My daughter Aayushi is a nineteen-year-old with excellent money habits. She doesn't go for impulsive shopping, is not overly obsessed with brands, and knows what is value for money. In short, I can trust her with money management.
She didn't develop this skill overnight. We introduced the concept of valuing money to her when she was around four years of age. At that time I was posted at Silvassa, a small town about 230 km north of Mumbai. Once in a month, on a Sunday we would go to Mumbai early in the morning to watch a movie, do some shopping and come back by the same night.
One Sunday while coming out of Inorbit Mall at Malad, Aayushi started crying and complaining that we didn't buy anything for her.
Somehow, we managed the situation that day. We also realised that during the last few visits, we had been buying something or the other for everyone. This created an impression on her that she was entitled to buy something for herself every time we visited the mall.
We did a conscious experiment on her.
My wife Ritu and I decided to enact a small drama because firstly, Aayushi was too young to understand the importance of money directly; and secondly, no one learns anything through a sermon.
We went to the same mall a couple of weeks later. Ritu and Aayushi were checking the women’s section of Shoppers Stop while I was loitering elsewhere in the store. Ritu casually selected a shirt, tried it on, and showed it to Aayushi, asking for Aayushi's opinion. Young Aayushi immediately nodded and seconded her. However, when they showed me the shirt, I appreciated the shirt and said, ”Just evaluate whether you really want to buy it. You have enough shirts for various occasions. If you still want to buy it, please go ahead.” While walking back to the women’s section Ritu discussed with Aayushi, “I think your Dad is right. I have enough clothes. It isn't necessary to buy something for myself every time.” And she kept it back on the rack. I too didn't buy any books, as I typically did when we went out.
Next time onwards, Aayushi never insisted on buying something for herself.
The three of us made it a practice to discuss the pros and cons of every purchase—howsoever big or small it may be. In the last 15 years, we have maintained this habit of discussing before spending.
Children must be involved in money matters right when they are small. Of course, we need to be aware of age appropriateness. Children shouldn't feel entitled to money just because they were born in a well-to-do family. Often, entitlement gifted by overly affectionate parents gets misused.
Children do not learn through sermons. They observe us and learn from our behaviour and habits. We need to practice whatever we want to inculcate in our childen. Small kids are perceptive. They catch our hypocrisy in a jiffy. Conscious behaviour of parents and open communication with the children constitute the bedrocks of good parenting.