Most parents haven’t had the money talk with their kids. And who can blame us?

We aren’t given a lesson plan so we’re not entirely sure what to say or how best to go about teaching our kids good money management skills. We’re also afraid that saying the wrong thing might send them careening into a life of debt and financial despair.

We haven’t had much formal training on the subject ourselves. We mostly learned from trial and error, and by making expensive mistakes, none of which we’d like to elaborate to our kids.

Given all of the above, our reticence is understandable, though wholly ill-suited to the task at hand—that of adequately preparing our kids to understand and make intelligent financial choices.

So here are a few pointers that might help:

  • Start early: As soon as they say, “I want” would be a good time to talk about how money works.
  • Don’t lecture: Kids switch off when we get into lecture mode, so don’t. Instead use stories to illustrate a point.
  • Avoid the Gender Gap: Research shows that parents are more likely to talk to their sons, rather than their daughters about money and investing. Don’t do that.
  • Share the responsibility: Research shows that kids are more likely to ask their mum about money matters, and more often than not, no matter how successful these women are at work – they play the “Ask your dad” card, thus signaling to their kids that money is a man’s domain.
  • Don’t flaunt bad money behavior.
  • Enroll your kids for a financial education course: Studies show that kids who take a course in financial education are less likely to be compulsive buyers, more likely to save, and less likely to max out their credit cards. As few as a 10 hours of a financial education program can significantly affect their spending and saving habits.

At Kids Finance Initiative, we run regular 4-week financial education programs for kids and teens that are fun, full of profound knowledge, and packed with essential financial skills.

Go ahead, have the money talk with your kids; then come talk to us.