Who Else Wants to Talk to Their Kids About Money?
Do you talk openly about money with your kids? I’ve always wanted to be able to talk opening to my kids about money & finances.
My kids’ ages are 11, 8, 6, & 3. My 8 year old is particularly curious about money and how much things cost. Whenever he asks questions about money I try to explain as best I can.
Growing up, I don’t really remember my parents talking about money very much. It happened only occasionally. It always seemed to be an uncomfortable topic though.
I’ll relate 3 events I do remember learning about money as a child/young adult.
The Family Budget Lesson
When I was very young we had a family home evening lesson. My dad gave my older brother and I a stack of monopoly money that represented his paycheck. He then put a list of bills and budget categories on the floor. Our task was to determine how to best spend the money he gave us.
In the end, if I remember right we barely had enough money to cover the basics and nothing left. At first we wanted to dump money into want categories instead of need categories. My dad just laughed as if to say “Welcome to my world.” It always stuck with me. We were poor.
The Credit Card Debt
When I was in 6th grade or thereabouts, my parents sat us down for a serious talk. They explained that our family had put a lot of money on credit cards and that we needed to cut back. No more extras (I don’t remember there being many extras as it was) and we were told we should do all we could do to help, such as turning off the lights when we left a room.
Shortly after that talk my mom moved out and my parents separated. My older brother and younger sister moved out with my mom and I stayed with my dad. I remember everything being very tight. My dad and I cut coupons. We bought a very cheap ugly car. I used to have him drop me off a block before school so I wouldn’t be seen in it.
I always related it back to the talk we had about our family’s credit card debt. Right or wrong, as I got older I always sort of looked at that as the catalyst for my parents’ divorce.
Asking to Get Paid
The third experience was when I was a teenager – probably about 15 years old. My dad agreed to pay me a certain amount of money to paint our fence. When I finished I went to him to get paid. He asked me a question. I can’t even remember what the question was. But, being a highly emotional teenager I went to my room, hid in my closet and started crying. I hated asking my dad for money! His question felt like an attack on my integrity.
He came and found me and we had a good talk and he paid me, but I never forget how I felt. It was just so uncomfortable talking about money because it seemed we never had any. My dad was remarried and doing a little better financially at this point, but I still had a hard time asking for money because I always knew it was a stress point for my dad.
I used to get $10 per week to spend on lunch in high school. Every time my dad opened his wallet to give me cash I felt a pang of guilt as if I were cutting into the family finances. It’s not like my dad ever intended to make or want me to feel this way. It’s just how I viewed things in my overly concerned mind.
This still affects me today. Back when I used to do a lot of freelance work I greatly undervalued my time & efforts. I often did things for free or very cheaply because I was uncomfortable asking for money.
As I got older, somewhere in my high school years, I started to learn more about our finances, but I never really had a concept of what a good or average salary was. If you told me you made $50,000 per year, I would have no idea what kind of lifestyle that would afford you. I had no idea how much cars or houses cost, I had no idea how much utility bills were.
So now, when my son asks how much money I make I tell him. When he asks why we can’t go to Disneyland I explain how much we spend on various things and how Disneyland doesn’t fit into our budget right now. I think he gets it. We will certainly have more money talks over the years.
3 Tips to help you start taking with your kids about money
- Be open and honest. There is no need to keep your finances a secret with your kids. They don’t need to know all the details about your finances – especially if they are young, but if they ask a question, answer it.
- Don’t assume the math is over their head. They might not understand the numbers or the math, but they may surprise you. My son will often bring up numbers I talked with him in the past. He remember the numbers and he remembers the math.
- Do: Talk about money with your spouse in front of the children. You don’t need to hide in your rooms to talk finances. Don’t: fight about money in front of your kids. 😉
What tips or advice do you have relating to kids & money?