You’ve made the decision to finally be debt-free and dig out of this hole you have made. You are budgeting regularly and throwing every extra penny at that mountain. Then you are leaving the art show at school and the kiddos start begging for fast food because they’re hungry. Or your oldest is begging you for money for the book fair even though he already has at least 5 books at home unread. Don’t let these incidents derail you in your goal. Instead find out how to get kids on board paying off debt with these tips.
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Don't let #money incidents with the kiddos derail you from your #debtfree goal. Find out how to get kids on board paying off debt with these easy tips. Click To Tweet
I admit, my kids are my weak spot. It is so much easier to tell myself no than it is to tell my kids no. If you ask them I’m sure they would tell you I say no all of the time because that’s how tiny humans are. When they want a birthday party or money for something at school, however, I am overcome with guilt about telling them no. Unfortunately, the grandparents are not always helpful on that front making that guilt triple sometimes. You think, “They didn’t create this mess so it’s not right to punish them.”
Believe it or not, you are not punishing them. The fact is that in this stage of our life they need to be told no. It won’t kill them to have a small dinner for their birthday or forego that super cool eraser set at the book fair. Yes, it is not their fault that you’re in debt but this is not a punishment. It is a temporary stage of life so that you can live even better in a few short years. That is why it is so important to get kids on board paying off debt. It makes your life easier but also teaches them the valuable lesson of working towards goals and taking ownership of your mistakes.
Be Straight With Them
First of all you have to tell them like it is. Teach your kids what debt is, how you get it, and why it’s bad. Let them know your total debt and your plan for paying it off. I promise you that even being a thousand dollars in debt will seem like a lot to them because they cannot fathom that kind of money. Keep this conversation simple for young children giving them short specifics.
- Make this a positive conversation and let them know that you are choosing to pay off debt. Be very clear that this is not something they need to worry about and you aren’t losing your home or not having food. It is important that they know their basic needs will always continue to be met.
Make It Fun
Think paying off debt can’t be fun? Think again. It is easier than you think to make this fun for kiddos. This family even created a hashtag that they would say every time things come up that they aren’t spending money on. Eventually their toddler even started shouting out the hashtag. This got the message across while still being fun for the kiddos. You can also have rewards for them every time you go to the store and they don’t ask for something. These should be free things like extra game time on the XBox or 2 stories at bedtime instead of one. Create a list of ideas and share them with the kids before you leave the house to encourage the behavior.
Get Them Involved in the Goals
Remember when you set goals to help get you out of debt? Make these goals alongside your kids. Let them help pick the mini rewards that will keep your family focused for the long haul. Later, when they ask for things you can remind them of the next reward coming for hitting your goals. That can be a fantastic incentive to keep them on track with you.
Use Play Money
This tip is especially good for young children. Grab some of their play money and every time they ask for something and you say no, write the cost of the item down. When you get home, count out the cost of the item with them in play money and put it in a jar. As the money in the jar grows, they will have a visual representation of the money they’re helping you save when they don’t get those items. The fuller the jar gets, the more excited they will be.
You can use one or all of these tips to get your kids on board with paying off debt. You definitely want to do step one and be clear with them about what you’re doing and why. Everything else simply makes the journey easier. One last warning, keep an eye on little kids when using terms like “watch the money grow”. When our 5 year old got a bank for Christmas and we told her she could watch her money grow she asked how often she should water it. It was adorable but also makes you a little nervous about finding water in the banks. Don’t forget, paying off debt is a family goal not only a financial one. What ways do you get your kids involved in paying off debt? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
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