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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kids. Money. Scream.

Just the word alone can make you nervous. Puts kids and money in the same sentence and you’re really in for a scare. Is there a way to teach your kids about money without going bonkers?

I have no idea. My approach was best described as "whatever works," if not completely haphazard.

We had chores, we had allowances, we had plenty of “no” responses to requests for things, and then we had too many presents on holidays, and I promise you:

I still have no clue about what I was doing or not doing--let alone if I was doing it right.

I have no idea if my son knows the real value of a dollar, five dollars or fifty, for that matter. He was really good at getting out of chores, but we nagged at him, and eventually he would do them, money or no.

On the other hand, we bribed him to do all kinds of things (homework, ironing, cleaning the salamander tank). Bribing is not recommended with kids, but in the real world, you do it, especially if you are desperate to get something done.

What about you? Do you get your kids to “earn” every dollar? What are your plans about helping them pay for college? (Ours got lucky because a grandparent died and left some money behind).

What about figuring out a consistent approach to money with co-parents after a divorce? (Cue incessant laughter from the audience).

What about grad school? (Don’t get me started). What about saving for your own retirement? Going through a recession and losing your job and wondering what you were going to do about all the expenses including college?

What about… putting your head under a pillow and screaming for the next 20 years?

The only thing that I think really worked well concerning teaching my son something about money was a job he took during high school at a masonry business. The owner was so mean and the work was so hard, he decided he really wanted to go to college because he didn’t ever want to work his life away in a place like that.

Of course, I had nothing to do with this decision or this lesson. So I can’t even take credit for it. But are artists really supposed to know how to be "smart" about money? What does that even mean? 

And no, I don't mean to use being an artist as an excuse, because it isn't. I just can't hold myself up as an example, and if you knew me, I'm sure you wouldn't want me to. As a complete failure at coming up with good tips on this topic, the only thing I can do is share some articles from people who, hopefully, know better: