Today, although women earners continue to lag male earners on average, there are many who have zoomed ahead. More than 50 percent of women are single1—and many will stay that way, making them de facto heads of households in their homes. In addition, for every 100 men who graduated from college last year, 141 women graduated.2 Those college degrees will drive increased earnings—increased power—for women.

As women continue to gain financial leverage within a family, we want to encourage an open line of communication with our children regarding their relationship with money. The below excerpt from Chapter 10, Raising Kids Who Launch and Flourish, touches on both the difficulties and necessities of such conversations.

You Are the Best (Sometimes Only) Teacher They Have

Doing all of this is part of modern parenting. You can’t count on school or Scouts or society to pass along even basic financial knowledge to your kids. Only 17 states require a course in personal finance for high school graduation.3 (Don’t get me started on how ridiculous this is.) And even if you live in one of those, it’s still on you, because while a teacher can explain a budget or a credit score, a teacher can’t pass along your values. Only you can do that.

And many of us aren’t. According to T. Rowe Price, "Parents, Kids and Money Survey," two-thirds of parents are reluctant to talk about money with their kids—many talk about it only when their kids ask about it.4 I’m not suggesting sitting your kids down at the kitchen table and having a capital T Talk but rather establishing a running dialogue throughout their lives. At 2, when they’re in the grocery cart, you can explain why the choice of green beans over broccoli: because green beans are on sale. My Brooklynite sister‑in‑law Ali used weekend stoop sales to teach her twins that they could not just buy the toys they wanted on the cheap but also make money by selling the ones they were tired of. (Then one of those stoop-sale purchases brought bedbugs into the house and that was the end of that.)

Your children’s asks for bigger purchases trigger a host of conversations: how to save for a longer-term goal, deciding what you really want and what you don’t, working so that you can make more money faster, putting your money to work by investing it so that it can grow. Use your own history, tell them about your experiences—and be honest. When there’s financial trouble in the air, kids tend to feel it. When parents talk in hushed tones about a colleague who lost a job and may have to move, they wonder: Is that going to happen to me? Psychiatrist Gail Saltz says that children are laser focused on one thing when it comes to money: Am I going to be okay? Assuming things are okay in your house, it’s your job as a parent to convey that. And, if they’re rocky—as they may be from time to time—to show your children that, although this year’s summer vacation will be at a campground rather than a hotel, or even though you’re downsizing because of a divorce, things will still be okay. They will still be okay. There are two other overarching financial truths to keep in mind as you curate the conversations that shape their financial lives.

Truth 1: Money is relative.

How much we have isn’t as important as whether we have more or less than the people around us. Just as you compare with colleagues, neighbors, and college classmates, your kids compare with friends, classmates, and teammates. And we all compare on social media. This will be true their entire lives, which makes getting comfortable with the fact that other people have more or less an important part of growing up.

Helping them reach this level of comfort is a far better strategy than doing whatever you can to enable them to compete. “Kids who get into trouble are kids who have nothing more to desire,” says financial educator Jayne Pearl, author of Kids, Wealth, and Consequences: Ensuring a Responsible Financial Future for the Next Generation. “Everything is handed to them, they have no reason to have motivation or set goals. They can get into trouble because of that.”

Truth 2: Money is finite.

No matter how much or how little we have, we have to choose how to allocate our resources—and our kids have to do the same. The closer we can line up those choices with our values, the happier we’ll be. But our kids learn valuable lessons when we explain the whys behind our choices.

 

Excerpted from the book Women With Money by Jean Chatzky. Copyright © 2019 by Jean Chatzky. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. 

 

1 “Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” U.S. Census, September, 2017.

2 “Prediction: No College Graduation Speaker Will Mention the 29% ‘Gender College Degree Gap’ For the Class of 2018,” Carpe Diem, May, 2018.

3 ”2018 Survey of the States,” Council for Economic Education, 2018.

4 “2017 Money, Parents and Kids Survey Results,” Money Confident Kids, T. Rowe Price, 2017.

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The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete.

"Women With Money" Will Be Available Nationwide, Tuesday, March 26 

If you enjoyed the excerpt above, you might like to read the entire book. "Women With Money" will be available nationwide on Tuesday, March 26.

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The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete.

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