6 Top Money Questions for Kids to Ask Their Parents
What are some of the top money questions for kids to ask their parents? And how can you answer them without becoming flustered, confused as to how to answer, or even annoyed when you feel they're too personal? These types of questions are part of why the majority of parents are reluctant to discuss money at all with their children.
Let's discuss a few ways to not only respond to these questions but to also frame your response so that your child learns a valuable money lesson as well.
Question #1: How Much Do You Make?
This question may trigger questions of your own such as, "Is this an age-appropriate question?" and perhaps even, "Will my child use this information to ask for more money, ask that I pay for more expensive items, or brag to their friends?"
Conversation Shift: You can alter the tone of this conversation by using it as an opportunity to discuss your financial responsibilities. Mention that your income is enough to cover all of the important things while also leaving a little room for fun things like taking a family vacation or buying birthday presents. If they push for more specifics, sit down together and visit the Bureau of Labor for career-specific income information.
Question #2: Is My College Paid For?
College talk can start early in school, and once kids understand the enormous costs associated, they're probably going to be curious about whether or not their education will be paid for. The fact is, whether or not they'll be going to college and what kind of funds will be available to them — there are a variety of sources like grants, scholarships, 529 accounts, etc. — is something you really can't answer right now for sure.
Conversation Shift: This question is ripe for bringing up topics such as how you funded your own college education, your child's ability to take any college-credit classes their high school offers before they even start college, and how certain activities and school grades can help to ensure scholarships and grants that will offset the cost of college.
Question #3: Why Don't We Own a Home Like So-and-So's Family?
What a great time to bring up the fact that we all have personal choices we get to make in our lives, and many times these choices are expressed through how we spend our money.
Conversation Shift: You can explain how each person gets to choose where they want to spend their money according to where their needs and wants are, and how much they can afford. Remind your child that when they grow up, they will have the power to choose to spend more money on a larger home, or on other priorities in their lives, such as taking annual family vacations.
Question #4: Why Can't I Have (the Latest Electronic Trend), Like My Friend?
Since your child is using the word "can't" here, they're probably feeling a bit powerless in this situation. Or worse, they're feeling less-than simply because they see other kids with the latest and greatest electronics.
Conversation Shift: Is this purchase a spending priority for you, or for your child? If it's within your family's values to allow them this electronic (but not a priority for you to spend your money in this way), introduce the concept of a savings goal. Let them know that the power to own this device is in their own hands, and help them to figure out how they're going to save up for it.
Question #5: Why Don't You Just Get Money from the ATM?
Your child has probably noticed you using the ATM and concluded that it's a magic cash machine without limits. It's an easy assumption to make when they don't necessarily know the ins and outs of banking.
Conversation Shift: This is the perfect opportunity to talk your child through this "magic" cash machine, and how your own money is tied to it. Explain to them how your paycheck finds its way into your bank account, that the card you insert into the machine is how the bank links your request to your checking account, and how there are limits to the amount of money that gets taken out of an ATM. This flows nicely into the topic of bills and budgeting.
Question #6: "Are We Rich or Poor?"
The words "rich" and "poor" dredge up all kinds of money hangups for us. And kids are sensitive to the judgment, ideas, and criticisms given to both of these categories. Yet in your child's world, they've probably heard talk among their friends and are trying to size up their own situation in life.
Conversation Shift: This is an opportunity to show your child what "rich" and "poor" really mean in the real world. For starters, outline the non-money factors involved in assessing what living a "rich" life entails. Such as having good health, friends you can rely on, a family whom you love, and being able to pay all of your bills. Then give them a solid foundation for what "poor" looks like by having them fill in their allowance/chore commissions into the Global Rich List to see how it compares with people around the world.
While these top money questions for kids can make you feel uncomfortable, I hope you see now that it doesn't have to be that way. With the conversation shifts above, not only are you in control of the dialogue, but you also get to pass along a valuable money lesson. Now that's a win-win!