3 Tips for Talking to Kids About Money Challenges


Here are some practical tips for teaching your kids the realities of money management.

In today's economy, we're bombarded with all kinds of messages, and chances are your kids have heard some of this doom-and-gloom news as well. They're probably wondering, How's this affecting our family?

Do they see you and your wife having discussions about money? Have they noticed any changes in your family's finances? Getting these issues out in the open will bring your family together, provide a sense of relief and be a blessing in the long run.

(If you and your wife do have a heated discussion about money, do it away from the kids.)

Sue Shellenbarger, the work and family columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has written about how to help kids understand your own financial issues. Here are several of her insights with some added application ideas:

First, talk about lifestyle changes that need to be made, even with young children. Tell your kids the facts in a brief and straightforward way, giving them as many specifics as you think they can handle regarding income, expenses, and your budget. This is a great time to let them see some of the realities of money management.

Second, involve your children in the problem-solving process. Don’t feel bad if you have to tell them, “We have to find ways to spend less money.” Kids can handle that, and they might even surprise you by volunteering to make some changes to help the cause. In the process, you’ll learn more about what really matters to your kids.

Third, make it clear that while some things are changing, other important things are not—like your values, your faith, your involvement in their lives, and how much they mean to you. Young kids sometimes assume the worst and don’t always apply sound logic, so they may need to be reassured that things will be okay, you’re not leaving them, and your love for them will not change.


  • If you’re telling your kids about a layoff or some other financial hurdle, find a time when you can talk about it calmly, without conveying panic or desperation.
  • Ask for your children’s help as you set a budget for your summer vacation.
  • Assist your child in a project that will help teach him about the “real world” of money: a lemonade stand, lawn-mowing enterprise, etc.
  • Together with your child’s mom, set up a plan to allow your child to start making more of her own money decisions as she grows older.

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