If you’re in your 40s or older, there’s a good chance your parents didn’t discuss the family finances with you. There was a time when, by and large, the topic of money simply wasn’t discussed between parents and kids. Even today this topic is taboo in many families. Although there’s no right or wrong side on which to fall in regard to the issue of whether you should (or shouldn’t) discuss money with your kids, if you do want to involve your kids in the discussion, it can be difficult to know how to broach the topic. Here are some tips to get you started.
Realize they already know more than you think they do
Today’s kids are savvy. They don’t miss much. There’s a very good chance that they know whether things are going well in the money department or not before you even sit down to have the conversation. Kids instinctively compare their lives to those of their peers, so if you drive a fancier car, live in a bigger house, and have more of the latest gadgets than other families, chances are good they’re going to think that you are doing financially well as a family. What they may not understand, however, is how you value money as a family. That’s a bigger question that needs to be discussed and put into context.
Topics of discussion might be:
What does money mean to use? Do we place value on it? What kinds of things do we prioritize for our disposable money?
Know your core money values
Finance expert Shaun McGowan from Lend says, “You may have a clear idea about how you want your kids to think about money, but do you really live those values? Kids learn by example. It’s not enough to tell them that saving money for a rainy day is a good life lesson if you tend to spend all of you available cash quickly and recklessly. Before you talk to your kids about money, be sure what you are about to say lines up with the example you put forth, or your kids won’t see you as credible”.
The second a child or teenager feels as though they are being lectured to, they will tune out. As with any serious discussion with your child, it’s best to treat it as that: a discussion. Encourage questions and discussion, and let your kids know that the lines of communication are open both ways. Within this framework of open discussion, your children will know that they are free to ask questions, express concerns, and get information. Be prepared to answer tough questions!
Finally, it’s important to be honest with your children about money. That doesn’t mean you have to divulge every detail to them, but don’t sugar-coat things, either. They need to know that you are giving them enough respect to give them the real-deal information. If you are planning a family vacation, however, and Disneyworld isn’t in your budget, say so. Don’t placate your kids with things phrases like “We’ll see,” if you already know that it’s not in the cards. Instead, be honest and try to come up with ideas as a family that are within a doable budget.
Talking to your kids about money isn’t easy – which is why so many parents avoid doing it. Including your children in talks about the family finances can be an effective way to bond with them while teaching valuable life lessons, however, so it’s important to know how to do it effectively. These tips will help.