When we teach our kids to save, we’re only teaching them half the lesson and actually teaching them to become spenders NOT savers.
“Wait what?! You mean when I’m teaching my kids to save I’m actually teaching them the opposite? That doesn’t make sense?”
Okay, before you feel that you’re in a bizarro world where everything is the opposite, let me explain.
We all know that saving is good. So, it would make sense that we want our kids to learn this same valuable lesson. But, what are we actually teaching them? We’re teaching them that they shouldn’t spend all of their money. Instead, they should save some of their money so that they can spend it on something more expensive in the future. We are teaching them to want something that they can’t afford today and to save so that they can buy that thing later. We’re not only welcoming them into the rat race, we’re driving them there and pushing them in. By teaching them to save, we’re inadvertently ensuring that they spend the rest of their lives wanting more and constantly saving for that next thing as they constantly spin on the hamster wheel of consumerism.
Saving isn’t bad. We can definitely all agree on that. But, saving is only HALF the lesson. The other HALF is why. And, that’s what we’re failing to teach our kids.
So, if the WHY isn’t to buy more stuff, what is the WHY? Why should our kids save their money?
The short answer is, “Why not?”.
When we have money to spend, the default shouldn’t be to simply spend it. What if there’s nothing we want to buy? Instead of teaching our kids that money is meant to be spent, we should be teaching them why they would want to spend it. We should be teaching them Money Mindfulness; pausing and reflecting on why they would want to even buy something in the first place. We should be helping them figure out what’s really important to them. And then teaching them to only buy that and not everything else. Or, as I like to say, “Only Buy the Awesome Stuff.”.
That’s step one. And just by taking that single step, you will have already dramatically steered them away from entering the rat race of blindly spending which is so common in our consumerist culture.
What’s another reason to save? That’s easy. One of the best reasons to save is so that your money can work for you and provide you with financial freedom. Isn’t that what we REALLY all want? The ability to make decisions based on what’s truly important to us rather than solely based on how much we can afford to spend? This is how true wealth is built. It’s not built by buying more stuff, it’s built by creating more financial freedom through assets and investments that generate even more money and in turn, more freedom.
So, it’s not that we SHOULDN’T teach our kids to save. It’s that we SHOULDN’T teach our kids to save without also teaching them WHY. And teaching them WHY is how we begin to change the way we think about money and what it means to live a rich life.
This article initially appeared on Thrive Global