Contributed by Mother of Two and Money Savvy mother, Catherine Elek, Gold Coast Australia

Let’s talk about…(no, not the birds and bees today!)

Let’s talk about… financial education and parenting. It’s a topic that keeps popping up and for a good reason – money continues to pervade all aspect of our modern life and for this reason, today’s parents need to be financially savvy and literate, as do their offspring.

Imagine for a minute all the bills you pay on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Let’s start with those that come to mind…food, drink, clothes, toiletries, petrol, car registration, car insurance, phone/internet bill, pay TV, life insurance, mortgage/rent, entertainment, car repayments, electricity, water, health insurance, holidays, presents, school fees, charitable donations etc. The list is exhaustive and you probably have some of your own to add in. And while you are considering the reality of the above, what about all those monetary surprises that come along…like the $227 speeding fine that arrived in the mail for me today. Ouch. Another bill.

So here it would seem, was a perfect lesson for my girls. When I picked them up from school, I told them about my fine and how much I had to pay. $227! Imagine what we could have done with that money girls! That could pay someone’s grocery bill for the week. Of course my girls would probably think of lots of other things they could spend that much money on. Then I discussed how many people I know are getting speeding fines…”Megan got one for $150″, I said. “Was hers more or less than mine? How much more was Mummy’s? What sum would you write for that equation?” Suffice to say my 9 year old struggled to do the math and that exasperates me no end…but’s that’s okay…she’ll get there. And after all, she can sing, dance and play the violin and piano much better than me!

My point is though, that each bill you get, show some to your children and talk about them. Make money a subject that is discussed in daily life and for this, bills are a great way to start. It also opens up discussion about so much more! From why we shouldn’t speed, to what insurance is exactly and what sort of things we can insure. You can also discuss how you might reduce some of your bills e.g. if you have a high electricity bill over summer/winter, explain that perhaps it’s more this quarter because why? We did use the air conditioner a lot. And perhaps we should try and turn of lights if we aren’t in the room…because each time we use a light, it is costing us money and wasting energy.

Discussing money doesn’t have to be droll or boring and it certainly shouldn’t be taboo. Like everything in life, it is how it is approached and presented. By making it real, you are hopefully equipping your children with a great monetary education and one that they probably won’t receive in school. Money is what makes our modern world go around and whether you have a little or a lot, it is a good idea to lay foundations early, so in time your children will know how to a) build wealth and b) keep it.

And then when you get a surprise bill, like my speeding fine, that’s where you can start to talk about savings and how important that is. Because without savings, how are we going to pay this bill?

So give it a try. The next time you get a bill, don’t just throw it in your ‘in’ box to deal with at a later date, give it some meaning and talk about it with your children.

“Mum, are you sad?” (After I told them about the $227 speeding fine). “No, I’m not sad…I’m mad!!”