Military Saves: Teaching Kids to Save, Too

Save it spend it 300X250This is the sixth post in a seven-part series related to Military Saves Week. All this week we’ve covered tips to help you secure your financial future; from eating healthy on a budget to contributing to your Thrift Savings Plan, and getting your kids saving, too. Check back tomorrow for a wrap up of the week.

Much of who I am today can be attributed to how my parents raised me. Their influence affected my perspectives on everything from politics and religion to my favorite movie genres and even my chosen career field.

I like to give my dad credit for the sensible approach I take to managing my personal finances as well.

He taught me by example that you don’t need expensive cars and lots of things to be happy. He’s always had a used truck that he insists on changing the oil in himself, and he only buys new clothes to replace what’s worn out.

When I started my first job he showed me how to do my taxes, balance my checkbook and encouraged me to save my paycheck so I could buy my first car. A 1993 Dodge Shadow that I paid for without any help from him. Full disclosure: He paid for my insurance as long as I kept my grades up and paid for my own gas.

The most important lesson he passed onto me, though, was to never pay for anything with a credit card unless you had the cash to pay for it as well.

Today, my husband and I both drive cars that, while were purchased new, are paid off (I paid mine off in 14 months because I’d made a goal to do so before leaving active duty). We have an emergency savings account that could see us through three months of bills if one of us lost our job, and I’m still paying into it each month. When we do decide to splurge on something, like a vacation or television, we save up the money to pay for it before we make the purchase. That’s why we were able to go to Hawaii and buy a new T.V. last year.

While I don’t have kids of my own yet, I’d like to think that I will pass on the same lessons to them, because I want them to thrive financially as an adult so they don’t have to, ahem live with me until they’re 30.

That’s also why Barbara Thompson[PDF], director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy, children and youth, suggests you involve your kids in Military Saves Week too.

“During our Military Saves campaign it’s not just the service member and his or her spouse. We partner with our schools because learning about financial literacy needs to start at a very early age. We’re helping our children for the future so they won’t be entering the military at 18 with $8,000 worth of credit card debt.”

Need ideas for talking to your kids about saving their allowance? Watch this video with them, and be sure to visit the Military Youth Saves page for more resources and ideas.

For more on Military Saves Week, visit our video playlist on YouTube or visit Military Saves on Facebook and Twitter.

By Nicole McFarland, Defense Media Activity

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