Talking to your kids about their financial future

It's something we don't like to talk about. Why? Because when spouses talk about it, we typically get into an argument. But speaking to your CHILDREN about money at an early age can lead them down the road of financial success.

We started those lessons early with Monkey and Lil Tank. They know when we go to Disney it costs lots of money. Contrary to what they may hear from their friends, not everyone can afford to go to the happiest place on Earth. Take my husband, for example. He never visited the Mouse when he was a child. Growing up in the Midwest, his family vacations consisted of road trips to neighboring states. In fact, his first time to Magic Kingdom was at the age of 45... when we moved to Florida (read about it here). I was luckier. We have family in the Sunshine State, so we would spend our summer vacations driving here and visiting Mickey and Minnie, snapping pictures with them and all the Disney characters just as we now do with our own children. I treasure those memories to this day. Memories that wouldn't have been made possible had my parents not saved the money to take us there. 

We teach Monkey and Lil Tank that if they leave the lights on in a room and walk out, that costs money. If they waste food, they're also wasting money. Money that could lead to another magical trip to the happiest place on Earth.

But it's not just about spending responsibly. It's also about giving back. Every year since Monkey was born, we let her and now her little sister, too, select an angel from the Angel Tree during Christmas time. We explain that we are providing gifts to those who can't afford it. Not because those families are wasting their money but because they simply don't make enough money to survive. We are blessed and feel it's important to give back.

So we've covered spending and giving back but what about saving? It's perhaps the most important factor to your financial future. H&R Block has a program that provides important tips and resources for teens, parents and educators. Called the Dollars & Sense program, it provides scholarships to teens who can manage money and have some fun along the way, it arms parents with the financial advice every teen needs to hear, and it gives teachers the tools needed to engage students in personal finance. 

This weekend, H&R Block Dollars & Sense released the results from a survey they conducted called “Teens and Their Financial Future”. It revealed some startling statistics about teens and how they feel about money now and in the future.

Highlights include:
• Eight of every 10 teenagers are worried about finding a good job
• 78 percent are anxious about potential student loan debt
• 50 percent are concerned about being worse off financially than their parents
• 97 percent still plan on attending college
• More than 75 percent still rely on their parents for financial information

"With this survey, we wanted to do a deeper dive into how teens really feel about their financial future, good or bad – their worries, habits, where they go for information and, perhaps most importantly, the role their parents play in providing guidance and support," said Kelli Ramey, Vice President of Advertising and Creative Services at H&R Block; and Director of H&R Block Dollars & Sense in an email to Newsy Parents.

Ramey emphasized the importance of having the money matters conversation now. She said just engaging with your kids will do wonders and suggests walking them through your credit card statement or having them develop their own budget. At the ages of 4 and 2, that seems a little too complex for our kids. Instead, we've developed a different system - the three jar system: one for saving, a second for giving back, a third for spending responsibly.

"Remember, even if it feels hard, it’s still easier to teach your kids now, rather than watching them struggle financially later in life," said Ramey.

Have you talked to your children about their financial future? What tips do you have for teaching them that money matters?

Get more information and resources from H&R Block Dollars & Sense here and connect with them on Facebook here

DISCLOSURE: This post has not been monetarily compensated. Consider it a PSA with our personal take on how to lead your children on the road to financial success.