On our way to adulthood, we have experienced two global crises: a recession and a pandemic. Many of us still carry mountains of student debt. Those years shaped our view of money, and now we’re teaching our kids what we know.
Here are the money lessons five millennial parents across the country want their kids to learn (answers have been edited for length and clarity):
“NEVER THINK YOUR CHILD IS TOO YOUNG TO LEARN”
Laurynn Vaughn, 37, from Kissimmee, Florida, is a single mother of two girls, ages 5 and 4. She runs a daycare that closed during the pandemic but has since reopened. She is also an active volunteer
“I don’t want to pass on the fact that I haven’t been taught anything about money. I think the earlier you teach your children the better. I already teach them that there are roughly three principles with money. The #1 thing is giving. The second thing is to save. And the third thing is what you have left is what you can enjoy. My principles are a bit different, there are really four: I pay the bills, then I give, I save, and I have money left over to enjoy. Teaching them to their level is better than not teaching them because you expect them to reach a level.”
“IT’S BETTER TO BE A WORKING STUDENT AND LEAVE COLLEGE WITH MUCH LESS DEBT”
Mae Waugh Barrios, 34, of Holliston, Massachusetts, is a mother of three children, ages 10, 4 and 2. She is an educational coach for the college and is on unpaid leave to take care of her children during the pandemic. Her husband, Francisco, runs a landscaping business. He has $20,000 left in student loans to repay.
“This is the biggest mistake I’ve made in my entire life. Everyone said go to any college you want, just take the loans. No one told me the real aftereffects of the loans students. My husband didn’t go to college. Our plan is to open a college savings account for (our kids) when I get back to work. It’s (also) better to be a student who working and leaving college with much less debt. My husband and I made sure that we didn’t get so bogged down in debt that we couldn’t survive. We talk a lot at the dinner table about being rich and to be poor. If you are rich, your money works for you. If you are poor, you work for money.”
“GREATER FOCUS ON EXPERIENCES”
Steffa Mantilla, 36, of Houston, has a 4-year-old son. She is a certified financial education instructor, former zoo keeper, and founder of the personal finance website Money Tamer.
“In our household, we put more emphasis on ‘experiences’ than ‘things.’ tickets to the local children’s museum or zoo We encourage loved ones to also provide experience gifts they can do together This emphasizes family and friends while teaching them how to live with less things around.”
‘DON’T BE AFRAID TO INVEST’
Alan LaFrance, 37, of Austin, Texas, has a 5-year-old son. He works in digital marketing and his wife, Meladee, is a respiratory therapist.
“You could pay cash for a car, but you could (get) a loan for that car and take that capital and invest it. If you can earn more with that money, you are in a much better situation overall. At some point, you can’t put everything aside, you have to start letting the money work for you. As parents, we want our children to save, but in reality, you can overdo it and miss a lot of opportunities.”
“BUILDING ANOTHER INCOME STREAM”
Jernessa Jones, 39, of Florence, Alabama, is a single mother of a 6-year-old son and is a certified financial counselor at Operation Hope, a nonprofit financial education organization. She graduated from an MBA program during the pandemic, bought a house and started a fashion accessories business.
“My mom and dad didn’t own a business and they weren’t owners either. I was looking for homes last year because home ownership is the first step in building generational wealth. I realized I could pay the mortgages for some of the houses I visited, but I would probably be housing poor. I decided to take a step back and see what I could do to create another source of income. Entrepreneurship was another thing I could teach my son. From start to finish, even when I opened my business bank account, he was there.”
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