Much of what you will focus on in your child’s money education is “nuts and bolts” or “how to” stuff, such as teaching your child how to read a bank statement.
There is another part of money education that gets less attention, however: vision. This goes well beyond the mechanics of finance and into a specific way of living.
Isn’t a Vision the Same as a Goal?
Having a sense of vision with money is more than just setting a goal. It is a collection of many money goals you set, a specific level of financial freedom or achievement you want to attain. For example, your goal might be to save $1,000 to take a family vacation. This is quite specific, and within this, you can set subgoals, such as saving 5% out of your next six paychecks. Your vision, however, might be to get to the point where you have enough money where you can travel freely without really thinking too much about the cost. This is much broader and doesn’t deal with specific amounts of money
Money Visions, Philosophy, and Ethics
Setting a specific money goal teaches your child to look forward and to prioritize basic wants and needs. This is very useful on a practical level. A money vision, however, is more advanced in that it is largely philosophical, involving ethical decisions. It gets your child to think about why he sets certain types of money goals. If your child has a vision of starting a charity to help animals, for instance, the underlying belief could be that animals are deserving of love, compassion, and good care. In this sense, a money vision is an expression of who your child is and how he understands the world.
Philosophies admittedly can change over time as your child gets new information, develops skills and gains experience. Even so, in many cases, the philosophies children establish early in life persist for years. This, in turn, means that money visions can be similarly enduring and that, once set, can take a lot of effort to shift. You are your child’s first and primary philosophical teacher, guiding them toward specific belief systems on a daily basis. If you want your child to have a specific type of money vision, you have to reinforce the philosophies that support those visions when your child is young. The only ways to do this are through good modeling and open communication.
Clearly, teaching kids about money thus is a much bigger job than just teaching them how an ATM machine works. It’s also about teaching them “right” from “wrong” and educating them on potentially hundreds of topics so that they can think critically about money from a general perspective. This is no small challenge, considering that other people will give your child information and opportunities that challenge the philosophies you are trying to instill, and it is a seemingly never-ending job, but consistency will help you yield success.