My parents were depression babies. That means they had to make due without many of the conveniences that we all have today. My father and his two brothers shared a single bed. This may sound strange and certainly subject to fights and bruises in the middle of the night, but it wasn’t uncommon in those days. They and my grandparents all lived in a one bedroom apartment in New York City. My mother had similar circumstances.
Like any good parents, my parents wanted to shelter their kids (me and my siblings) from having to worry about finances. So they told us very little. But you don’t get a good feel for what comes in and what goes out with respect to money. It’s difficult within those parameters for kids to feel like there are any constraints at all. We would just ask for money and sometimes they would give it to us and other times they did not. It’s when they did not when we got grumpy.
But we were down about the monetary rejection because we were always under the impression that my parents had a fair amount of money. This actually wasn’t true until later in my parent’s lives. My father landed some decent jobs and he started doing really well. I was already in college by then and almost ready to start out on my own. So it should come as no surprise that when I first started out, I didn’t really give much thought to spending. I did a lot of it. I never really had to worry about money because my parents sheltered me (and my siblings) from the finances.
Having the entire family involved in the finances serves several purposes. First, it gets them to see the actual inflows and outflows. When your kids ask you for things, you can site the family finances and they cannot argue with you. They will see it for themselves. Second, they will learn that there are constraints and when they set out on their own, they will already be of the mindset that incoming money is not unlimited. Third, they will be better suited to teach their children as well because they were taught by you.
Your entire family should be included when discussing family finances. It affects them as it does you. It gives them a lifetime education that has the potential to be passed on from generation to generation. Plus, everyone in the family will feel involved.