Awkward Topic: Parents and Money

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

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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.