How to teach your son about money
By Tony Mecia
It is hard to change who people are, but boys should know that they will be more of a risk-taker.
Getting rich -- and showing it off -- has traditionally had a higher payoff for men. Evolutionary biology holds that women tend to prefer partners who are able to provide resources for rearing offspring. Indelicately put, chicks dig guys with money. A 2012 study by researchers at the University of York showed that preference to be generally weaker in societies where the genders are considered more equal, but it's still a strong reality in the U.S.
Earning money is great. It can become a problem, though, when the impulse to prove your wealth translates into spending. Barbara Emery, program coordinator for the Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, says she thinks the focus on spending starts early, when young women become conscious of fashionable clothing and young men are encouraged to compete with each other in sports and other areas.
"For a lot of adults, it's not keeping up with the Joneses -- it's trying to surpass the Joneses all the time in everything," she says. One important lesson to teach early, she says: You can't have everything you want, because everyone's income has limits.
Women tend to manage household finances more than men, but there's no reason that both sons and daughters can't be more involved in their family's budgeting. You don't have to reveal more than you're comfortable with or more than your children will understand, but starting those kinds of conversations early can help boys learn about finances and credit.
"Start to talk about your family's goals, when you want to retire, how you're paying off debt, and show them your household budget," Shorb says. "Parents should share what they're doing financially, good or bad."
Renee Martinez, a mother of four boys in Cleveland, says she tries to teach her sons the value of money by not acceding to demands that she constantly buy things for them. On a recent trip to Target, she says she was proud that not one of her sons begged her to buy something.
"You can't start early enough educating your kids that money doesn't grow on trees and that we need to be responsible, even though the idea of credit is so appealing," says Martinez, who blogs about raising boys.
Be a role model
For both boys and girls, it's important to remember that children are perceptive and can often sense if you don't practice what you preach, Hira says.
For instance, if you tell them not to spend money on frivolous items and then go on an impulsive shopping spree for things you want, that sends a mixed message. So does demanding that they save part of their allowance -- while not socking away any of the money you earn.
"Children can't be fooled," she says. "They are very smart. Our research shows that they are learning when you don't know it, because they are watching you."See related: Infographic: How men, women divide money-related chores, 5 credit lessons all parents should teach their daughters, Infographic: Who handles the budget? Both men, women say they do