1/11/2013 2:45 PM ET|
What to tell your kids about money
Parents often shy away from the topic, but children need to learn financial basics. Experts offer their 2 cents on what youngsters need to know.
Parents are constantly fielding questions from their curious youngsters, many of which they can answer with ease: Why is the sky blue? Does Santa exist? Where did all the dinosaurs go? But the real challenge comes when kids start asking about the family's finances.
Part of the issue stems from parents who are reluctant to talk to their children about anything related to money. Most parents say it's easier to talk to their kids about drugs than about money, according to a 2012 survey published by T. Rowe Price. Those who do broach the subject have difficulty telling the truth: 77% said they're dishonest with their kids about money-related items, with 15% not telling the truth at least weekly.
Some parents may fear how their kids will handle what they say. Even answering a simple question, like "Are we rich or poor?" can have repercussions. Tell your children you're rich, and they'll think you can buy them anything they want. Tell them you're poor, and they may feel guilty about how much they ate for dinner.
Other parents may think money isn't fun to talk about with their kids. "When I would talk to my son about money, my stepmother would say, 'You're talking to him too much about money. Can't he just be a kid?'" says Alan Wolan, the author of "Moneyology," a book series for young children.
When he was growing up, Wolan says, his parents would go into another room and speak in hushed tones when they talked about the family's finances. Wolan, on the other hand, encourages his son to ask any money questions he has.
One question a child might ask a parent: "How much money do you make?" Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist and director of research at H&R Block Dollars & Sense, which gives parents tips on how to talk to their children about money, says it's best not to divulge the exact amount -- unless you're comfortable with the entire world knowing how much you make. "Kids aren't good at keeping secrets," he says. You'll probably satisfy them by saying you make enough money to get by, since their curiosity likely derives from them wanting to know if the family is financially secure.
Jayne Pearl, co-author of "Kids, Wealth, and Consequences: Ensuring a Responsible Financial Future for the Next Generation," says some parents feel the need to shield their kids from the family's financial situation. "Some parents would never tell their kid anything negative. While that's understandable, because their instinct is to protect, I think that's a mistake," she says. "We should tell our kids the reality in bite-sized pieces."
Yet that reality may be a despairing one for the family if, say, a parent has lost a job or the family is so far behind in mortgage payments they have to give up their house. In those troubling times, full disclosure is probably not the best way to go, says Klontz. "Over-sharing can damage a young child's self-esteem," he says.
But not telling your children at least some of what's going on could scare your kids even more. Susan Beacham, the CEO and co-founder of Money Savvy Generation, a company that develops products to help parents and educators teach children to make good money choices, says kids will pick up on financial strain if their parents appear stressed or anxious.
Beacham says many parents try to mask financial problems because they don't want to appear to have failed in the eyes of their children. Adults also may carry shame related to the loss of a job or piles of unpaid bills, she says, and they want to preserve their image as perfect parents.
But parents may do more damage if their children stumble onto what's going on, possibly by overhearing a conversation. To minimize the damage, couples can sit down together to determine the best way to break the news. "You don't want to shoot from the hip," Pearl says. She adds that it's important to be on the same page as your spouse so that the message you deliver is consistent.
When money is tight, putting a positive spin on the situation may be the best way to talk to your children, says Jaclyn Weitzberg, the president of Money MindEd, a financial-education company for parents and teens. Says Weitzberg: "Use any situation as a way to teach your children how to manage money more responsibly."
More from U.S. News and World Report:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
I fouled up royally. My kids are spoiled 30 somethings. If I could do it over I would encourage them to save more and to give more to help others less fortunate. My husband and I contributed to a number of charites, but never included the kids in the conversation. We saved for their college educations, sometimes $4 at a time. After the fact they tell me it doesn't matter that they went to private colleges. We are nearing retirement and our daughter and her husband have picked up the check once, they make more than we do and insinuate we are hoarders- I call it saving for our retirement so we can remain independent. I would advise families to talk about money and set priorities.
When I started teaching my children about money was the day they started asking for stuff. I mean asking in that odd they don't understand fashion: but you have money, all you need is your card, etc...
As they grew I purchased games and books to help them understand about money.
Currently I purchased: for Children how to become rich, successful and do well in school.
A book that motivates them to learn and seek success which in turn helps me to motivate them to learn and to learn how to manage not just money but time and skills.
OBAMA AND DEMOCRATS ARE LEFT WING LIBERAL SOCIALIST ANTI AMERICAN PIGS! AND OUR FAMILY IS NOT! WE DON'T
RELY ON BIG DADDY GOVT TO RUN OUR LIVES AND TELL US WHAT TO DO! OBAMA RAISED OUR TAXES SO HE COULD PAY
PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR HIM SO HE CAN GIVE THEM FREE THINGS THEY DON'T DESERVE OR WORK FOR BUT NOT ENOUGH
TO REALLY HELP THEM CAUSE THEY BECOME LAZY AND THINK LIFE IS EASY AND IT'S NOT! IF YOU WORK HARD NO MATTER
HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MAKE YOU WILL BE HAPPIER CAUSE YOU WILL BE FREE! MONEY AND THINGS ARE NOT WORTH
LOSING YOUR FREEDOM FOR! DON'T BELIEVE NOTHING OBAMA DEMOS LIBOS AND THE MEDIA TELL YOU! IT'S ALL LIES!
The american dollar is not worth the paper you print it on, they (gov't) prints it like TP. What ever money you lay your hands on convert it to gold, silver, platinum or guns. Yes it is comparable to TP.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
RECENT ARTICLES ON FAMILY & MONEY
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'