I hear you out there. “Teaching financial literacy is a drag.” And it can be. Like most, you probably think about being in a math 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 teaching financial literacy. Especially not for your children.
There are many ways to teach, but the method I want you to focus on is storytelling. If you have spent any time reading my articles, 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 how I got back on the right track. I hope it is easy for you to see yourself in my stories of using 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 don’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 your stories to your kids. Your stories will resonate with them. We all have our stories of finical triumphs and pitfalls. Not one of us has done everything right or wrong.
Kids love stories of triumphs. They love to hear how David slew Goliath or when Jack chopped down the bean stock. But to give them the tales of winning, we need to share the parts about our falls and missteps. We often learn the most from the mistakes we make along the way.
So share those stories, and don’t sugar coat them. Give them all the details about overdrafts, debt collectors, or repossessions. Please give them the tales about being laid off, downsized, or 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 what you have learned from your journey.
Tell them that you contribute to a retirement fund because you don’t have a pension. Let our kids know that you maintain a rainy day fund because you have lost jobs before. Let them know that you won’t buy them that toy because it is not in your budget, and your budget is what makes sure that the bills are paid at the end of the month and keeps you out of debt.
Those stories will resonate with your kids in ways that textbooks never could.