The American dream is always depicted as having a big, beautiful house. There’s a white picket fence that surrounds a large, well-manicured lawn. Parked in the driveway, you can find a shiny new car. From the time we are young, this package is presented to us. The American Dream seems to equal MORE and BETTER STUFF!
These days, we’re seeing an influx of people wanting to eliminate debt to travel, live simply, or just to have a clean slate. But wouldn’t it have been great to start your adult life with ZERO debt and ZERO intention of getting into debt?
We have a great opportunity to set our kids on the path to being debt free, but where do we begin?
The Way Kids Learn
First, it’s important to understand how kids learn!
Kids learn by seeing
Have you heard the saying, “Do what I say, not what I do?” Yeah, me too! But most of us, not just kids, learn by what we observe. This is called observational learning, or modeling. This method was first cited by psychologist, Albert Bandura. He found that children were more likely to learn a behavior by observing someone else exhibit that behavior. Furthermore, he found that a behavior was more likely to “stick” if it was modeled by someone that the child respected.
Kids learn by doing
It’s not new information that kids tend to learn better by doing rather than just reading about a concept or hearing about it. Research Area for Teaching has found that there is a significant “engagement gap” that needs to be addressed. This gap lies between conventional teaching methods and the resulting depth of comprehension. Hands-on learning helps to bridge this gap and prepare students for the 21st century workplace. University of Portland advocates for project-based learning, where visual, listening, and hands-on approaches are combined to help students retain information.
The Debt-Free Lifestyle
What do kids need to know to begin a debt-free lifestyle?
1. Buying Principles
There is an art to buying. As an adult, you’ve probably put some of these skills to practice without even realizing it!
- Resist Impulse Buying – Know how to use discernment when shopping to avoid emotional appeals.
- Compare Prices – What looks like a good deal, isn’t always the best bargain.
- Know the difference between NEED and WANT – Having discipline and knowing what are and are not necessities, can bring true contentment.
Budgeting is a hard practice, even for adults! But knowing the basic concepts and percentages of saving, giving, and spending can drastically change your money habits.
3. Confidence in Money Management
Money matters tend to be frustrating and complicated, but they don’t have to be. There is a confidence that is gained by putting smart money management into practice from a young age.
By combining these 3 fundamentals, plus hands-on and observational learning, kids can be on their way to The NEW American Dream… a DEBT-FREE life!