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Why You Should Talk To Your Child About Money Now

Right now is the time to talk to your child about money.

Millennials are not just college students. Many millennials are in their 30s and many are raising a family. Every generation learns the habits of the previous generation whether they approved of those habits or not. The subject of money has become more openly discussed among millennials but there are still some challenges.

Your parents may not have talked to you about money and the thought of teaching your child something so personal is scary too. Some parents find talking about the birds and the bees much easier than trying to explain how money works.

Keep in mind that if you’re not speaking to your child about money, then they’re learning all about it from someplace else.  In fact, your child began their money education the moment you bought a toy they wanted at the store.

Children are learning to spend before they learn what money is and how it works. A child’s starter relationship with money is based on purchases.

Mommy and daddy go to work to make money in order to buy stuff. One parent recently shared that his daughter drags him to the toy store every Saturday because she knows Friday was payday.

If this sounds like you, then it’s time to have the money talk.

Whether you have a good grasp of money or struggle to stay afloat, helping your child build a positive relationship with money will give you peace of mind. You’ll rest knowing your child can make sound financial decisions and they can fend for themselves in our heavily marketed and consumer-centric world.

If you’re not talking to your child about money, they are still learning from you.

  • The amount of hours you work to earn a paycheck is understood as the only way to make money. A child may never get exposed to the lesson of making money with money (e.g. through interests and investment returns).
  • Avoiding phone calls from creditors is correlated with being victimized as oppose to taking control of the financial situation.
  • Using credit cards is the most effective way of making purchases.
  • Even the simple act of leaving lights on, long showers, and wasted food can make a child believe those choices don’t have financial consequences.

At what age should you start to teach your child about money? Sam Rennick of Sammy Rabbit and the Dream Big Day Experience says, “The highest impact and most consequential years for learning are from around month seven of pregnancy to around age seven, perhaps younger. That is when mindsets, attitudes, and habits are being formed. A University of Cambridge Study states money habits are formed by age seven.”

The sooner you start the better but make sure it is age-appropriate. You don’t want to talk to your 6-year-old child about credit card interest rate calculations and your 14-year-old about mortgage amortization schedules. When your child starts asking you about buying a toy, it’s probably time to have a conversation about money.

How Parents Can Talk To Their Child About Money

  1. Start with the basics of where money is made, how it is earned and how it is used. The website has great resources for parents with activities and worksheets.
  2. Talk about the concept of saving money for future purchases. Children may not grasp the reasoning behind saving money but spoken in the perspective of delayed purchase may get them to understand.
  3. Don’t just talk but walk them through it. Some parents have shared they sit with their children when they pay bills. They want their child to understand money is used for the essentials such as housing, food, and living expenses.  
  4. Have an allowance system. My parents didn’t discuss money with me but they did give an allowance based on the number of chores I did around the house. It made me realize that money doesn’t grow on trees. The harder I work and the more I completed the bigger the rewards.

Sam added that “There are lots of strategies. As mentioned, there are no silver bullets or one size fits all solutions. Having shared that, here are four tips parents can follow. One, lead by example. Role model the behavior you want your child to follow. Two, take control of the conversation and the messages being planted into a child’s heart and mind starting as early as possible. Three, include stories, songs, and activities in daily activities with children that expose and emphasize the money values you want to nurture within them. Four, highly regulate kids’ exposure to television, computer, video programming, etc.”

For some, money is still a very touchy subject especially if your own relationship with it elicits doubts and fears. Sam shared music is a great way to teach kids about money, especially if talking to your child about money is hard without some sort of aid..

It got me thinking.

I did learn about body parts from “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” and the 50 States from “Fifty Nifty United States.” So the concept of educating kids about money through music could very well be an important facet of financial education efforts.

Check out this catchy tune Anyone Can Be Rich.

How can you start to teach your kid about money?

Start with the basics of personal finance. It’s never too early to talk about money but make it relatable to them. If your child is getting their first allowance or paycheck, show them how you pay for bills, expenses, and fund goals. The CARPE DIEM article on what to do with your first paycheck is a good read too.

I also suggest using a savings app specifically for children called Goalsetter. You have complete control but your child has their own access too. Your child can set up goals like buying a Switch and you can set another goal for funding college. You can easily set up automatic deposits, a reward for chores completed, and have family and friends contribute to your child’s goals. Get started with Goalsetter here.

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