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Financial Responsibility: How And When To Teach Your Kids About Money Issues

FIRST PARENT BANK, PA (KDKA) -- Among the many lessons of the pandemic is the lack of a guarantee that a paycheck will always be there. With so many young people coming out of college or on summer break going into the job market, financial experts say now is the time to drill down on critical issues of money.

It's not an easy conversation but Certified Financial Planner and the Finance Expert for Tally says start early, "Your kids are never too young to start learning about financial responsibility. So, that is whatever works for your family, but the younger the better."

From the first allowance, Rebell says the lessons should begin and accelerate in the teen years.

"I believe that's about 16 because that's the age when most kids often have their first job, they often have a driver's license which allows them not only to get to that job but also to have responsibility for something pretty expensive, maybe if they have a job, they want to chip in on that car the insurance that kind of thing that can be an opening dialogue to starting that financial grown up mentality for kids."

When high school graduation approaches Rebell says, "It becomes urgent as they get towards college, and as they graduate from college because you want them to have an exit strategy from being financially dependent on you."

While the lessons need to be adjusted for the child's personality take advantage of teaching moments.

"Going through their first paycheck for example, and going through where all the money's going, because you know what you can say to them and they've heard you grumbling about taxes, but it when they see it for themselves. It's real."

During the pandemic, the issue of boomerang children coming back to be supported by their parents has dramatically increased. Rebell says its difficult because emotions get involved but children need to understand, "Mom and Dad do have limited resources and it's important for your children to understand that. One mistake that we often make as parents is, we want them to always think of us as being there for them as being strong. We don't want them to see the weaknesses."

But it's in everyone's best interest that children understand parents are not an unlimited ATM.

"So, it is so hard but it's important for us as parents to let them see a little bit more about our finances, again, when it's appropriate. Every child is different, but they need to know a little bit more about what's going on with us, if anything, just to protect our own finances."

While Rebell says an adult child asking for help is understandable, again there must be limits. "Is it the first time, if they genuinely don't have the money and they're going to be very serious long term consequences, we're human, we love our children, we want to help them out."

But after the first time she says if you can swing it consider making the help a loan.

"It can be supportive and loving and all that, it has to be sustainable, and it has to be firm, and you have to really set boundaries at a certain point because it comes down to your life and living your life."

She says just be very honest and tell them, "You can now do everything on your own. We're here for you. We love you but this is time for you to be financially separate from us."

Again, nothing about this is easy, but Rebell says the earlier you start the financial teaching the easier it will be in the long run. Children will learn that money doesn't grow on trees, or magically pop out of an ATM at any time, and you have to be protected against the unexpected.

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