaving the parents unable to provide for themselves or their children.

It’s an insidious cycle that needs to be broken. Parents should realize that a little pain early on is worth it if their children learn to stand on their own two feet. Also, it’s much easier if started when the children are younger.

Money in the form of an allowance, tied to chores or goals is a far better reward.

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Co-Author of "Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World." Why listen to the OolaGuru? Need some street cred? Believe in "show me, don't tell me?" Some highlights:
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