In my interview titled “Experts Talks Kids and Money,” educator and author Karen Gross shared that money was a taboo topic in her home growing up.
Wealth psychology expert Kathleen Burns Kingsbury indicates Karen’s experience is common, “Two thirds of parents feel more comfortable talking about sex with their teens than about money and investing, making it highly likely that the next generation will struggle with financial illiteracy.”
Fidelity Investments Family & Finance Study shows a significant difference between what parents claim they have told their children about money versus what kids claim parents have shared. 70% of parents reported they, “had detailed conversations,” according to the study. More than 50% of their children say this isn’t the case.
According to a 2014 Wells Fargo survey:
- 71% of adults learned the importance of saving from their own parents. Despite this, only 36% of today’s parents report discussing the importance of saving money with their children on a frequent basis, with 64% indicating they talk about savings with their kids less than weekly or never.
- 44% of Americans claimed that personal finance was the hardest to discuss – beating out politics and even death.
T. Rowe Price’s 10th Annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey revealed that 14% of teenagers shared their parents never talk to them about money and 33% more indicated their parents talk to them once a month or less!
A Charles Schwab Parents and Money survey indicates many parents (60%) identify their teens as “quick spenders,” and most acknowledge they could do a better job of teaching and preparing their kids for the financial challenges of adulthood, including budgeting, saving, and investing.
One question many parents seem to dread more than any other when it comes to talking to their kids about money is – “How much money do you make?” – says Jayne Pearl, Financial Parenting Speaker, in a CNN article on the subject.
These reports prompted us to ask the question the following question on LinkedIn – Why is money a taboo topic for many families? Here is what Gross shared in our interview and how a cross section of Americans from around the nation responded to the above cited question.
Karen Gross (excerpt from “Expert Talks Kids and Money)
In truth, I did not learn about money in any systematic way. Money was not discussed in my family. It was one of those taboo topics. My father handled virtually all financial issues within the family (bill paying, allowances). I remember emerging as a young adult and not knowing what anything cost. I also remember that each month he gave my mother a check and we as children received cash, but nothing was said or discussed about what things cost or how to manage money. I had no idea what utilities, car insurance or a phone cost.
While I did not learn much at all about money in my home, we did have passbook savings accounts in elementary school; we deposited small amounts and saw them grow. Also, my best friend and I also had visits to the penny candy store; we have a dime to spend and had to pick and chose our pieces of candy carefully. Both these experiences may not exist today, which is unfortunate. Experience helps but does not substitute for learning within the home setting.
Dr. Mary Ann Campbell
Entertaining Speaker, Educator, and Financial Journalist
Little Rock, Arkansas
Lack of a good understand of how money works, whether managing, borrowing or investing seems to cause a lot of confusion. When things don’t go well, then shame, anger, and frustration take over. When my college students handle their money well, I ask how they learned. Many say, “My parents talked about it and showed me how money works.”
Saundra D. Davis
Financial Coach, Speaker & Trainer, Navy Veteran
San Francisco, California
People are often reluctant to talk about things that they don’t have a concrete or “right” answer to a question. If parents are not confident in their own financial values, knowledge or skills they will be less likely to discuss money with their children. I believe that most often we don’t discuss money because no one discussed it with us. I sometimes hear parents say they don’t want their children to “worry” about money, so they don’t discuss it. Others feel that money is “none of their business,” so it is compartmentalized and the children only know what they observe or experience (“here is your allowance, don’t spend it all” or “we can’t afford it”). Finally, I think that shame around money has a lot to do with how we behave as a society and as a family. This is the reason I promote the #NoShameZone in all of my 1:1 meetings, training and workshops. As financial professionals, I believe we can do harm when we “should” on people without taking the time to understand their underlying values.
President/CEO at Creative Wealth Intl., LLC
Santa Barbara, California
My parents used to have minor fights over money. I just remember that my mom got angry when my dad would spend money we didn’t have.
Dick Power, CFP
Certified Financial Planning Professional
I don’t recall it ever being discussed in any detail, but us kids had very modest allowances and were encouraged to have jobs and save. We knew our folks didn’t have a lot of money, yet we always were able to do modest things and never felt deprived. I recall well my Dad telling me we only had one car and I wasn’t going to be driving it! From then on earning, saving and budgeting got serious. That lesson and many similar have served me a lifetime. Money habits are built very young and last forever.
Senior Retail Manager, Staples
Money wasn’t a taboo topic in my family’s home when I was growing up. We were taught to save at a young age – 10% to savings first and pay all your obligations. I was taught to avoid debt if possible and learned the valuable lessons of want vs need. One key thing that still sticks with me today is the fact that I can never recall my parents saying we don’t have any money for this or that. They would say things like: “this is not in our budget”. “this is not something we choose to spend money on”. “It would be best to wait until “X” time to make that purchase”.
Controller & Technical Finance Lead L-3 Communications
No money growing up, six kids. My dad a toolmaker no high school diploma. WWII robbed him of that. My mom 9th grade education grew up in an orphanage. She went to the mills of Providence at age 16. More important than money was love and teaching to earn your own way. We all paid for our education, there was never any doubt or discussion. We barely had enough for food. I did my own three children a favor; not because I couldn’t but because I thought they would have a jump on the world. I made them each pay for their own college. Isn’t it funny how they also managed. The only advice that I gave them, study a subject that will get you a job. It is not an extended vacation.
Social Entrepreneur and Lecturer
New York, New York
Money is often discussed in my family: my kids need to understand how money is earned, saved, invested and spent intelligently and mindfully. The challenge is keeping it age-appropriate and ensuring that we don’t worry the kids!
Growing up was different for me. Money was the source of unending friction and animosity between my divorced parents. So we never talked about money, except to complain. I had to learn about it on my own to avoid repeating my parents’ patterns. This is a major reason why I founded Decision Fish: to help people avoid financial stress.
Internal Wholesaler at Hanlon Investment Management
My parents also encouraged the importance of money and saving when I was young and it definitely still benefits me today. It’s incredible that money habits can be set by such a young age.
Weigh in with your thoughts!
Take Sammy Poll #1:
If I could only teach a child or an adult one money habit or personal finance concept, that they could act on immediately, that would have an impact on their life, what would it be?
Take Sammy Poll #2:
At what age should we begin teaching kids personal finance lessons?
Share your thinking on LinkedIn:
Why is money a taboo topic for many families?
User Experiences and Feedback
Here is a sampling of user experiences – Sammy Rabbit Dream Big Financial Education resources.
In School and After School: Led by Community Leaders
Malabar Elementary School. Rosa Overstreet, Los Angeles, CA
St. John Lutheran School, Amy Vetrone, Financial Educator Berlin, WI
Walnut Elementary School, Baldwin Park, CA
Huntington Elementary School. Cedric Turner. Empower Yourself, Brockton, MA
Did You See What Marine Veteran Nick Bradfield Did? Cary, NC
Alana Golden, California Department of Financial Institutions, Sacramento, CA
Patrina Dixon and United Way Women’s Leadership Council, Hartford, CT
Money Smart 101, Philadelphia, PA
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, FL
Author Led Experiences
YMCA and East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles, CA
Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, CO
Air Force Aid Society, Arlington, VA
El Monte Promise Foundation, El Monte, CA
University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Salisbury, MD