Streetwise & Ka-Ching Wise

“I don’t want my children to struggle the way I did.” These are the famous words of many black people who are standing at the doorstep of the “mama I made it” part of their financial life. Many of us are driven by the struggles of the past to ensure a better future for generations to come.

However, as much as that statement can drive you to financial success and the best life for your offsprings, it can also be the exact thing that kills the legacy you so tirelessly worked for and have you raising a bunch of spoilt brats who think life is all about pressing buttons to get what they want.

In our family, we have the financially strict daddy and the ‘I don’t want my children to struggle the way I did’ mommy. I would say that the title quickly switched from that to ‘stingy mommy’ the minute our family grew to a family of eight. I quickly had to start remembering my husband’s teachings and try to continuously preach it to the kids. It was very important for me for them to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that there is actually someone working hard for them to have everything they see around them. I also needed them to know that just because you can get more, doesn’t mean that you should hurry to spend what you have.

So we assigned home chores to the youngest ones which would earn them points that they can convert into pocket money. This taught them that one has to work for your money, but unfortunately, we took the piggy bank approach to save and it was like trying to contain water in a bucket full of holes. We had hardworking children who were also hard spenders.

We are now sitting at the end of the year with just a month left to make a difference. It’s obviously too late to retrieve the money lost on sweets and whatever silly things they purchased without my knowledge but the wants brought on by the festive season hype gave us an opportunity to start talking about wants and needs and setting goals.

We firstly looked at those things they would’ve loved to have achieved by now, the reason why they think they failed to achieve their goal and the solution to the hindrance they faced. I then gave them a task to go and list down their goals for 2020, try to figure out what could act as an obstacle and possible solutions.

I haven’t received the lists yet but in the meantime, we went to FNB to get Youth Accounts because I was not about to go back to the failed piggy bank approach. We need to remember that at the end of the day they are still kids and will still have moments where they would rather add on to their gun collections than to save up. Therefore, it is important that they save their money somewhere secure where they wouldn’t have easy access to it and where I can help them to manage and have control over it. Somewhere besides my own account or purse where I am also likely to use it and get myself into debt. I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to owing to these kids. They’d be expecting me to withdraw R20 to pay them back at times when I don’t need to have cash on me.

We recently brought a Monopoly game and my brother had a bit of a difficulty in giving out change and I guess that bothered him a bit. So he started taking interest in how much things costs and would ask me what it means when a price tag, for instance, says R12,59 and I started using these opportunities to teach him money. I would explain to him how much more he would need to be able to afford it or for it to be rounded off to the nearest rand and have him work out his change based on a certain amount. I do this because you cannot have someone save something without understanding its value. A R100 could seem like a R1000 to a child who doesn’t understand money and you could have him budgeting for things worth more than the money he has. So let’s teach them the value of money, how to make financial calculations and most importantly, how to BUDGET!

All this effort of trying to get them to be money-wise had me thinking about how we go about spending money and reminded me that kids observe and take in what they have observed to create behavioral patterns. I have thus decided to be more ka-ching wise myself so that I can confidently preach and be more convincing and inspiring to them as they would be witnessing that which I preach on a daily. It’s taking small decisions like not having takeaways or lunch money for a month to help save money towards a family vacation or something that they have asked for.

We are currently sitting on eight mouths to feed and one on the way. Soon we will be “Cheaper than a dozen” family and we will need most of this dozen to be Ka-ching wise for us to survive. Feel free to share any advice on teaching kids to save.

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