I hear you out there. “Teaching financial literacy is a drag.” And it can be. If you are like most, you are probably thinking about being in a classroom with a teacher droning on. Or maybe when you hear the word “teaching,” you have flashbacks of notebooks, textbooks, and tests.
While all of those can be part of the learning process, they are far from the only ways we can teach. I would argue they are not all that effective when it comes to teaching financial literacy. Especially not for your children.
There are lots of ways to teach, but the method I want you to focus on is storytelling. If you have spent any time on my site, you have seen some of my stories. From outsourcing my paper route to plunging myself into credit debt, I have endless stories to share about managing and mismanaging my finances. I tell my stories to show you where I went wrong and also to show how I got back on the right track. I hope that it is easy for you to see yourself in my stories of using my credit cards to finance nights out. Or stories about not sticking to a budget when I knew I had no more money coming in and endless bills that didn’t ever stop.
Share Your Stories
While I hope my stories resonate with you, what I want you to do is to find and tell stories to your kids. Your stories will resonate with them. We all have our stories of financial triumphs and pitfalls. Not one of us has done everything just right.
Kids love stories of triumphs. They love to hear how David slew Goliath, or how Jack chopped down the bean stock. But to be able to give them the story of winning, we need to share the parts about our falls, our missteps, dare I say our failures because it is from failing that we learn the most.
So share those stories and don’t sugar coat it. Give them all the details about overdrafts, debt collectors, or repossessions. Please give them the tales about being laid off, downsized or being deemed surplus. We all get knocked down. But we are all still standing. Why? Because we all got back up. Show your kids how you are a fighter and that you have learned from your missteps.
Let them see that you are contributing to a retirement fund because you don’t have a pension. Let our kids know that you are maintaining a rainy day fund because you were fired before. Help your kids understand why you won’t buy them that toy, because it is not in your budget, and your budget it what makes sure that the bills are paid at the end of the month, and keeps you out of debt.
It is those stories that will resonate with your kids in ways that textbooks never could.