How to discuss money with your family

If your children have reached high school and you haven’t talked with them about your family’s finances, it may be time to start. 

Tags: Estate planning, Goals, Planning, Be prepared, How to
Published: March 02, 2021

There are a number of reasons why parents might avoid bringing up money with their high school or college-aged children. Some don’t feel it’s appropriate to tell children about the family’s money in general. Parents may also find their children are uninterested in talking about money or planning.

However, engaging your young adult children in your family finances supports three things. One, it’s an effective way to teach your children about money management and financial independence. Two, they'll be better prepared to handle your finances in an emergency. And three, long-term planning as a family can help protect and grow the legacy you've worked hard to build and preserve.


Start the conversation

Open communication is a big part of setting up your family for future success. Begin with low-pressure conversations and communicate early and often.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Start general. It’s not necessary to pull out spreadsheets and review accounts in detail. Provide some basic information about money and how to manage it. Understanding your financial decision-making can help your kids learn how to manage their money.
  • Be open. Discuss common challenges in managing money and creating wealth.
  • Lead with goals. A good place to begin is talking about goals. Consider asking these goals-focused questions:   
    • What are your needs, wants and wishes?
    • How do you think about money? 
    • Who do you talk to for financial advice?
    • How do you make decisions about saving and spending money?
    • What should the balance be between money earned and money saved?
    •  Who do you want to give to? Who or what organizations are important to you?
    • Where do you want to be financially in 5 or 10 years?


Share knowledge

As with “Each One, Teach One,” these conversations can be a great opportunity to start passing on financial knowledge, especially if your children are not financially experienced. Share your tips on things like budgeting or talk about common money mistakes.

Ideally, your children will start to determine their own goals and financial identity because of your example. Establishing a common ground provides a foundation for ongoing communication and, eventually, wealth creation.  


Involve professional guidance

A financial professional can help you manage your financial plan and can be a great resource to help start — or elevate – family conversations, especially if you or your children are hesitant to bring up money.

A financial professional can identify what information is important and what questions should be asked and answered. Most welcome the opportunity to work with their clients’ families. As they form relationships with your children, they can assist them in developing their financial decision making skills.


Spending time talking about money and planning as a family can pass on financial knowledge, prepare for emergencies and build long-term personal wealth. 


Learn about our approach to financial planning.