Money is a top stressor among Americans, according to the American Psychological Association.
Still, it’s crucial for parents to keep that burden off the shoulders of their children when it comes to teaching them about money, says personal finance writer Beth Kobliner.
“I think that although we may have money baggage … the point is it doesn’t matter what your psychology of money is, in the sense that you just want to help your kids understand how to stay out of debt … or how to save money for the future, or even invest,” Kobliner told Business Insider in a recent Facebook Live interview.
“I think that it is simpler than people think [to teach kids about money], but you don’t want to express all that fear,” she said.
According to research cited in Kobliner’s new book “Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23,” parents are the biggest influence on a child’s financial behaviour, and the lessons kids absorb by age seven will determine their habits for life. That’s one reason why, Kobliner says, it’s best not to transfer your fears or stresses about money on to your kids.
“I remember somebody once told me when my son was little to pretend to love bugs, because he was really into science and he would love to dig in the dirt. And I thought, OK that makes sense, pretend, or at least be cool with it, so they will know that it’s something you’re sharing with them and they will pick it up too,” Kobliner said.
And the same goes for those moments when you’re teaching them about the value and exchange of money, whether it’s saving money to buy a toy or paying for groceries. Remove any fear and anxiety you may harbour and give them the chance to form their own experiences around money.
That being said, if you are experiencing serious financial problems, it’s OK to be honest with your child, but make sure you’re clear on how this would affect their daily life, if at all, she says.
“I think if it’s affecting them, you want to think about what age they are,” Kobliner said. “If they’re really little, if they’re 6, 7, 8, you want to be really careful because if you say to a kid, ‘I have financial problems,’ they may think, ‘Are we going to lose our home, are we going to have to move, are we going to not be able to eat?'”