How to talk to your kids about money

 

Children have been taught how to adjust to a pandemic from handwashing to wearing masks to help keep them from getting sick.

But introducing them to a changed economic reality is an opportunity to teach them about real life. Even as some states reopen, many parents still face telling their children that things they were looking forward to are still cancelled - because they can't afford them.

They may try to hide fears about having enough money for rent and food, but most children's eyes and ears are sharp. This is going to require some family conversations to help them set new expectations, especially now we are in a recession.

How you have these conversations will vary, depending on the age and temperament of the children and on your new economic situation.

Tarni Witts, with her children Lohkie, 6, and Hudson, 5, at home in Illawong. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Tarni Witts, with her children Lohkie, 6, and Hudson, 5, at home in Illawong. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Family wellbeing expert Dr Jodi Richardson said having regular conversations about money at the family dinner table and involving children in everyday spending decisions can help.

She believes it's important to stay calm and be curious about their questions. Even if it's new for you to talk with your children about your financial situation, you are laying the foundations of being an approachable parent.

"Children have much to gain from learning about income, interest rates, debt, credit, saving, investing and budgeting," she said.

"We're setting them up with the skills that will help them when they decide to fly the coop."

If you or your partner have your job, it's important to reassure your children that you have enough money to pay bills and to buy food and that if you run low, family and friends will help out.

If you're receiving unemployment benefits, job hunting, pivoting your business in a new direction, or taking classes to learn new skills, share some of the details.

It will be reassuring for them to know about your resources and plans.

Look for ways your children can help around the home without spending money and while also maintaining social distance.

Tarni Witts is involving her sons in family conversations about money. Picture:Justin Lloyd
Tarni Witts is involving her sons in family conversations about money. Picture:Justin Lloyd

Tarni Witts is using the current economic situation as an educational jumping-off point for her sons Hudson, 5, and Lohkie, 6.

"As parents, my husband and I have made a conscious effort to involve the boys in our talks during the pandemic," she said.

"We explained about money being a lot tighter while daddy's work had slowed down, so the boys were the first to offer their money boxes as well as giving up their once a week lunch orders to help out."

Financial adviser James Gerrard said parents could get suggestions from their children on ways to curtail spending.

Maybe it means checking out a DVD from the library rather than going to the movies, or selling toys to replace pocket money.

Originally published as How to talk to your kids about money



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