Awkward Topic: Parents and Money

A new study suggests that families don't talk about money, so kids don't learn.


Parents feel more prepared to give their teens advice on the birds and bees than on investing, according to a study released this week by Charles Schwab. That goes a long way toward explaining why so many kids don't know as much as they could about money management, says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, chief strategist of consumer education for the financial services firm.

She recommends discussing money around key milestones in a child's life, such as getting a first toy, car, or job, which gives parents a chance to teach kids to save 10 percent of their income. Parents can also involve their kids in daily discussions about family budget decisions, Schwab-Pomerantz says. Schwab's MoneyWise website offers an interactive game and other tools to get the conversation started.

Among the study's other findings:

• Only about one third of parents teach their teens how to balance a checkbook.

• Just under 30 percent of parents explain credit card interest and fees to their teens.

• One in five parents involves teenage children in family budgeting and spending decisions.

• Two thirds of parents think their teens aren't particularly interested in learning about money management, but research suggests that 60 percent of teens believe it's a top priority.

• Seventy percent of parents have taught their kids how to do laundry, but only 23 percent have explained how income taxes work, and just 14 percent have talked about what a 401(k) plan is.