August 15, 2023
The Importance of Talking to Your Family About Finances
When was the last time you talked finances with your family? Some of us may have grown up in homes where money wasn’t a topic discussed at the dinner table, but it can be helpful to change that narrative with your children—and yes, even with your parents.
By talking with your kids about money when they’re young, you can help them develop smart money habits that they can take into adulthood. Talking about finances with your parents can also be helpful. Especially if you’re among the millions of Americans who wind up managing money or property for loved ones when they’re no longer able to pay bills or make financial decisions.
Experts recommend that you ease into talking about finances with your family by starting with one conversation that you build upon over time. For example, if you’ve been talking about money with your kids from a young age, it may be easier to be honest with them about how much you can realistically contribute for college.
And that just may help you avoid the anxieties some retirees report feeling. The Employee Benefit Research Institute conducted a Retiree Reflections survey and found that 7% of respondents said that paying for college for children was a primary financial worry that kept them awake even five years prior to retirement. The top three financial worries retirees reported were: not saving enough for retirement, medical expenses and health care costs.
No matter your life stage, you may have been putting off a financial conversation with a family member that’s overdue. If you feel anxious about how to start talking dollars and cents without sounding like you’re money-obsessed, there are some resources that can help.
- For conversations with kids: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has an initiative called “Money as You Grow” that offers tips and activities for parents and caregivers. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) also has a guide called “Money Smart for Young People,” with activities and conversation starters broken out by various ages.
- For conversations with parents: You can find some helpful tips online or in personal finance books for how to bring up the topic of money with your parents. The CFPB also has a variety of guides that are useful if you’re managing someone else’s money.
Finally, if you’re dreading these conversations, remember that your future self will probably thank you for bringing them up as early as possible—and you just may be surprised to find an audience that’s more than happy to talk about money, too.