It’s more about freedom than it is money Financial Freedom imageTrying to teach children and young people about financial matters can be tough. Everything seems such a long time in the future when you’re very young and, in many cases, the natural tendency in life is to desire material objects as status symbols – most notably when we’re young and impressionable.

There are many resources available to try and make financial matters more fun and interesting for children and young people – but most of these do tend to concentrate on the numbers, albeit often in very creative ways.

But one thing all young people very much can relate to is freedom. And real financial advice and sound management of one’s finances is really far more about freedom than it is about money itself.

Encouraging children from an early age to concentrate on life’s essentials and to eschew status symbols for their own sake can help give young people a solid grounding for their lives ahead. In other words; finances can be boring, but the freedom to be able to do almost as one pleases certainly isn’t – and this is something children and young people can very much relate to.

So if, for example, they think about life’s essentials (and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an excellent teaching tool in this regard) of home and income for the things in life we need rather than simply want – it’s a good starting point.

An excellent source of information on the wisdom of buying one’s home is available from HSBC. The study also shows just how disadvantaged those starting late in sorting out their finances will be in the future.

It was said 2000 years ago by the Roman philosopher Seneca that wealth is the slave of a wise man and the master of a fool. The quicker a young person can come to understand the true meaning of this philosophy – the happier they will tend to be in life. This is not about the pursuit of money, but the pursuit of freedom and the time we all need to really be who we are.

Encouraging children to seek out their true vocation in life, one which also provides a good or reasonable living, is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. Then managing the income that living provides and living well with one’s means as we steadily build the requisite capital to give us choices in life is also vital.

A lot of what modern society throws at young people, though, is not like this at all. The power of the commercial world in convincing young people that they “should” have a great car, the latest scents, a certain lifestyle, the latest mobile devices and so on – is immense. And much of the advertising is aimed specifically at the innate weaknesses most young people have as they try to establish themselves in society with their peers. It goes right to the heart of human nature and is a malign influence.

It’s our job as parents is to fight back and demonstrate to our children that rejection of short-term materialism and the things beyond our financial reach is a great way to achieve the freedom to do the things we truly want to do in life.