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Expert recommends discussing holiday finances with kids

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Expert recommends discussing holiday finances with kids

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Dec. 16, 2013 at 7:38 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — As you look over your holiday budget and figure out how much you have left to spend, some financial counselors say it may be a good idea to get your kids involved in the discussion.

Financial counselors say for some reason, money seems to be one of the last taboo subjects parents don't talk about.

"They're [seemingly] more comfortable talking to them about drugs and sex than they are about how much money they make or how much debt they have." said Preston Cochrane, CEO of the AAA Fair Credit Foundation.

He said the research he has seen shows kids overwhelmingly depend on their parents for financial information. Kids are required to take a financial literacy class in high school, but Cochrane said it may not be enough.

"Parents can't rely on that alone; to have that taught in the classroom," he said.

You never know when kids will ask about things like saving cash or debit cards, he added. If they do, Cochrane believes those can be valuable teaching moments. If the child initiates a conversation about money, Cochrane said parents need to be candid, be consistent and use their common sense while talking about it.

Teaching about finances
Cochrane recommends a website called financeintheclassroom.org. He said it includes teaching guides and lesson plans that parents can use, as well as teachers.

If parents feel they need to explain how finances work, Cochrane said there are certain conversation starters parents can use. For example, one good conversation can happen if a parent asks if the child knows the difference between a "need" and a "want."

"You could start out with some conversation starters like, ‘What are some ways to save money?' ‘How can interest make your savings grow?' or, "is there something special you want to save up for?'" he said.

But, what's the best way to teach a kid about things like saving or debt? Cochrane said it really depends on the child. Some kids are visual learners, while others can pick up concepts on their own. But, he said those conversation starters can get the ball rolling.

"That's where, as a parent, you can include your own family values and your own personality traits because you know your children better than anyone else," he said.

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Paul Nelson

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