Time to Have That Talk With Your Children About Money

Granddad giving grandson financial adviceWhether your children are 14 or 40, if you are at or near retirement age you must have a conversation about money. The conversation should be age-appropriate, and designed not to frighten, but to inform. Still, 13-year-olds need to know how much college you can afford for them, and 30-year-olds should have a sense of how much money you will have to support yourself when you will retire and what kind of help you may need from them.

Lots of folks say they don’t want anyone “in their business,” and so they are reluctant to talk about money. Others have the kind of spending habits they don’t want their children to emulate and feel uncomfortable having the “Do as I say, not as I do” talk. Still others are on financially shaky ground and embarrassed to say that they have an underwater mortgage, owe the IRS tens of thousands of dollars, or expect to be laid off next year.

Mom giving daughter credit card adviceBut how will you feel if your brilliant 14-year-old gets into the college of her choice, but you need to come up with a “gap” (the difference between cost of attendance and financial aid) that you can’t meet? Better to tell her now so that she can work harder to get scholarships or manage her expectations around college spending.

And if you may need to move in with your grown son and his wife, the preparation should start now.

Even if your financial status is stable, as you get older you may find it comforting to know that your children have some sense of your financial flexibility. Get past your reluctance and have the “difficult conversation” about money with your offspring.

This is the fifth in a series of six guest blogs by economist, author and commentator Julianne Malveaux.

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Photos: KidStock/Blend Images/Corbis (top); Blend Images/Getty Images

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