5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Family Finances

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The “Friday Five” features five items to help you in your journey to financial freedom. They might be 5 tips, 5 tricks, or just 5 ideas. In any case it’s Friday, so here we go!

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My parents never talked to my me or my Sister about our finances. To be fair, my Dad really didn’t talk to us about much of anything at all other than how terrible the Seahawks were (this was the early to mid 80s, and they were stupidly awful), his fleet of semi trucks, or the chores we still hadn’t done.

I’ll retract that statement almost immediately, because my Dad did talk to us about money. Here’s how it went:

“Hang on to that Sports Illustrated with Michael Jordan on the cover. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hang on to that Bo Jackson rookie football card. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hold on to that Coke bottle telephone. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

You know what my Dad never held on to?

Money.

I’m not bagging on my Dad at all. My Dad started a business at the age of 18, built it up and sold it in his 40s, then parlayed that into a business that grew in value in the millions before losing it all due to circumstances FAR beyond his control.

Now in his late 60s, my Dad owns several small businesses in my hometown and is a staple of his community.

That doesn’t mean he was necessarily good with money.

As a kid I never knew how we were doing financially. I saw my parents buying lots of things; spots cars, satellite dishes, pools, ATVs, etc., but I never really knew if we had money in savings, or if all of that junk was purchased on credit and we were teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

It’s understandable why they didn’t share any of this information with their kids. Their parents survived The Great Depression, and was a generation that tried to forget about finances in general, not discuss them openly. They sure as hell didn’t share with their kids during that generation, and so my parents never felt the need to be super open with us.

When our finances took a dump on our collective heads in January, my wife and I decided that we would start talking to our kids about finances. We did this not to freak them out or add stress to their lives, but because we wanted to start teaching them to be financially responsible so that they can hopefully avoid our mistakes and live a financially independent life of their own one day.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to approach kids when it comes to discussing finances, especially if you’re in a bad way. Here are some of our favorites:Read More »

The Happiest Place on Earth

My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because, “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.”

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,303.52
Total Paid Off: $17,007.25
Income Going to Savings: 1%

Do you want to know what the absolute worst part about being in this financial situation is?

Let me rephrase…

Do you want to know the worst part about being a parent in this financial situation is?

Before I tell you, let me give you some backstory.

My wife and I got married at a very young age. I was 20, and she was 21. Of course that didn’t stop my grandma from asking my wife at our wedding, “Why’d you wait so long to get married?”

It also didn’t stop my Dad and his friends from sharing a jug of moonshine in the reception parking lot but that’s a story for a very different time.

As is the case with small towns, people in my hometown got married very young and had children almost immediately. My wife and I had lots of friends who either already had children or were expecting their first. We had a lot of catching up to do.

I don’t have to go into any graphic details since I’m pretty sure we all know how this whole baby thing works, but needless to say we got started right away. A month went by and we weren’t pregnant. (Lame!) Then another. (Oh come on!) And another. (Uh oh…) Months eventually turned into years. We saw several doctors and specialists, but my wife had some medical complications that resulted in a very low chance that we would ever (to borrow a friend’s phrase) “slip one past the goalie.”

It was difficult for me because I love kids, but it was absolutely soul crushing for my wife. At the top of her list of life goals was to be a mom. When we were in serious doubt that it would ever happen she used to say, “I’m not even going to be greedy and ask for 6 like I used to want. I just want 1. Can we please just have 1?”

This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to say, “AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED.”

It wasn’t really a miracle though. It was just that I got hired for a really great job, and they had really great insurance, and we were able to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

So that was great. What wasn’t great was seeing what my wife had to go through. If you’ve never been a part of the process or don’t know someone who has, let me just tell you that if I had so much as a shred of doubt that my wife wanted to be a mom more than anything else in the entire world, that shred was wiped clean the moment I saw the needles.

Sweet maple syrup there was a sh*tload of needles.

She had to poke needles in her stomach several times a day, she had to poke needles in her back hip (or I did) several times a day. Once she was at her sister’s wedding in Maui trying to give herself the shot in the stomach when she dropped the needle and stuck it in her foot! Fun Fact: The foot wound up having a health 7 pound baby toe, and they named him Randy. Everyone is very happy.

The point is that she went through so much for so long…

AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED.

We got pregnant! 16 years of trying, and we finally did it! We had a healthy baby boy, Sebastian, who is now 11 years old.

BUT THEN ANOTHER MIRACLE HAPPENED.

I’m sitting in my office at work a year or so after my son’s birth, and my wife calls to say she doesn’t think we’ll do IVF again. I said, “Because of the needles?” and she replied, “Because I’m pregnant!” That was our awesome daughter, Lily, who is 8 years old now.

So to say we went through a tough go of it to get our two amazing kids is an understatement. As a result of our journey to being parents, we quietly committed to making sure we never took our blessings for granted and did everything we could to make sure our kids knew just how much we love them. We tell them several times a day, every single day.

So aside from lots of hugs, and tons of smooches, reading books to them every night, coaching their sports, volunteering at their school, attending every recital and science fair, and everything else we could think to do, we also took them to Disneyland.

My wife and I LOVE Disneyland. It’s really mostly me, but she likes it a great deal as well. I’m an animation nerd, and a massive Disney fan. My office walls are lined with Disney figurines and Pixar figurines and movie posters for animated films, and all sorts off awesome things I have accumulated over the years.

For our honeymoon and 1st anniversary we even went to Disneyland. Yes of course you could make a case that we should have used that money to invest, and I get that. That’s not the point right now. The point right now is that you need to know how much we (I) love Disneyland.

So we took our kids on the most amazing trip ever. In the days leading up, I was almost jealous to know what they were about to get to experience for the very first time. My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.” He of course totally changed his tune after being in Disneyland for around 11 seconds.

They had a blast, but more importantly we as a family had a blast. My wife and I took every moment we could to enjoy that trip and consciously remind ourselves of all of those times we truly believed we would never have children, and here we were watching our two kids enjoy our favorite place on earth.

I’m wiping tears as I type this just thinking about that trip. Real talk.

So to go back to my original question: You want to know what the thing that makes me feel the absolute worst as a parent in this financial situation is?

Not being able to take my family back to Disneyland.

I fully comprehend that there are families out there that never get to go to Disneyland. There are families out there struggling to feed there kids. I get that. I feel fortunate that I have the memories that I do.

But Disneyland represented something very unique for me — It represented every moment of pain I saw my wife experience during the process with our son, it represented those 16 years of trying to conceive a child, and the 16 years of constant heartbreak that went along with it. It represented how much we hated not being able to make my Mom a Grandma for the first time, and the look on her face the day we told he she finally was one. It represented just how fortunate we felt to have those two amazing kids in our lives.

It’s selfish to feel this way, but hey… you asked the question!

Oh wait. I asked the question. My bad.

We will get back to Disneyland one day, and we won’t do it on a credit card. Even if we don’t make it back, we will hold those memories dearly and continue to be the absolute best parents we can be, because we know how close we came to never taking a trip like that.