I have to admit… I don’t have a definite answer for this one.
My wife and I have different views on this.
Generally, my wife thinks we owe the kids everything we can possibly provide for them. She came from a family that didn’t have much and had to struggle. She wants to make sure our kids don’t go through what she endured.
I grew up in a similar financial situation. In fact, for a short time at the end of high school, I was homeless.
As a result, I think we owe our kids a lot more.
I think we owe them the opportunity to struggle and “enjoy” the results of their own decisions.
If you think about people who are really happy, they are often the people who have overcome real challenges in life.
But those who receive without working for it struggle to find mean in their lives many times.
A few days ago, my daughter got her first paycheck from a job she got completely on her own. Her check was for $210.93.
Rest assured, I’ve given her much more than that on any number of occasions.
But she was more excited about ripping open that envelope and getting her paws on that check than by anything I could have given her. She kept talking about the joy of money earned – not the joy of money received – for days.
You can’t buy that kind of happiness, my friend.
I’m not suggesting that you stick a parachute on the back of your kids and drop them into Kandahar Province or Mogadishu.
But I do suggest that you really think about how you support your kids.
And while you’re at it, you might consider your real motive for what you give your kids.
I think we give our kids all this ‘stuff’ because we are selfish.
Rather than allow our kids the opportunity to struggle – and possibly fail… We spare them that experience because we don’t want to feel guilty.
We want to feel good about ourselves. Our giving is about us, not about them.
But at what cost?
Are we willing to send our kids out into the world without the toughness they need to make smart decisions?
Sure you should provide counsel if they are willing to listen. I may be going to extreme, but I share my entire financial plan with my kids. And they’ve started asking good questions about IRAs, life insurance, health insurance, and retirement planning.
Ever wonder why so many people get into credit card debt?
Ever wonder why so many people have spending problems?
Puzzled as to why folks can’t balance their budget?
Why do so many people need to improve their credit score?
Perplexed as to why throngs of people have no idea how to manage their money?
It’s because their parents never let them make financial mistakes.
When I was 14, I sold flowers every Friday and Saturday night. I earned minimum wage at the time – $1.65. I’d earn about $6 a night.
After work, I usually spent about $4 “living large” at McDonald’s. So after 4 hours of work, I had $2 in my pocket. Amazingly stupid of me, right?
It gets worse.
I did this for 2 years before I wised up.
I still sold flowers at age 16 because I couldn’t find anything better, but I started packing my own dinner. As a result, my earnings went up by 300%.
Do you think I forgot that lesson?
Well, I’m 53 now and my wife will tell you that the odds of seeing me in a restaurant are lower than seeing Big Foot in a restaurant.
I learned the lesson of being mindful of how I spent money, and that lesson stuck.
Tell your 14-year old ‘NO’ – you can’t have that skateboard unless you work for it.
Do that a few times. If you do, you won’t have to tell him to go find a job when he’s 30 and still watching Dr. Phil from your living room.
I’ll do you one better.
Let you kid go hungry if he’s mismanaged his money. Let her lose her car if she gets towed.
Don’t bail them out.
These are hard lessons. In fact, I find it hard to apply this approach myself.
But when I do, it always pays off for my kids.
And I owe them that.