A new study says that increasing personal debt will force today's kids to keep working past the age you retired plus 12 years.  How depressing!  If you intend to retire at about 70, think of what your kids will be facing when they are forced to work till they are 82.

When I think back to my childhood, I wish my parents had told me how better to handle my finances.  The problem was:  they weren't so good at it, either.  They gave to the church, they paid their bills, but they rarely had money saved for emergencies and they didn't work on saving money for retirement.  Both my brother and I went to college -- and we paid for that ourselves.

Here are the things I wish my parents had taught me . . .and the lessons I am teaching OUR son:

1.  Just Because You Have It, Doesn't Mean You HAVE to Spend It:
The idea of a savings account for a kid is a great one.  Teach them to always spend some, save some and give some.  Let them see how their saving and giving can impact someone.

2.  If You Want Happiness, Stay Debt-Free!  The best time of my life was after my husband and I got married, lived in the crappiest neighborhood in the universe -- just so we could pay down debt.  The day we became debt-free was the day we felt like we could plan for the future without worrying about the present.  Our car broke down -- but we had enough in savings.  We needed a new car, so we shared for six months and paid for one with cash.  Teach your kids that saving for something special is better than buying it with credit.  We learned the lesson the hard way, our son has been taught -- and it will be up to him whether he follows or not.

3.  Let Them See Your Success . . . . And Mistakes:  My parents never shared their finances with us.  It just wasn't done.  I know lots of families who never want their kids to know how things are paid and if there are struggles.  We don't live that way.  When we buy a big-ticket item, we tell Dillon about how it is being paid for and what we did to save the money.