Kids and Money: COVID Conversations

As you and your family deal with the continued stress of enduring COVID-19, you might wonder how much and when you should have the money talk with your kids.

With children at home, their ears and hearts are listening to conversations and pressures that mom and dad are facing.  Not talking about the reality that your family may be suffering through a number of challenges (financially or otherwise) isn't helpful.  But, you don't need to overindulge in specific details either.

Although most of us would agree that we need a solid financial education in our schools, survey after survey reveals that kids want to learn from their parents and learn financial foundations (positive or negative) from how their family deals with money.

Talk With Our Kids About Money

This is a wonderful initiative that is celebrated yearly and put on by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education.  The event was to take place at Toronto City Hall last week and across the county, but has now been moved to November

But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the online tools and financial education for both kids and teachers (parents too).  There’s a plethora of info on the website which will guide you in having every day conversations with your kids about money.

Here are some of my tips from my book, The Prosperity Factor for Kids:

Under the age 5: 

Be extra careful during this time when you're referring to cash and money.  Especially calling it 'dirty'.  There’s more and more talk about stores not accepting cash during the crisis, but currency itself is not filthy.  Money, like any surface, needs to be handled carefully and our hands washed afterwards.  But money itself is a wonderful thing!

If you have any Canadian or foreign currency around your home, bring it out and use it as a history, math and geography lesson with little ones.

5 – 10 years old:

This is a great time to talk about goals with your kids and what they want to do when we get back to normal.  Keep goals short term like a swim pass this summer or a ski pass in the early winter.  The idea is that we need to set short-term goals for things that are coming up in the near future.  Help your children figure out what cash coming into thier life – an allowance, gifts from grandparents, etc. and how will they divvy these dollars into fun spending, short-term savings and gifting. What’s the right mix for your family?

11 – 16 years old:

With this age group, you may consider having more honest conversations about the crisis and the challenges many Canadians are facing.  It's s great opportunity to talk with your young ones about income, expenses and emergency savings.  Encourage and help them set short and long-term goals.  Do they have a school trip to Europe planned in a few years?  But they also have a more immediate goal of getting a new pair of roller blades this summer?

Help them create a goal thermometer and determine how much mom and dad will help out with their savings and how much they need to contribute.  Assist them with strategies for divvying up their money between fun spending, short and long term savings.  Get creative with them on ways they can bring in more money (after the crisis has passed). For example, can they help mom and dad with a garage sale, sell stuff on Facebook Market place, teach Social Media 101 at a retirement residence or more?

Age 16+

The most important conversations with your teens should be surrounding credit.  Set up a “mock credit system” with mom and dad where you extend a small amount of credit, such as $250, and parameters for paying it back.

Get online and see how many decades it takes if you only make a minimum payment on your credit card. Talk about credit and how to improve your standing and not ruin it with their first credit card.

This is also an ideal time to educate your teens about financial professionals they’ll need in their life like accountants, lawyers, realtors and Certified Financial Planners. If you don’t know all the answers, google key terms together. The Talk With Our Kids About Money site has lots of lesson plans and conversation starters.

Remember, you don't have to have all the answers and you don’t have to share your own personal financial details when talking with your kids about money.

To catch my Global National interview on the subject, click here.