A couple of months back, I read in an interview by actor Akshay Kumar that he did not want his kids to inherit his wealth. HE WANTED THEM TO EARN IT.
“Whatever they get, they have to earn it. I want them to be responsible human beingd who are also full of gratitude for what they have. If they want luxuries in life they have to work hard for them” said Akshay Kumar.
This makes me ponder further as to how in our normal lives we can induce sensitivity towards money in our kids. Going down the memory lane, I remember various instances where my parents refused to give in to our (my sister and me) whims and fancies and often put their foot down on our demands. The result, they have two daughters who are financially independent with decent savings to fend for themselves even if they do not work for next couple of years. Here are snippets from my childhood to give you a peep into how my parents instilled value of money in our young minds-
Let The Kids Earn What They Want
In school there were only four occasions when we received Game gifts from our parents. These were my sister’s birthday, my birthday, our mid-term exam results and final-term exam results. I remember exactly two occasions in my junior school when I did not receive the reward due to unexpectedly low performance. Once I understood that there was no shortcut to convincing the parents into buying me games or toys, I made sure that I achieved my targets.
For anything that we wished to buy out of turn, we had to have our own savings. (Remember those covers and tokens received from relatives during visits? Those were our savings.)
Parents need to be firm when setting a condition while agreeing to buy something of value for kids. This will not only make them work hard but also give them time to weigh their ardency towards their demand and their determination to achieve it.
Some DIY With Dual Motive
I remember the street hawker who used to come with pop-corns every evening. He used to give out only a handful of them for Rs5/- . For both us sisters my mom would have to spend Rs 10/- atleast. My mom usually refused to buy pop-corns from the hawker. She insisted on making them at home, often re-iterating the fact that for that much money she would make a tub full of pop-corns enough for us two sisters to feast on until dinner. Funny enough, this has stayed with me and even today when I go out for a movie I avoid buying pop-corns because somewhere in my sub-conscience my mom’s telling me “They are highly over-prices. For Rs 150/- you could make enough for the entire clan back home” Yes there are occasions when I cannot resist the caramel pop-corns, and chose to ignore my mum’s voice and go ahead and spoil myself by splurging.
It may not be possible to do things at home always, yet an insistence on your part now and then will help your kids observe that you intend to save money without compromising on the quality or fun element. This should go a long way in development of financial conscientiousness among kids.
Do Not Give In Too Easily Yet Do Not Be Too Stringent – Reason Out
As a 7 year old I loved the cream rolls sold for Rs 5/ – at a grocery store near my home. But my mom would not let me have them more than once or twice a month. So, one day I find 10 bucks lying on the kitchen shelf; I pick them up head straight towards the store and buy two of them. Because I can’t have both of them together, I have one and stash the second one behind my books in my book shelf to be enjoyed later. And I conveniently forget about it. After three days, my mother found a swarm of ants feasting on the cream roll. What followed was a ‘CANDID’ confession and a new deal. I shall help my mom clean up the kitchen every night post dinner and that would increase my ration to a cream roll a week.
So yes my mother had to give in to avoid any further instances of stealthy buying of rolls, but she maintained her side of bargain for letting me have what I wanted.
Avoid Obliging Immediately
Whenever my first crayon broke in the color set, I would begin my rant asking for a new set. My parents never gave in. They would tell me that there still is scope for me to manage with the existing set of colors (and rightly so)and that my work is not going to suffer for one broken crayon. In another instance, I wanted a new pair of shoes that were in trend, but my existing shoes were in good shape. Again my parents did not oblige. They told me that I would get a new one, when the old ones would be tattered.
In this age of consumerism, it may not completely possible to give in to the temptations of buying latest stuff for your kids. Yet we as parents should realize that in our endeavor to provide the best to our kids, we may be spoiling them for choices. Also, we may be encouraging a ‘Received on Demand’ attitude among kids.
Kids do not understand expensive or beyond bounds. Yet they can be made to analyse their demands by introducing hurdles/ road blocks to be crossed so that they can decide how bad they want something. If they really want it, they need to toil for it.