Finances are at the center of every family. How we handle them determines the path that a family will take. Less debt (or preferably none) means a better outcome. It's important to remember that our children are watching us at all times. They are little witnesses to all of our decisions and actions. They learn from our examples, which roads they will choose to go down as well.
Just by accident, we taught our children how to shop wisely. I would love to say it was because of my thoughtful planning, but it was mostly by happenstance. I did buy them banks that divided money to spend, save and tithe, but the real lesson was taught by the examples we set. When I saved money by shopping wisely, I gave them a tangible result. By shopping deals and purchasing items using coupons, I showed them that we now had enough money left, that I could treat them to a nice lunch out. In other words, they witnessed and enjoyed the fruits of "our" labors.
Even our lifestyle showed them that we were fiscally responsible. We always lived within our means, and yet were able to enjoy all of niceties that others did by going outside of theirs. We did this up to and including college. While others signed on the line for student loans, we let them know that there would be none taken out. We told them, that while we would help, it was up to them to earn scholarships. They weren't thrilled about this, but have since appreciated that we were able to retire at an early age, and neither us or them are burdened with student loan debt. After seeing a very different outcome for their friends and their families, our kids still come to us as adults, to thank us. They bounce ideas off of us because they respect what we did. I guess the proof is in the pudding!
Whether or not you believe it, our children are always paying attention. Use this to impart good decision making on them. Impressing others or keeping up with the Jones' is short-lived and remember, the Jones' don't really care about you anyway! Put on blinders to avoid worrying about what others are doing, and keep your eyes on YOUR prize! If you have not lived this way, then implement it going forward. They will still notice it, because no one's ever too old to learn the right way to go. The best outcome isn't just teaching your children...It is freeing yourselves from the bondage of debt!