Where did you first learn about personal finance? If you’re like most Americans, it wasn’t at school. While some schools offer personal finance workshops for students, the responsibility of teaching kids about finance usually falls to parents.
It can be hard to teach your kids about money, especially if it isn’t your strong suit. But raising your kids to be financially responsible could give them a leg up later in life, when they have to start making financial decisions for themselves.
We’ve asked three prominent financial experts to weigh in and share their top tip on what kids need to know about money, and how you can help teach it to them:
1. Get Your Kids Involved in Your Budget
Money can be tough to talk about. But when you educate your kids about your own finances and model financially responsible behavior, they’re likely to do the same when they grow up.
According to personal finance expert and VP of New Client Enrollment at Freedom Debt Relief, Kevin Gallegos, “Showing your kids how you use your budget to pay for monthly expenses, manage debt, and save money helps them understand the basics of financial responsibility. It’s even better if you set them up with their own budget based on their allowance so that they can practice budgeting on their own.”
2. Teach Your Kids to Save up for Large Expenses
It’s good to teach your kids basic financial responsibilities like budgeting. But there’s more to personal finance than that. It’s also important to teach them about how to reach big financial goals—like buying a home.
“Talk to your kids about different savings tools so that they become comfortable with these terms and products early on.”
“Talking to your kids about how you’re saving for long-term goals is important, but don’t stop there,” says Kyle Enright, an expert in home mortgages. “Take the opportunity to talk to them about different savings tools: teach them about stocks and bonds, high-yield saving accounts, and any other product you might be using to save for your next home so that they become comfortable with these terms and products early on.”
3. Talk to Your Kids About Student Loan Debt
Being in debt gets in the way of living how you want to live—a reality that most of us shield our children from. That’s why it’s important to teach them about how to avoid the pitfalls of debt when they’re young.
As many young Americans and their families take on student loans, there have been unintended financial consequences. According to a survey about how Americans approached their debt, 40% said that they were delaying their life goals like home ownership because of debt, including debt from student loans.
“It’s important to have meaningful conversations with your kids as they start the exploration process around going to college,” says Michael Micheletti, Director of Corporate Communications at Freedom Financial Network. “These conversations need to include the college experience, the impact of student loans, and the importance of a career. It is well documented that student loan debt has had more of a negative impact on millennials when compared to previous generations, so it is important to explore all financing options like Pell Grants, FAFSA, scholarships, grants, the use of home equity, and federal aid.”
As a parent, it’s up to you to educate your kids about being financially responsible. That way, they’ll be on solid financial footing when they’re grown. No matter what you do, don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about money. The more you can teach them early on, the better off they’ll be in the long run.