How to Talk About Money with Kids Age Preteen and Older
- July 20, 2018
- by Emily
Parenting preteens, teenagers and young adults comes with its own set of challenges—your relationship with your kids evolves dramatically over this time, as they become self-sufficient adults and likely are able to do at least some things better than you.
As your kids enter the pre-teen years, it’s important to keep talking about money—but you’re going to be more open and honest than before and you’ll be ready to address more complex financial issues.
Here are some things to keep in mind with kids 10 and older. If your child is younger than 10, see our post on talking to little ones about money.
Be Brutally Honest
By the time they are 10, kids can see through BS, and they’re also starting to understand that their parents (that’s you!) don’t have all the answers. It’s time to start being honest about financial mistakes you’ve made, both in the distant past and recently. There are a lot of types of mistakes we can make with our finances, and it’s not always about not having enough money. Here are some situations you might find yourself regretting—and that should come up in conversations with your kids:
- Taking on too much student debt;
- Pursuing a career path you didn’t enjoy because you wanted to earn more money;
- Neglecting your family/friends/health in the pursuit of earning more;
- Buying a house that was too expensive;
- Neglecting to save for retirement;
- Spending money on things instead of activities.
Everyone’s regrets are different, but most people have some. Addressing them in conversations with your kids serves two purposes—hopefully they’ll learn from your mistakes, but just as importantly you’ll gain credibility, increasing the chances that they’ll listen to what you have to say.
Some people seem to think that there’s a “money talk,” after which you can go back to awkward silences over the dinner table. Wrong. You should talk about money regularly… and there’s also no reason for it to be awkward. You can have dedicated money lessons as well as chats about money that come up organically—for example, including your kids when it’s time to pay bills, so he or she understands how much you pay for specific services. Here are some topics to make sure you address before your kids leave home.
Topic Ideas for Discussing Money with Your Kids
- The pros, cons and pitfalls of student loans.
- What things cost - mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
- The idea of setting up a budget in order to make ends meet or save towards a goal.
- The total cost of owning a car.
- How the family earns money and what it took to develop each source of income.
- Interest, and how it can work for you (investments) and against you (debt).
- What percentage of your income you devote to savings, charity, spending, etc.
- How to work towards financial goals.
- What your net worth is.
- Building credit and using credit.
- How much financial help your kids can expect from you, and for how long.
- The idea of saving enough for retirement, and even retiring early.
- What is “Enough”, concept of greed and what your definition of rich and poor is.
Your kids will make mistakes, and that’s ok. But by having open conversations about money from the time they’re young, they might at least avoid making the same mistakes you did. They will also be ahead of the game, compared to their peers—most young people (and even those pushing middle age) are surprisingly financially illiterate. So there might be awkward moments, but they’re worth having to increase the chances that your kids will make smart financial decisions immediately after leaving the nest.