Save as They Say, Not as They Do

April 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Marriage and Money

You knew this was bound to happen. When it comes to saving money, some of today’s parents are telling their children to do as they say but not as they did.

A recent newspaper article represents this hypocrisy. A 49-year old father is instructing his 12-year old daughter in the wisdom of saving her money. While these words were coming from Dad’s mouth, old Dad is burdened by $25k in credit card debt, first and second mortgages, plus a $12k personal loan for a “travel trailer.” Mr. Willpower he was not.

It makes one wonder whether Dad admitted to his daughter that he was a financial moron. Or did he pretend that he had walked the talk?

The article also highlights the dilemma of many wannabee savers:  They have nothing to save. They are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

For parents in this category, are they telling their children that cutbacks in spending are needed? Or are they afraid of creating doubt in the kids’ minds as to Mom and Dad’s financial competence?

My suggestion is that the sooner you come clean with your children about your own money missteps, the better for the children. Otherwise, the mistakes of the parents are likely to imprint on the the children and start them off in the wrong direction. Incurring student loan debt is often a first sign that the kids have come to accept high-risk debt as a fact of life. “Good debt”, they say. B.S. I say.

Let’s hope the next generation of parents makes an effective transition to “do as I do” when it comes to personal finance.

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4 Responses to “Save as They Say, Not as They Do”
  1. MasterPo says:

    OTOH, you can say the father is trying to teach the son not to fall in the same trap as he did.

  2. Christina says:

    “practice what you preach”, but perhaps in this kind of situation, it’s not about practice what you preach but rather educating his kids on the mistakes he did. He still has the right and it’s not a dilemma in my personal opinion because as parent it’s our responsibility to teach them what we know, because we’ve been through it. Not because we were not successful about what we preach does not mean we don’t have the right to talk about it. Experience is a great teacher, if we can share this experience perhaps we can help…though it won’t guarantee their success, the teaching itself is a big factor.

  3. TMN says:

    I’m more disturbed by the fact that the girl’s weekly allowance is based on her performance in bowling. That just strikes me as weird.

  4. It reminds me of the helmeted kids you see riding bikes with their wind-through-their-hair parents, or the parents who insist that their kids eat their vegetables but who themselves never touch broccoli or corn.
    And if dear old Dad has $25k in credit card debt, it’s likely that his daughter has already imprinted on spending. Maybe not; maybe the cc debt is from medical bills or something. If not, she’s probably figured out that the way to get something is to whip out the plastic, not to save up for it.

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