Tweens Pre Teens

So you’ve got kids, and you want to do your best to prepare them for life in the “Cold, Cruel World”. And you’re proud of yourself for sitting down and having all of “The talk” conversations.

Talked about sex: Check.
Talked about drugs: Check.
Talked about money: *Oops!*

Either because of embarrassment or oversight, the “Just Say NO” kitchen-table conversations regarding personal finances and credit cards never happen.

And you’re not alone.

An excerpt from Columnist Bob Sullivan’s article in 2/27/07 “Red Tape Chronicles” highlights this growing problem:

“Michael Benjamin, executive director of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, said that in light of Americans’ negative savings rate – the Commerce Department said recently that Americans now spend more than they earn, and are saving less than at any time since the Great Depression – it’s important to begin a national dialog on savings accounts. “Financial fitness is one of the last things discussed in the family,” Benjamin said.”

As parents we often fail to deliver the same, strong message about how to handle our finances, as we do about other things, equally as critical. How is it that mom’s feel comfortable telling their daughters’ “I wish I had waited a little longer” or dad’s can advise their son, “I’ve had to walk away from friends who smoke pot” but admitting bankruptcy or poor retirement planning is too difficult to share?

The solution is surprisingly simple. Leave pride outside at the front door, and be honest with your family. Sit down with your children, turn off the TV, and show them your pay stub. Let them see and understand not only what all those numbers are, but also how it affects the family’s life. Openly share your retirement and debt balances. Illustrate your savings patterns. Show them credit card statements. If you have excess debt and don’t want your children to get in as deep as you did, then share your testimonial to them. Let them see the damage it caused in your own life. If you have a budget, work through it step-by-step with them. Give them a chance to comprehend the ins-and-outs of managing money. Invite your family into open discussion about the bills. Whether you believe it’s overwhelming or not, the reality is they’re going to have their own set of bills in the rapidly approaching future. Doesn’t it make sense to equip them with skills to make wise decisions ahead of time? If they ask questions and you don’t know the answers, go find them together! There’s no shame in not knowing everything about money. Chances are you’re parents didn’t know either; otherwise you’d be able to answer your own kids’ questions.

Or maybe talking about money is stressful for you. Remember, families have always had a strong track record of supporting each other, especially in tough times. And if support isn’t where you’d like it to be in your household and you want more of it, then isn’t NOW a good time to turn things around? Besides, you might even find that your kids have a few suggestions to help.

Remember, the pain of change is always worse than the pain of regret. And without having these conversations, I can promise you with perfect accuracy; a guarantee. History will repeat it’s self inside your family. And your children will have either the blessings and wealth or the worries and problems, that you do.