What the kids should know about your finances

During tough economic times, it’s understandable if parents shield their kids from the harsher facts of the family’s financial life. Growing up is hard enough. No need to stress the young ones out about money.

But think again, writes Wall Street Journal columnist Demetria Gallegos. It’s not a totally negative thing for children to “learn the limits of their parents’ purses.”

In fact, Gallegos has a one-word answer to the question of what children should know about their parents’ finances. The word is “everything.”

She’s all about passing along information, inviting questions, sharing authority, and learning together. Gallegos and her husband have taught their daughters “how to live on a budget, the importance of savings and the benefits of delayed gratification.” They’ve sought to “arm them with the habits and knowledge that will serve them well their entire lives.”

THE MISSING LINK

But do you notice the big something missing from Gallegos’ description of everything?

Bingo! It’s charitable giving.

There’s nothing in the WSJ column about philanthropy.  About teaching children to give. About helping kids to grow up into generous adults. Gallegos writes that her daughters have seen their parents fuss, fret, and fight about money. I hope they’ve also seen Mom and Dad acting charitably.

Consider the old adage about apples falling not far from the tree. Children do as children see done. It’s not mere coincidence that generous adults invariably point to the examples of equally generous parents and grandparents. Money lessons learned in childhood – including how to give – tend to last a lifetime.

So back to the question with which Gallegos titled her column: Should the kids know about your finances?

Yes. Everything. Including what portion of the family’s finances you give away.

Only then will you have truly armed your children with “the habits and knowledge that will serve them well their entire lives.”

What's your take on this topic?

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