Here’s Why You Should Tell Your Kids Your Salary

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Some financial experts say parents shouldn't hold anything back when it comes to money.

If you’re like many parents, you struggle with how much — or little — you should talk about money with your children. Some financial experts say you should tell your kids everything, even how much money you make.

Ron Lieber, personal finance columnist for The New York Times and author of “The Opposite of Spoiled,” recommends being transparent about financial matters with your kids.

“… shielding children from the realities of everyday financial life makes little sense anymore, given the responsibilities their generation will face, starting with the outsize college tuitions they will encounter while still in high school,” Lieber wrote.

Lieber recommends sharing your salary information with your children, possibly before they leave home, according to U.S. News & World Report. He said discussing money removes the mystery surrounding it and makes it easier for kids to ask questions and make smart money choices.

But before the salary discussion, there are other ways to teach your children about money, U.S. News said. For instance:

  • Budget. If you give your children an allowance, make sure you also make them budget their funds. If your child has saved enough money for a smartphone, see if she also has the funds to cover the monthly phone bill.
  • Learn from mistakes. If your child really wants to use his money to buy a toy that you know he won’t play with for long, let him, U.S. News said. It could teach him a lesson about wasting money.
  • Go shopping. Have your kids seek out discounts with you. Keep your purchases to your shopping list and resist impulse buys. Children can learn a lot by watching what you do.
  • Find a new “piggy bank.” Instead of using the traditional piggy bank, U.S. News contributor Jennifer Saranow Shultz recommends using a clear plastic bucket or jar so kids can watch their money add up and grow.

My parents didn’t discuss money with me or my four siblings. As a result, I think we’ve all struggled (or continue to struggle) with money. My parents said they didn’t want us to worry about “adult matters,” but have since realized that they put us at a disadvantage.

As a parent, I know it’s difficult to discuss money matters, but it’s still important.

I have a 1-year-old and 4-year-old, so our money discussions are pretty basic right now. I’m still trying to explain to my daughter the difference between a “want” and a “need.” Sure, she wants a new toy, book or treat every time we go to the store, but we don’t need it like we need a gallon of milk or a jug of laundry detergent.

I just downloaded Lieber’s book on my Kindle.

Check out What Kids Should Know About Money at Every Age and Stage and our earlier Q & A with author Ron Lieber.

Would you feel comfortable sharing your salary with your children? How do you discuss financial matters with your kids? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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