Money Matters: Talking to Your Kids About Money

It is no secret that I love to cook. It is something I have loved since I was a child. Some of my fondest memories actually are of my grandmother and me cooking together. My IMG_3468favorite has to be when she taught me how to make chicken soup or “rosol” in Polish. A family favorite, it was causal enough to warm your soul on a cold day, yet special enough to serve for Christmas dinner. To this day, the smell of chicken soup transports me back into her kitchen. She would say things like, “chicken loves rosemary” and show me how to measure with the palm of my hand. Never a teaspoon of this or a tablespoon of that, it was always a cupful or a handful or a pinch.

The year after she passed away, I made her chicken soup for Christmas dinner for my family. It was spot on. We all sat around the dinner table silently eating our soup with smiles on our faces and tears on our cheeks. The soup reminded us that she loved us and she showed it through her cooking.

recipesMy grandmother was on to something. Passing on recipes keeps family traditions alive across generations. Now, however, it’s time to pass on a new kind of recipe to our children… the recipe for financial success.

As a financial advisor and mother, I am always trying to come up with creative new ways to teach my children about money. Teaching them to make smart financial choices is one of the most valuable lessons we can impart. Our children grow, they change and they mature, right before our eyes. The way we talk to them about money has to evolve too. For example, my 12-year-old nephew and my 6-year-old son love to play Pokemon Go together. Because of their age difference, though, each understands what it takes to “buy” the game in a different way.

We can tailor money messages to children in different ways to help them understand it at their own level. Let’s look at their evolution in segments: the early years (grade school), the teenage years (high school), the college years and young adults. Below are some tips and tricks to give the best advice during each. If you want a more detailed description of each, click here for an amazing white paper that fleshes out each suggestion in detail.

The Early Years

  • Set a good example
  • Talk about work and how your family earns money
  • Reinforce desired behaviors with a match
  • Make learning about money fun

The Teenage Years

  • Encourage work for pay
  • Discuss the impact of taxes
  • Remind them to “pay themselves first” and consider matching what they save
  • Enroll in personal finance courses
  • Introduce them to investing

The College Years

  • Discuss budgeting and spending
  • Reinforce smart financial behaviors to avoid identity theft
  • Discuss college debt choices
  • Consider credit cards carefully

Young Adults

  • Teach them to “pay themselves first”
  • Encourage participation in workplace benefits plans
  • Contribute at least up to the match
  • Consider covering some expenses to help them to save
  • Discuss budgeting
  • Introduce them to your financial advisor

No matter how old your children are, I still think that setting a good example for your kids when it comes to money is the best. If you need help getting your own financial future on track, let’s get started! Visit our website to learn more about how we can help or email me at

Do you have a family recipe to pass down? We’d love to hear it!

This post was written by Kristin Hillsley, a Women to Watch On-Air Contributor and Money Matters Blogger.

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