Talk about “money personalities” might seem silly, in a 1960s, Age of Aquarius sort of way. But it can also lead to some great insights on how to raise money-savvy kids. As the ancient Greeks said, true knowledge starts with knowing yourself. This is why when we talk to parents, we ask them to tune in first to their own “money personalities” and then to do the same for each of their children.
To help things along, we use this “Money Personality” quiz. Quizzes such as this almost always reveal a tendency. And let’s face it. That tendency doesn’t usually come as a surprise. We know if we’re too careful or too reckless with our money, and so does our partner in life.
But getting back to the kids. While you may know the money personality of you and your partner, you may not pay much attention to the money personality of your kids. Parents often think: there’s not much we can do about that. But we think they’re wrong. While you can’t drastically change your child’s money personality, you can counterbalance the negative aspects of each money personality with the right kind of money messages.
Know Thyself, then Your Kids
Say you score the following in our quiz: Saver (5), Security Seeker (5), Giver (4), Flyer (3), Risk Taker (2). These tendencies – perhaps never counterbalanced by your parents – can cause you to forego buying things you know would give you pleasure, not to mention passing up on once-in-a-lifetime travel or business opportunities. In this case, what you could have used more of is positive money messages related to SPENDING and SHARING.
Once you recognize your own money personality, you can help your children to balance out theirs. Children’s money personalities tend to show quite young, before age 5. Encouraging kids to pursue their interests can be a great way to counterbalance their tendencies when it comes to money. If your young Spender loves to tap dance, she’ll find it a lot easier to SAVE for a dance event or GIVE to a dance fundraiser. Or if your Saver/Security seeker is into soccer, encourage him to SPEND or GIVE some of his money/time to soccer-related events. This is why LNWM’s NextGen Money team encourages parents to help their grade-schoolers develop interests, perhaps even using a scrapbook, list or some other way to bring out what they’re drawn to and care about.
Offset the Negative
As many of us have seen, children raised in the same family can have very different money personalities. And each money personality has both positive and negative attributes. What we as parents can do is to accentuate the positive, while offsetting the negative.
So next time you’re reading a book, blog post or article about raising money-wise kids, keep your child’s personality in mind. If your son is prone to spending, you might want to encourage him to save in all sorts of ways. But if your daughter is a saver at heart, focus more on smart spending, giving and sharing. And use each child’s budding interests as a basis for incentives and rewards.