Financial Lessons for the Children of Working Parents
Children of working parents often learn how to handle money by seeing their parents’ example of money management. This can be positive if working parents are forthcoming with their finances, but that’s not always the case. It can be time consuming, confusing, or simply uncomfortable for working parents to discuss the family finances and budget with their kids — even at a high level.
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According to research conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 22 percent of 15-year-old students in the U.S. do not have baseline proficiency in financial literacy. Working parents do a lot—including setting the stage for their children’s financial health. Here, we’ve gathered valuable financial and credit lessons for children of working parents to help you guide those tricky conversations.
Set—and Stick to—a Budget
Discussing the family budget is a great way for children of working parents to see the dollars and cents behind their parents’ hard work—and where exactly the money goes. We think starting a budget with the 50/20/30 rule is a great way to structure budgets:
- 50% of income for needs
- 20% of income for savings
- 30% of income for wants
While going over the 50/20/30 budget structure, parents and kids can also discuss the differences between budgetary wants and needs and spend time going over the importance of maintaining a healthy savings account.
Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Credit
Credit is abstract. It can be difficult for kids and adults alike to understand. The best thing children of working parents can learn about credit is that it’s debt—not income. It subtracts from a budget, instead of adding to it. After that, instilling the basics is the key to helping children develop a healthy relationship with credit: credit card terms, what APR is, how interest works, and the differences between credit and debit cards are a few key places to start.
We have several resources for you to guide conversations and gain insight:
- How Credit Cards Work: A Guide to This Important Financial Tool
- Introducing Teens to Responsible Credit Card Use
- Top 10 Reasons Students Benefit from Having Credit Cards
- Choosing Your Teen’s First Credit Card
You may also want to help your child establish a credit history before he or she is out on their own. Children of working parents can benefit tremendously from this financial leg up. In college, they can apply for a student credit card, which is a great first introduction to using credit. After discussing the credit basics, this may be an appropriate next step for helping your teen build credit and putting your financial lessons into action.
Know When to Save and When to Spend
Kids may be tempted to spend their earnings from babysitting, summer jobs and college internships rather than save it. Building a savings account—and, later, retirement accounts—is a vital component of maintaining personal financial health. This doesn’t mean spending isn’t okay. It’s important to highlight the value of saving for the future, while pointing out that spending responsibly (on durable items, experiences over “things,” etc.) is key. Striking this balance is a personal finance lesson that will resonate with your kids for years to come.
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Lessons the children of working parents learn about finances and credit will stick with them as they grow up and strike out on their own. Starting to teach them early—with age-appropriate lessons and concepts—is a great way to ensure they’re equipped to take the financial reigns in their own lives.