Not sure how to talk money with your kids? Start by playing to your strengths

You might have reasons that you haven’t yet started to talk about money with your children. It might feel awkward, boring, preachy, or difficult. You might not know where to start, or when it’s the right time. But you probably know it’s important to start. 

We have tips to help

You can have conversations that build your child’s financial capability—in your own unique way. 

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a money expert, you do have skills that you already use to navigate your financial life. Things you do naturally may be strengths you can share with your kids. 

Are you:

  • A pro at researching new information and making plans
  • A math whiz who can calculate tricky problems on the spot
  • A savvy shopper who can recognize a good deal when you see one

Chances are you shine in some of these areas and more. What’s your style? What are your strengths? Share them with your children.

Whether your children are in preschool, high school, or somewhere in between , you can help them start building the skills they’ll need to make financial decisions in the future.  

Here are ways you can use the skills you already have to share valuable money lessons with your kids.

What you can show your young child: Planning, patience, and problem solving

Building block: Developing executive function 

If math comes easily to you, you could show your preschooler how you add up the grocery bill or how to subtract 10 percent from the price of an item on sale. 

Illustration of coins

You could also:

  • Show your children the value of waiting patiently, so they see that waiting in line at the store or the playground will result in getting what they want.
  • Play a game like Chinese checkers that requires thinking a few moves ahead. 
  • Encourage your children to keep practicing at something—maybe a sport, game, or musical instrument—to help them build persistence.  
  • Try some of our conversation starters and activities for early childhood.

What you can show your preteen: Day-to-day habits, resisting sales pressure and peer pressure

Building block: Building financial habits and values

If you naturally make budgeting a priority, you could show your preteens how you set your budget and track your income and expenses. 

Illustration of dollar bills

You could also:

  • Show your kids how you shop around when you’re thinking of buying something, so they get in the habit of comparison shopping.
  • Let them in on your own personal money rules of the road, like paying cash for things under $20 or waiting a day instead of buying something on impulse.
  • Point out the advertisements around you. Ask your children what the ads are selling and what makes them work or not. 
  • Try some of our conversation starters and activities for middle childhood.

What you can show your teen: Researching options, making plans, and breaking them into achievable steps

Building block: Practicing money skills and decision-making

If investing is an important part of your financial life, you could talk to your teenagers about comparing investment types and the power of compounding interest.

Illustration of credit cards

You could also:

  • Talk about your working life and how you prepared for it. Discuss how you balance work, home, and other responsibilities.
  • Show your children how you manage debt, borrowing, and credit cards so they understand how loans work, what they cost, and where they may fit into their financial lives.
  • Demonstrate how you protect your privacy online and how to guard against digital scams. 
  • Try some of our conversation starters and activities for young adulthood.

More ways to build money habits, skills, and attitudes

With Money as You Grow, you can see ideas for applying the building blocks of financial development in your everyday conversations—for children of all ages.

You can also join our challenge to try one new thing to grow your child’s money skills.

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