We Can't Buy Everything at the Toy Store
We live in a world of instant gratification. This is something that Kris Wanner – and any parent of a small child – knows all too well.
Kris and his wife Lisa want to help their six-year-old daughter understand money. Things like the difference between needs vs. wants, and saving vs. spending. But like most parenting, it doesn’t come without a challenge.
“We do our best to explain how money works,” says Kris. “She is gaining a good understanding of what things cost. But she can still get quite frustrated when we can't just buy all the things at the toy store.”
But Kris and his wife persist. They know how important it is for parents to talk to their kids about money, even if finances are a touchy subject. Financial decisions are something that affect us all through our lives. And Kris believes the more we talk about it, the better.
“People don’t like talking about money,” Kris says. “There are a lot of feelings of fear and shame around it. But it’s important to have these kinds of discussions early in your child’s life. You can help them get used to talking about it, and at the same time find fun ways to save money.”
Kris calls himself a “second generation Credit Unioner.” His father also worked in the Credit Union system for 30 years, and Kris himself has been working for Conexus for over 10 years. During this time, he has focused on teaching financial literacy to high school and university students. It is something he believes this age group needs most, especially in these hyper-connected times.
“On social media, what we see is a lot of other people who all seem to have more than us,” says Kris. “And every single new university student will, at some point, get offered a credit card. It is really easy to make a mistake if we don’t understand the difference between needs and wants, or the importance of saving over spending.”
Parents can also help prepare their kids by saving for their education. Kris believes, RESPs are a crucial part of this ongoing conversation.
“The grant money offered by RESPs is essentially free money,” says Kris. “You are guaranteed a 20% return on your investment every year, no matter what the market does. That’s a smart investment that can offer a huge impact.”
Saving for your children can have challenges however, especially in a world where everyone turns to the internet for information.
“Don’t get me wrong, the internet is great for a lot of things, but you need to be wary of your source,” says Kris. “Make sure you use resources you can trust, and when in doubt, talk to an advisor who can help you make sense of it.”
“This is where an organisation like READ Saskatoon really plays an important role,” says Kris. “They offer parents a trustworthy source of information and guidance along the way.”
Kris believes patience is required – both when talking to your kids about money and trying to figure out your own financial picture.
“We can all find reasons to spend instead of save,” says Kris. “We can tell ourselves ‘I’d love to save, but…’ It really comes down to just starting – even a small amount can make a big difference!”
- Kris Wanner