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4/28: Talking to Kids About Money

Family Finances

4/28: Talking to Kids About Money

With the recession dominating daily headlines, few people are immune to the stress that accompanies today’s tough economic times.  But, for parents who are having a difficult time making ends meet, does talking to their children about money problems add to or reduce the stress?  For nearly six in ten Americans, talking to kids about money increases family anxiety while 28% say it alleviates it.



More younger Americans than older Americans believe discussing financial matters with their children is an added stress.  71% of residents under age 45 and 51% of those 45 and older share this view.

Table: Talking to Children About Money Adds or Reduces Family Stress?

At What Age?

So, then, what is the appropriate age at which to begin speaking with children about money?  There is little consensus among Americans or even those who are parents.  A majority believes somewhere between the age of six and twelve is age appropriate.  27% of residents nationwide say children between six and nine years old are mature enough to discuss money, and the same proportion believes anywhere between ten and twelve years old is the best time to talk finances.  23% report parents should have the talk even earlier — at five years of age or younger.  Parents agree.

Men and women, however, don’t see eye-to-eye on this issue.  A majority of women believe children should take part in financial discussions by age nine.  In contrast, the plurality of men — 49% — think the best time to begin the discussion about finances is when a child is at least 10 or even older.

Table: Good Age to Talk to Children About Money?

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Stories:

Cluing Kids In About Cash: An Interview

Kids and Money: Lessons from the Past and Dealing with the Present

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  1. us bank home mortgage |

    August 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    The question is if nothing had been said would it have been better in the long run? and like you say Tom, discussing it with older generations surely must be the better way to go about it. – See more at:

  2. Private School Grants

    February 18, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    With an economy like this – I’ve read about many parents telling their kids they can’t afford to contribute towards college tuition and as a result, these students are switching to state universities or community colleges. We start are kids investments in savings for college when they’re so young – why would we wait till six to talk to them about it. With the advent of the internet – kids are learning much faster than ever before. Its better to start before six.

  3. Peter, Finance Talks Ltd

    October 29, 2009 at 5:57 AM

    I agree with you here Tom, children are definitely tuned into things like this, but is it really necessary to sit a child of 6-12 years old down to talk to them about their financial situation – will they even understand? If they do won’t you be passing on the stress to them as well?

    From personal experience when my parents split up my Mother sat my Sister down who was 13 at the time to explain that she may not be able to keep up repayments on the house and if push comes to shove it could be repossessed. Now this worried my Sister and she didn’t take it at all well

    The question is if nothing had been said would it have been better in the long run? and like you say Tom, discussing it with older generations surely must be the better way to go about it.

    It really is a hard case to judge.

  4. Tom Gurney - Vault Oil Paintings

    June 1, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    I think children often pick up on alot more than their parents realise, and often will be aware that there is atleast a problem already. Explaining the situation may help them to comprehend the situation in the home and realise that it is quite normal, and typically improves after a short period.

    It is surely better to try to keep all signs of economic problems away from a child, but this may not be possible. Perhaps seeking other avenues of discussion is a better idea to help reduce stress and deal with the problems, such as discussing with old generations or close friends. Reduced stress will mean there is less need to expose children to these problems.

  5. Laurie Petersen

    May 11, 2009 at 4:08 PM

    I’ve been involving my ‘tween-age daughter in household budget decisions since around age 10. We’ve had some very straightforward discussions about wants and needs and realities since the economy started to decline. I recommend the Family & Finance section of Minyanville for some guidelines on how to frame the conversation.

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