When I was a child, my mother taught me the value of saving money. We didn’t have a lot of money and we had to count every penny. My mother was a master of budgeting and making wise financial decisions. She always emphasized the importance of wants vs needs and made it clear that she would take care of my basic needs. If I wanted anything beyond that, I had to save the money to buy it myself.
Once when I was in middle school, I wanted an Izod shirt. These polo shirts with the alligator emblem were all the rage. My Garanimals shirts simple were not stylish enough for the middle school crowd. I begged my mother to buy me one, but there was a small problem. The shirt cost $30.
“I don’t know why you’d spend that much money on a shirt,” my mother said. “But you if want it, you know what you have to do.”
I was determined to have that shirt. It was the basic building block to the preppy outfit that I was planning – Guess Jeans, Penny Loafers, and Members Only jacket (not that I could afford any of these items).
I spent the first half of my sixth grade year saving up for that shirt. I collected aluminum cans and glass bottles, did extra chores around the house, and saved every penny I received as gifts. I even skipped lunch and pocketed my lunch money (my mother would not have approved).
After saving the money to buy that shirt, a funny thing happened when I went to the store to purchase it. I couldn’t do it.
When I considered how hard it was for me to save the money, I decided that a buying $30 shirt was not worth it. I put my money back in my pocket and continued to save for something I considered to be more valuable.
My mother was confused by my decision, but she was proud that I had made a wise choice. As a reward, she took me to a thrift shop where I found an Izod shirt and a pair for jeans for a fraction of the price.
She also helped me to open a bank account where I started depositing my money. Filling out the deposit slip and handing my money to the teller always made me feel like a grown-up.
When it was time for me to go away to college, I had saved up enough money to buy books for my first semester and decorate my dorm room.
While I was in college, I saved money from my summer jobs to pay for expenses. If not for my discipline, I would not have had enough money to complete my education. It was hard to miss out on activities with my friends, but the sacrifice paid off in the long run.
I teach my children these same lessons about saving and managing money. Although I can afford to buy them more things than my mother could afford to buy me, I still teach my kids the value of money and how not take it for granted.
I have set up bank accounts for my kids and they have found ways to earn money. My 11-year old son cuts his grandparents’ lawn and my 13-year daughter babysits our friends’ children.
One day, my daughter came into my office to ask me a question.
“How do you buy stocks?” she asked.
“Why do you want to know how to buy stocks?” I asked.
“Because I plan to start buying stocks so I can have enough money to buy a car and pay for college,” she said.
“That’s a good plan,” I said. I proceeded to teach her about the stock market and the value of compound interest.
All kids won’t be interested in investing in the stock market, but it’s important to teach them to invest in themselves. As parents, we must teach our kids the value of saving money even if it means that they cannot get the latest video game, fashion accessory, or tech device. These valuable lessons are the foundation for their long-term financial success.
Join the conversation: How do you teach your children about the value of saving money?
Disclosure: The Coca-Cola Company provided promotional consideration for my participation in this program. All opinions are my own. I encourage you to take the time to nominate a deserving teen because this opportunity could make a huge difference in his or her life. Visit coke.com/payitforward for complete rules and eligibility requirements, and join the conversation online using #CokePayItForward.