A single mother of teenaged children wrote into a parenting column in The Washington Post because she had seen another family’s trauma when a spouse died. Parents in all stages of life are hesitant to discuss family finances so it understandable why a mother of teenagers would feel this way. However, her question indicates that she was unnerved by seeing another family “almost go under financially” and was rethinking her previous strategy of keeping silent about family finances.
While you can appoint guardians for your children when they are young, you can also start to give them more information as they age. Tell older children about your finances and where important papers can be found. Columnist Marguerite Kelly comments:
“This is a difficult thing to talk about, and none of this will be easy to explain to your teens, even though they’re almost grown, but it’s unfair to keep them in the dark. Too little information can be much harder on children than too much of it.”
Kelly recommends a two-tiered approach—educating your children about finances in general and also giving them the specifics of your financial planning—information about any property you own, the contact information for your lawyer and insurance agent, stating:
Teaching your children about the financial world can be empowering and Fee-Only financial planner Claire Emory MBA, CFP, CFA knows this from personal experience. She learned the importance of financial planning and literacy at an early age thanks to financially creative parents; her father read aloud to her from the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s magazine throughout her childhood.
To begin a legacy of sound money management to be an example to your children, you can enlist the help of a financial planner. The more you know and understand about managing money, the more you will be able to share with your children.
For an amusing take on discussing finances with your children, check out this Zits comic strip: