Parents often emphasize the importance of education to their beloved children. The rewards are obvious. Yet all too many forget to bolster that education with real-world financial information that can be passed along for generations to come.
The good news is it’s never too early to share financial wisdom, to teach your children the value of money and how to care for their financial legacy. In fact, the sooner you start, the better. When they’re on their own, you’ll have the comfort of knowing they understand and appreciate the power of financial planning and the role money plays in their lives.
An essential skill
Like reading, financial literacy is an essential skill. Unfortunately, it’s not typically taught in school. It’s up to parents to pass on their financial knowledge to ensure the next generation is capable of taking care of the wealth they’ve built.
Financial lessons can start as early as the toddler years and extend through middle age, when your adult children will need to know as much as possible about your financial life. Conversations should focus on holistic planning, saving and spending. It’s about how you build wealth and what you do with it to achieve your goals. You might be able to use real-life examples, like a new home purchase, to explain a particular financial lesson.
It seems obvious, but the best way to pass on your own financial literacy is by example. Parents need to establish themselves, early on, as moneywise adults. Just as unhealthy, bad habits get passed on to children by example, so too can risky money management techniques. The next generation may struggle to overcome poor habits they’ve been taught over the years.
Grandparents also have a role to play, as long as what they pass along is in line with your values and attitudes toward money. They often have insights, gained from years of experience, that can be shared. You may even learn a thing or two as you build your family’s financial legacy together.
While products such as trusts and wills can help ensure your wishes are carried out, they can’t give your heirs the true understanding of how to save, grow and spend money wisely. In fact, if your children are going to receive a sizable inheritance, they may get overwhelmed by sudden wealth without a solid foundation to rely on. It’s also a good idea to introduce your children, when they’re ready, to your financial advisor and other professional partners, so they’ll know where to find expert guidance when dealing with money issues.