Talking to your children about the financial facts of life may be the second most awkward conversation you have with them—some would say the most—but it becomes more necessary as they approach adulthood and independence. Toronto financial counsellor and blogger Jessica Moorhouse spends her days communicating with young people about money and has the following tips on teaching children about money:
Teaching Children About Money in Four Easy Steps
Bring it up early and often
From a young age make your children aware of the financial trade-offs and choices you make every day, whether it’s which college to attend or the model of cellphone. Even better than talking is modelling the behaviours that got you where you are. “One thing you can do as a parent is lead by example,” Moorhouse says. Discuss as a family how much a vacation is going to cost and how you will be paying for it. When you encounter a setback, such as an unexpected expense, a layoff or a health issue, make the ramifications dinner-table conversation. Some parents assume they have to protect their kids from financial worries, but the best way to impart your hard-earned experience is to let them see it in action.
Make it relevant to them
Trying to explain why they should start saving for retirement is going to sound like white noise to someone in their twenties. “They just can’t comprehend what life is going to be like at 65-plus,” Moorhouse says. Instead, ask about their goals in the next five or 10 years and work backwards from there. Listen deeply and reserve judgment. This is about the kind of life they want to live and how they can swing it financially.
Suggest outside sources of information and advice
You may mean well handing your college-graduate daughter a copy of The Wealthy Barber but it’s a book written by a middle-aged white guy. Blogs and podcasts will better speak your kids’ language, especially if they’re by people they can relate to. There are free e-courses for specific issues and Facebook groups they can join to get unfiltered reviews. The next level is hiring an advisor, and here your guidance can help; navigating the different compensation structures and professional certifications is “terrifying,” Moorhouse says. Most advisors offer one free, half-hour consultation so clients can get a sense of whether they’ll click.
Trust them and build confidence
The 2008 crash and recession made Moorhouse (who’s in her early 30s) and many Millennials like her overly cautious about investing ever since. “We’re so hyper-focused on not making a mistake,” she says, that it drives some to retreat to the basement to play video games instead. Women especially lack financial confidence, yet “they know a lot more than they think they know.” They are going to be better with money if you build up rather than tear down their confidence.
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