4 steps to teaching kids about money
Every parent hopes their children will live in prosperity, and it’s a common goal to want the next generation to be better off than the last. The good news is people increasingly believe this goal is within reach. According to a 2021 Guardian study, 57 percent say they are more likely to have a better quality of life and a better financial situation than their parents. This sentiment is up 5 percent from similar research in 2016.1
As a parent, how can you help ensure that your children are more financially confident than you? These four steps can lead the way:
Make room for financial conversations
It sounds easy to bring up the topic of money, but it can be challenging for parents. (It’s challenging the other way around, too.) Nonetheless, normalizing conversations about money is the first integral part of teaching your kids to be financially confident. It’s important for kids to know they have someone they trust to discuss money. Start casually, staying open to opportunities to casually mention the topic, but don’t be afraid to sit down and frankly discuss the topic. Try your best not to lecture and keep an open mind for any questions that arise.
For example, suppose you have teenagers who have just started their first jobs. As their paychecks come in, talk with them about what they plan to do with their money. Offer suggestions for how you would allocate these funds, including setting aside savings in case of emergency. For instance, if their car got a flat tire, how much would it cost to replace it? If they want collect an entire set of trading cards or buy the monthly pass for their favorite video game, how much should they plan to save? Simply having a parent to discuss various scenarios with money can go a long way in helping kids become financially confident adults.
Model healthy behavior with money
Remember: actions speak louder than words. Yes, conversations are crucial, but to really show your kids how to become confident with money, model the behavior you want to see them embrace. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.
The 2021 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence identified a segment of American workers, the Confident Planners, as those who feel the most confident in their financial lives. Why? They save approximately 23 percent of their income, they are knowledgeable about various financial products, and their financial strategy addresses retirement income planning — to name a few of their good habits. If these habits aren’t already a part of your financial life, work to add them, and don’t be afraid to talk to your children about the process.
Set boundaries around supporting adult children
Even if you do everything “right” as a parent, your grown children can still face financial challenges. In fact, as of this year, 40 percent of parents say they have an adult child living back at home.2 They point to a range of reasons – the child’s job loss, financial hardship, saving for a home of their own, and more.
Of course, it’s understandable — and admirable — that parents will help their children in a time of need. At the same time, 35 percent of these parents say that having an adult child back at home is derailing their own long-term financial strategy.2 This could have tough implications for the whole family as the parents reach retirement age without the means to support themselves. If you have a grown child back at home and want to avoid this difficult scenario, define boundaries around your support. How long can the child stay with you? How much do they need to contribute to the overall household during this time? Make a plan with your child that outlines how long you will provide support, as well as how and when they will transition into financial independence.
Work with a financial professional
Going back to the good habits of Confident Planners, this group also tends to work with a financial professional. Plus, once they’ve worked with a professional to develop their own long-term financial strategy, 95 percent say they are good at sticking to it. Simply put, this relationship helps keep them accountable and on track for the long haul.
A financial professional can help you align your money with your life goals, too. When you meet with your financial professional, invite your teenage and young adult children to listen in on these conversations. The sharing of this experience can benefit the whole family — and future generations.
1 The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence™ 2021
2 How to Prioritize Your Financial Goals with Adult Kids Living at Home, CNBC, May 25, 2022
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