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Oregon Family Magazine

Having the Money Talk

03/01/2020 ● By Gregg Murset, CEO BusyKid
Discussing the nitty gritty of personal financial situations has typically been viewed as taboo. It is one of the topics you do your best to avoid at holiday gatherings along with politics, religion and asking adult children when they are getting married or having kids. However, as more and more people face increasing debt, learn to use invisible money rather than change in their pocket, and struggle to save anything at all, it is becoming very clear why parents need to talk to their kids about money starting at a young age.

According to T. Rowe Price’s 2019 Parents, Kids & Money Survey, half of all parents have some reluctance to discuss money with their kids, and 73% of parents who are caring for an aging family member in addition to their kids, don’t want to broach the topic. Some parents would rather discuss the “birds and bees” than try to explain finances.

So, if you’re facing thousands of dollars in student loan debt, living paycheck to paycheck, or financially successful but unsure about things like investing, how can you make talking to your kids about money less intimidating? Remember, no matter how uncomfortable or scary the conversations might be for you, if you don’t talk to your kids about money now, you’re setting them up for almost certain failure on some level. So, here’s my suggestions on where you should start:

Start Slow & Make It Simple

Forget buying books or watching YouTube videos that will even put the biggest hardcore financial nerds to sleep. Once your kids know the actual value of money, then it comes down to three simple rules – 1) Earn money through hard work; 2) Save more than you spend and 3) Never borrow more than you earn.

Be The Example

As a parent, you already have years of life experiences to use for “The Talk”, though you think some of them don’t set the best example. I disagree. No matter if you have a great credit score or poor one, have thousands or hundreds in savings, or huge debt or no debt, your life experiences are great lessons to pass down to your kids. Nobody is perfect but you only need to be burned once to know not to stick your fingers in the fire again. Put your pride away and let your kids learn from your errors.

Play With It

Let’s go old school for a second. “Monopoly”, was the board game of choice in my competitive family. Almost every weekend we bought, sold, paid rent, experienced bankruptcy and learned how to manage money. The battle wasn’t over until you had a row of hotels on your properties just waiting for someone to come by and pay up big. The game still exists today, provides the same great hands-on experience for kids and allows everyone the chance to connect away from technology for a bit.

It’s Invisible Money Now

Fewer and fewer cash purchases are being made each year. In a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, U.S. Bank found that 50 percent of respondents said they carry cash with them less than half of the time they are out, and a Pew Research Center study showing about 3 in 10 Americans said they make no purchases with cash in a typical week. Cash is far from gone, but “Invisible Money” is the new king in town.

“Invisible Money” is used by plastic cards, P2P money apps and lenders, and anything else tied to money moving digitally. Your kids probably see you using credit and debit cards all the time, and some may even understand the connection between the plastic card and money. Most probably don’t until they experience it through a gift card or a parent lending a card for a purchase.

Some night during dinner, place all your credit and debit cards on the table, and explain to your kids what they are, how they are used and the responsibilities that come with having them. If you’re really brave show them the account balances to drive home the point that this isn’t free money. Remember, “Be The Example”!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

No one can be good at anything without practice. Even managing money requires practice and dedication as soon as possible so that hopefully you’ll be set up financially strong as an adult.

If you’ve followed my suggestion, you’ve slowly started to introduce money management to your kids, you’ve played the game, shared your financial stories and explained “Invisible Money”. Now it’s time to introduce a tool that will help the kids earn, save, invest and spend money wisely. For some families it’s something hanging on the wall in addition to outside websites. For others, it’s a platform like BusyKid that can help introduce a steady routine starting as early as six-years old. All parents, parent differently and often take the same path they did as kids. That’s ok, as long as the outcome is what you want for your kids.

As of today, only 19 states have made personal finance coursework a high school graduation requirement, and studies have shown that what kids learn about money at school doesn’t and align with what they need in the outside world. I have no doubt you can do this, no matter what your financial status is right now. Just remember … It’s for the kids!

The co-founder & CEO of BusyKid, Gregg Murset is a father of six and a certified financial planner and consultant who also became a leading advocate for sound parenting, child accountability and financial literacy.