A common critique of our school system is, it teaches our kids extensive Algebra but doesn’t teach them a thing about basic personal finance. Unless parents and guardians educate children about topics such as taxes, credit, savings, and the stock market, many young adults are thrown into adulthood without a clue on how any of it works.
According to Next Gen Personal Finance, there are only 18 states currently requiring a course in personal finance. This number is growing each election cycle as legislative bills continue to be introduced, but it isn’t growing fast enough. In addition, although recent generations are slowly eliminating the stigma of discussing money with their peers, many adults didn’t talk about money growing up and likewise don’t talk about money with their kids. In a recent survey conducted by Intuit, nearly half of their respondents’ said money was rarely discussed during childhood.
There are also many myths and misconceptions about money. It is confusing, and as a result, many young adults avoid trying to understand it all together. It’s clear, between children missing an education about finance in school and rarely talking about money at home – there’s practically nowhere for them to turn. This can lead to poor financial decisions and force them to learn finance the hard way, or in some cases, not at all.
If we want our kids to be financially savvy adults, it all starts at home by educating them and talking about it with them. If you aren’t sure where to get started, here are some ideas:
- No matter how old your child is, talk to them about money in positive ways:
- When paying bills, let your child see how much it costs to run a household. When going to the store, discuss prices with them and help them understand the difference between a need and a want; the trade-off of steak or chicken, and the difference between a name brand vs. generic.
- When planning for a major expense such as a family vacation, talk to them about how you save for the goal, and get them involved in determining what fair prices are for expenses on the trip.
Not only will talking about money start to educate your children, but it will also open the door for questions and dialogue about money.
- Provide an earned allowance for simple chores and guide them on how to use it. There’s an abundance of lessons you can teach with an allowance. For example:
- You can take a percentage of their earnings as “taxes” and put it into savings for them.
- You can incentivize them to keep saving their allowance by implementing a matching or bonus program.
- As they age, you can adjust how often they receive their allowance from a weekly to monthly basis, so they learn the importance of making their money last.
- Open a checking and savings account for them and teach them about how the accounts work including associated fees.
- Open a Roth IRA and invest a percentage of their earnings, explain the three phases of financial life: childhood, working years, retired years. Draw a timeline and use people they know in their lives as an example.
- If they want to buy an expensive item, ask them to budget and save for it to pay for part of the expense.
- If you haven’t yet, open a checking and savings account for your child. Let them use their money through the bank account and learn how a debit card works.
- If you open an investment or retirement account for your child, invite them to take part in the process of choosing investments.
- If you have a good credit score, add your child as an authorized user on your credit card. Act wisely with this recommendation because your credit habits will affect your child. But, if you have a good score, this is one of the best things you can do for your child’s credit. You can set individual limits for them if you trust them to use the card wisely, or, add them and simply throw the card away. Beginning to build healthy credit history at a young age will help them when going to apply for their own loans such as school, a car, or a home. Note: not all creditors allow you to add authorized users, and many will require your child to be at least 16.
- This is also a good time to start a long-term financial plan with them. A common goal in this age bracket is to move out of the house. Have them work through a budget for moving out so they understand the expense. Have them set up a savings plan for it and start putting money away. This could also take the form of a gap year before college or buying their first car, what will it cost and how will they pay for it.
In essence, get your kids thinking about money from a young age. It is on us to teach kids about personal finance at home. But if you want to take it to the next level, bring them into the office to initiate a conversation, answer their questions, and help them plan for their future. We have met with many of our client’s teenagers. TenBridge even offers a summer internship for 16-22 year old’s to work on their financial plan.
There is a lot more to financial planning than saving for retirement. We are here to guide and support you, your children, and your grandchildren through it all. There are many obstacles we face as we enter adulthood, money shouldn’t be one of them. Soothe their minds and yours by educating them early and including a third party who is also looking out for their financial wellbeing.
If you take away anything from this discussion, take away this: life lessons are money lessons. Be open with children about money. People learn from experience, and children are very smart when given the knowledge. Inviting open dialogue about finances is one of the most important tools we can use to help kids succeed – and I promise it will be easier than helping your kids with Algebra.
If you have questions on how to maximize your child’s financial success, please give us a call. We would love to help provide confidence and clarity for your family in what can otherwise be a confusing world.
As always, it is a pleasure to be of service.
From the desk of Sirra Anderson-Crum FPQP™
Miller, D. (2020, August 14). This is how many people don’t talk about their finances. MintLife Blog. Retrieved September 2, 2021, from https://mint.intuit.com/blog/consumer-iq/this-is-how-many-people-dont-talkabout-their-finances/.
Schwab-Pomerantz, C. (2021, April 21). Is your teen financially fit? Charles Schwab Ask Carrie. Retrieved September 2, 2021, from https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/is-your-teenfinancially-fit-0.
Schwab-Pomerantz, C. (2019, August 9). Teaching Your Kids About Money? Here Are Five Life Lessons That Can Help. Charles Schwab Ask Carrie. Retrieved September 2, 2021, from https://www.schwab.com/resourcecenter/insights/content/teaching-your-kids-about-money-here-are-five-lifelessons-that-can-help.
Sherrill , C. (2021, June 1). NGPF FinLit BillTracker as of June 1st. NGPF – Blog. Retrieved September 2, 2021, from https://www.ngpf.org/blog/advocacy/ngpf-finlit-billtracker-as-of-june-1st/.