Do You Discuss Money With Your Kids?
Assuming that you have children, do you take the time to discuss finances with them? Do you involve them in family financial discussions and decisions? When I was a child, I really do not recall ever talking about money issues with my parents as it seemed that money was not a topic for children.
In my opinion, being open with our children regarding money and how it impacts our lives is critically important. By not having discussions about money with my own parents, I was left to learn lessons on my own and unfortunately, some of them were costly lessons that may have been avoided with more education.
Power of Information.
When our children were younger, they observed how my wife and I would go to the bank and that the bank would give us money. Naturally they thought that whenever you needed money, you just went to the bank and they would give you as much as you needed. While I found it humorous the first time that they told us to just go to the bank for more money when we told them we could not purchase a particular item, it was clearly an opportunity to begin their financial education.
As I explained to them that the bank will only give you money if you have first put your money into the bank, they slowly began to understand there is not an unlimited supply of money being handed out at the bank. The beautiful thing is that as my wife and I explained how the bank works, our children prompted us with additional questions.
Make It Interesting.
In an effort to educate our children in a way that they might find interesting, I had discovered that the Federal Reserve provides comics that discuss money. While our oldest son did read through the comics, I have to say that he didn’t find them entirely entertaining. However, I would still highly recommend them as they may at least provide additional information to encourage further discussion.
While the comics didn’t work extremely well with our kids, something that they have enjoyed is being an active participant in the balancing of the checkbook and monthly bill payment. Given that I am rather *particular* about the checkbook, I typically balance it once a week and use our banks “bank by phone” feature to get the latest information.
Our oldest son has the task of recording the new transactions that have cleared into a notebook and our youngest son then recites those numbers back to me when I am entering the data into Microsoft Money. In addition, they both share the responsibility of applying stamps and address labels to any bills that must be mailed.
The process of involving our children in these tasks does require more of a time commitment than if I were to do it alone but I think the benefit far outweighs the time spent. Since they have been helping with these tasks, they have started to gain an appreciation for the cost of things and understand that I have to work every day in order to earn money to pay for everything.
Is Money Taboo?
In many families, discussing money and finances with children is still considered taboo. If any of you feel that way, I encourage you to share your reasoning with me as I feel it is a great learning opportunity for children.
In my opinion, open communication with your kids will help educate them at an early age and should put them on a path to better money management as they get older. Depending on their age, they will not fully understand all of the topics being discussed but planting the seed encourages them to grow.