Aug 19, 2021

13 money lessons our team learned from their parents

As a parent, you’re teaching your kids and teens new things every day and they’ll carry these lessons with them through life. Just like you probably have tons of lessons you learned from your parents. And hey, so do we! 

Because money management is kinda our thing, we ran a poll at Greenlight: What is one money lesson your parents taught you that stuck with you? Well, parents, the answers are in. Read on to see if any of these sound familiar to you and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

1. Separate wants and needs.

This is a financial fundamental. For your kids, wants may be things like: new headphones, a skateboard, video games, clothes, boba tea. But needs? Shelter. Food. Water. Once you help your kids nail this down, they’ll be thinking twice about overspending in the checkout line. 

2. Stick to a budget. 

“No matter what, set a budget for yourself and track your progress toward it.” 

Is budgeting easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Y.E.S. Budgeting keeps us grounded and helps us set goals for our finances. Eventually, your kids’ budgets become a North Star for all of their financial goals. 

3. Put finances on autopilot.

“Put your savings and investments on autopilot. It’s easy to set up recurring transfers (weekly, monthly, etc.), and it’s one of the best ways to build wealth steadily over time.” 

We love putting things on autopilot. It’s not cheating. It’s being smart. One of the best ways for kids to start learning is with Round Ups. They can add change from their transactions right to their Savings.

Bonus: If you want to join the automatic party, use your Greenlight app to put allowance on autopilot. You’ll never miss a payday again. 

4. Create a money routine.

“Earn → set goals → save → invest → repeat.”

Just like routines for school or soccer practice, budgeting routines come in handy. If your kids can get into the habit of saving and investing with the money they earn, they’ll never have to think twice about it. 

5. Build credibility with credit. 

When it’s time to get a credit card, it’s important your kids understand that it needs to be paid off in a timely manner. Credit cards can be helpful, but they aren’t for neglecting expenses or buying things you can’t afford. 

6. Understand what happens when you spend.

“Growing up in Mexico, I learned: "El dinero no crece en los árboles." (Money does not grow on trees.)”

Once it’s spent, it’s gone. That’s why we set spending limits. We all need a gentle nudge every once in a while — spending limits help your kids learn when to say “no” to spending and “yes” to saving.

7. Invest early and often. 

“You’re never too young to invest. Even investing in fractional shares matters. Every bit counts.” 

Historically, investing in the stock market has made money over time. The earlier kids start, the more time they have to make their money work for them.

8. Pay yourself first. 

“Whether it be savings or investments, pay yourself before you pay your favorite companies for their goods and services.” 

Spending isn’t off limits, but it shouldn’t take priority over saving and investing. We all need an emergency savings stash, and investing is the key to building long-term wealth.

9. Make a rainy day fund. 

“Set aside money in a place where you won’t touch it. When you see it, you may be tempted to spend it. Everyone needs money for a rainy day.” 

A rainy day may mean a car breakdown. Or an unexpected trip to the doctor. Or maybe losing a job. No matter what, kids should store some of their money in a safe place for those “just in case” days.

10. Think before you buy. 

When your kids’ funds are healthy, they may think they can pay for anything they want. While they may be able to pay for more, it’s still just as important to think about the long run — which means saving and investing.

11. Talk about money. 

“Simply talking about money and being open about it is a lesson in itself. It doesn’t need to be taboo.” 

Money doesn’t need to be taboo at all! The earlier you talk about it as a family, the more comfortable your kids will be with planning, budgeting and managing money. 

12. Spend wisely. 

As you know, there’s such a thing as wise purchases. Similarly, there’s such a thing as unwise purchases. Case in point: Buying an expensive watch that will only be worn once or twice is not a wise purchase. But buying a timeless watch (ha!) that will be worn hundreds of times? That’s a smart decision. More of those, please! 

13. Avoid impulse buys. 

“If it’s something you need, buy it. If it’s something you want, wait a few months. Check in with yourself after a few months. If you still want it, THEN buy it.” 

For your kids, impulse buys may mean gum, snacks or random trinkets they find in line at the grocery store. It’s usually not a “need,” and it can get them into a habit of overspending. 

Curious if your kids have learned money lessons from you? Ask them! For more money tips, tricks and tidbits, read the rest of our blog.

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